In Savannah, as in every major metropolitan area across Georgia and the south, morning and afternoon rush hour traffic stacks up bumper-to-bumper on the Interstates and on crowded streets in the city’s major industrial and business districts. Rush hour traffic often crawls along I-95, I-16 and the Harry Truman Parkway at under 5 mph. Hurried, stressed and distracted, frazzled commuters frequently tangle in terrible, tragic accidents. Even at low speeds, accidents can be devastating. In heavy traffic, and especially in poor driving conditions, drivers are especially vulnerable to…
• Chain reaction accidents. Especially in the so-called “fast lanes,” the two lanes furthest left on the freeways, when one driver must stop suddenly, a driver “tailgating” is likely to cause a rear-end collision. In congested freeway traffic, though, rear-end collisions seldom happen just one at a time. Other drivers who failed to maintain proper “space cushions” and did not apply their brakes in time, crash into the cars stopped in front of them. It is not unusual for “chain reaction” accidents to involve as many as 10 cars. Moreover, because rear-end collisions are the leading cause of neck and back injuries, chain reaction accidents often have up to fifty seriously injured victims. The lesson: control your speed and prepared for sudden stops.
• Improper merges and lane changes. Drivers often accelerate suddenly as they attempt to change lanes in heavy traffic, and they cause serious side-impact accidents when they misjudge time and space between cars or when other drivers fail to see them moving into their lanes. Attempting to maneuver across several crowded lanes, drivers also accelerate suddenly as they move from metered on-ramps into the flow of traffic. Because quickly accelerating vehicles build tremendous momentum, the “g-forces” in these collisions can roll over sub-compact cars or top-heavy SUVs. Therefore, check the flow of traffic and other drivers’ speeds, clearly signal your intentions and merge with extreme caution. Better still, pick a lane and stay in it.
• Driving in “big rigs’” blind spots. Truck drivers try to stay out of the far right lane, because they want to guard against colliding with cars entering or exiting the freeways. Leaving that lane open, however, truckers inadvertently create opportunities for small cars to slip into their blind spots. If the big rig must move into the right lane, a car in his blind spot inevitably gets crushed. As the signs on semi trailers warn, if you cannot see the driver in his mirrors, he cannot see you.
• Faulty calculations of time and distance. On downtown streets, harried rush hour drivers often press their luck against yellow traffic lights, speeding-up to beat the red. “T-bone” accidents are up to five times more likely to occur in congested traffic than during off-peak hours. As you get the green light, take a moment to look both ways and then enter the intersection with caution.
What to Do if You Have a Serious Accident in Heavy Traffic.
First and by far most importantly, attend to the injured and contact emergency officials—both police and medical. If vehicles have rolled or flipped and passengers are trapped inside, do not attempt to move either the cars or the people because you may aggravate their injuries. Especially if people have suffered head trauma or complain of neck and back pain, do your best to keep them calm and immobilized until help arrives. If, however, you can move vehicles and victims either to the right shoulder or into the center divide, then get them out of the flow of traffic.
While you wait for emergency services, collect essential information from the other drivers. Make sure you copy their full names, addresses and contact information from their driver’s licenses, and collect as much insurance information as you can. If your smartphone or tablet has a scanner, use it. While you gather information, take lots of pictures with your cell phone camera and use the notepad to record other drivers’ statements.
As you speak with the other drivers, do not discuss details of the accident; be especially careful not to suggest who may be responsible for the accident. In this situation, anything you say can and will be used against you. Exercise your right to remain silent. If your auto insurance carrier has an accident hotline, call it. Representatives for the best auto insurance companies are specially trained to guide you step-by-step through managing a serious accident.
When police officers question you about the accident, report only the facts. Do not guess, speculate, surmise or suggest. Offer no opinions. If you cannot really explain what happened, do not attempt to reconstruct from the damage you see in front of you. When police officers say you may leave the scene, immediately seek medical treatment. Even if you feel fine, you should visit the ER or an urgent care facility, telling nurses and physicians you have suffered an auto accident and you need a complete examination. Many “soft tissue” injuries to your neck and back develop slowly, and you may feel nothing for up to 48 hours after the accident.
Consult the accident attorneys at Hertz Law.
Call 404-577-8111 or go to www.hertz-law.com. Eric Hertz and his colleagues will evaluate your case, protect your rights, and represent you in negotiations with the other drivers and their insurance companies. Should your case go to court, Eric Hertz, the man who literally wrote the book on punitive damages in Georgia, will put his extensive trial experience to work for you.