(PIKESVILLE, Md.) – With more than two million Marylanders expected to travel by automobile for the year-end holiday period, the issue of disabled vehicles on the road becomes more prevalent.
With at least four pedestrians killed in recent months in crashes that involved disabled vehicles, Maryland State Police is urging motorists and pedestrians to use extra caution when traveling on busy roads. Just consider the following incidents:
- On Dec. 11, Chaz Joseph Wilson, 28, of Cambridge, Maryland, died after he was struck while getting out of his disabled vehicle to greet a tow truck operator on Rt. 392 in Linkwood Drive in East New Market.
- On Dec. 8, Deputy Chief State Fire Marshal Sander B. Cohen, 33, and Federal Bureau of Investigation Supervisory Special Agent Carlos Wolff, 36, died after being struck by a car on I-270 in Montgomery County. Cohen had pulled over to assist Wolff, who had been in a single-vehicle crash moments before Cohen arrived.
- On Nov. 6, Josue Exsau Vasquez, of Washington, D.C., was injured when a tractor-trailer drove onto the right shoulder and struck the rear driver side portion of the victim’s vehicle. The vehicle struck Vasquez as he was standing on the right shoulder near his disabled vehicle.
- On Oct. 12, Nancy Carter, 53, of New Freedom, Pa., was fatally struck in a hit-and-run on I-83 South in the area of Western Run Road in Cockeysville. According to investigators, the red Suzuki passenger vehicle she was traveling in became disabled and parked along the right shoulder due to possible mechanical issues. At that time, the victim, exited her vehicle and stood by the driver side door. Moments later, she was struck by what is believed to be a tractor-trailer and dragged for approximately 500 feet.
According to the Maryland Highway Safety Office, at least 97 pedestrians have been fatally struck on roads throughout Maryland so far in 2017. These figures include all pedestrian-related deaths and not just those who were struck when dealing with a disabled vehicle.
Here are some safety tips for pedestrians should your vehicle break down on a highway or another busy road. These are just suggestions as every situation is unique:
- Pull over and out of traffic if possible. Call for assistance as soon as it is safe to do so. You want to limit your time on the side of the road as much as possible because of the danger you are being exposed to.
- Illuminate your vehicle with as much light as possible, even in the daytime. Emergency flashers, flares, reflective triangles, and battery operated strobe lights all contribute to increasing the chances of other motorists seeing your vehicle and recognizing that it is disabled.
- Remember, even if all of your emergency lights are activated, it is not guaranteed that another driver will see you in time to stop. Even with all the lights on police cars, fire engines, ambulances and tow trucks, drivers far too often drive into emergency scenes and strike first responders.
- Carry an emergency kit in your car that includes, among other things, extra lights mentioned above and a reflective vest you can put on if you have to get out of your vehicle. Remember, you want to do all you can to ensure other drivers see you and your vehicle.
- When you are in your vehicle, always keep your seat belt on, even if you are just sitting on the side of the road.
- Don’t attempt to fix the vehicle in the road by yourself. Even if you believe it will be an easy fix, it is safer to call a professional.
- Only exit the vehicle if you absolutely have to and if it is safe to do so. If you are able to, raise the hood of the vehicle to alert passing authorities that you need assistance
- Be patient. Highways and other busy roads are regularly patrolled by police and tow truck operators. Someone will eventually stop to help if you are unable to call yourself. Deciding to walk for assistance should involve careful consideration.
- Be aware of your surroundings. The correct course of action in any given situation may be different based on the time of day, road conditions, weather and/or volume of traffic.