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How to Stay Safe While Stopping on the Highway for Emergencies


As Portland car accident attorneys, we know that it happens to everyone at one point or another: you have to pull over on the highway because of an emergency. Your child may have undone her safety restraints, or your tires may be wobbling. You may even have become suddenly tired. Whatever the situation, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommends you take a few steps to ensure safety while executing an emergency stop on the highway.

These tidbits of advice may keep you safe:

  • Turn on your blinkers and emergency lights
    When you need to switch lanes or pull over, it is just second nature to flip on your turn signal. Your turn signal allows drivers around you to react to your situation appropriately. In an emergency, however, there might be more going on than just a need to pull over. If your vehicle is having mechanical problems, flip on your hazard lights to urge more caution from drivers around you. Once you are pulled over, keep your hazard lights on if you intend to exit the vehicle or call for help.
  • Exit your vehicle from the passenger side
    There are many horror stories seen on the news about people on the side of highways getting hit by an oncoming car or truck. People can get hit even when they pull over 1-3 feet away from the traffic lane (as is suggested for an emergency stop). Drivers typically pull over onto the right shoulder of the road, which leaves the passenger side away from oncoming traffic – so if you must exit your vehicle, do so on the side facing away from the highway.
  • Employ your emergency kit alert devices
    Every car should have an emergency kit. If you are in need of assistance or if you just want to make sure people know that you will be working on your car, then you should use some emergency devices to alert people to your presence. During the daytime, an orange reflective safety cone and sign posted behind and near the driver’s side of your car will alert people to problems and signal for them to switch lanes and give you a wide berth. At night a flare is also useful to signal for emergency and help.
  • Pull back onto the highway safely
    Once your emergency has passed, you will need to pull back onto the highway. Clean up your emergency signs, make sure everyone is properly buckled in and begin the foray of reentering the highway slip stream. Turn on your turn signal before you begin – that will give everyone time to react to you. If there is enough room begin moving into the lane and increase your speed before merging onto the highway. Keep a look out for people who are distracted so you can properly react.

These tips for emergency highway stops in Oregon are great ways to decrease the chances of an accident or car crash.