Driving Past Accident Sites Safely
Car accidents are a common occurrence on Malaysian roads and highways.
Whether it involves a single vehicle or even a dozen, any accident on the road will immediately cause a massive slowdown in traffic, leading to great congestion for many kilometers up the road often lasting hours at a time. This congestion is typically thanks to lanes being blocked by damaged vehicles, but frustratingly it is also because onlookers from both sides of the road slow down to get a good look at what’s going on.
This behaviour, which is known as ‘rubbernecking’, not only causes congestion because of drivers who slow their vehicles down more than they need to, it also poses great danger both to those doing it and to those around them. Drivers engaged in this behaviour are typically distracted by the accident, taking their eyes off the road in front of them or even worse if they decide to take their phone out to snap a few pictures or videos for their social media feeds.
Your objective as a responsible driver is to get past the accident site as swiftly as possible, in a manner that keeps you and those around you as safe as possible. Here are few ways to do that:
First and foremost, you need to do your best not to contribute to the congestion that’s taking place. Not only does congestion affect everyone else using the road behind you, it also makes it much more difficult for tow trucks and emergency services to reach the accident scene! Imagine if there were casualties at the accident site who could not be saved because ambulances could not arrive on time. It is the collective responsibility of all road users to keep their vehicles moving in order not to cause congestion for those behind them.
Avoid the emergency lane
When congestion is bad and drivers are stuck in traffic, the temptation to use the emergency lane may increase for some of them. This is made even worse when they see other drivers start to abuse emergency lanes. As they say, it only takes one driver to set an example and start a trend involving many other drivers following them on emergency lanes.
As mentioned earlier, emergency vehicles need to be able to reach the accident site as soon as possible in order to treat casualties and clear the scene. If they are unable to do that in a timely manner, not only does congestion get even worse, but human lives could be lost! That is not something you’d want on your conscience. So no matter what the case may be, avoid the emergency lane at all times!
Just because everyone else is abusing it, doesn’t mean it's right!
Beware of pedestrians and other vehicles
When you arrive close to the actual accident site, stay alert and bear in mind that there may be pedestrians moving around even if it's in the middle of the highway. First responders, highway workers, or even good samaritans may be moving around on foot in and around the accident site, which is why it is of the utmost importance that you keep your eyes on the road in front of you instead of focusing your attention on the accident site.
Keeping your eyes on the road also ensures that you do not hit the car in front of you. The driver in front of you may suddenly stop or slow down without warning to avoid pedestrians, especially if they themselves are guilty of ‘rubbernecking’ or trying to look at what’s going on at the accident site instead of keeping their eyes on the road.
Keep a safe distance
With everything going on around the accident site that you’re driving past, it is always wise to put extra distance between yourself and everybody else. This means keeping a safe distance from the car in front of you as well as allowing for as much space between your car and the accident site as possible.
Take a detour
While this is not always possible, if the opportunity presents itself for you to take a detour and avoid an accident site completely, you should do so. Emergency personnel on the ground may attempt to redirect traffic, or you may be taking suggestions from the navigation app on your phone. In any case, it is probably wiser to take a longer route to your destination rather than braving your way past a heavily congested accident site.
Above all, remember that traffic is all about flow. Your main priority should be to get past the accident as quickly and as safely as possible. While you can not control congestion that comes as a result of any accidents on the road, you can ensure that you do not contribute to it. If all drivers on the road did the same, the congestion would clear up very quickly without anyone getting hurt.