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Highway Shoulder Accidents: What You Should Know?

Published: Mar 26, 2024 in Auto Accident, Personal Injury
An Edwardsville Car Crash Lawyer at The Cates Law Firm Can Help

Though often overlooked, highway shoulder accidents can have serious consequences.  The shoulder of a highway is meant to provide a safe area for vehicles to pull over in emergencies or for maintenance purposes.  However, drivers misusing or neglecting the shoulder can cause a severe and sometimes deadly car accident.  Understanding the risks associated with highway shoulder accidents is important when promoting safer driving habits and reducing the likelihood of such accidents.

One of the primary dangers of highway shoulder accidents is the risk of collisions with stationary vehicles. When a vehicle is stopped on the shoulder, either due to an emergency or for maintenance, it is vulnerable to being struck by passing vehicles. These collisions can result in serious injuries or fatalities, particularly if the vehicle occupants are outside the vehicle at the time of the impact.

Dangers of Highway Shoulders

Other dangers on the shoulder of the highway include:

  • Just being close to the highway, even if you think you used the shoulder appropriately, puts you and your passengers in danger of being hit by a passing vehicle.
  • Drivers not paying attention may hit you at full speed, unaware you were on the shoulder.
  • Debris and tire pieces usually lie on the shoulder of the highway, which can cause you to swerve or lose control if they collide.
  • Re-entering the highway through the shoulder is a dangerous maneuver that requires full awareness and attention.
  • Pedestrians and cyclists are susceptible to an accident, whether they use the shoulder or the driver does.

Avoiding Highway Shoulder Accidents

To avoid highway shoulder accidents, drivers should:

  • Stay alert: Always pay attention to the road and your surroundings. Look out for vehicles stopped on the shoulder, pedestrians, and cyclists.
  • Give space: When passing a vehicle on the shoulder, move over to the adjacent lane, if possible, to give the stopped vehicle and its occupants more space. If you cannot move over, reduce your speed and proceed cautiously.
  • Use turn signals: When merging into traffic from the shoulder, use your turn signals to indicate your intentions to other drivers. This can help prevent collisions and ensure a smoother merge.
  • Avoid distractions: Avoid using electronic devices, eating, or other distracting driving activities. Focusing on the road can help you react quickly to potential hazards.
  • Obey speed limit: Follow posted speed limits and adjust your speed based on road and weather conditions. Driving at a safe speed can give you more time to react to unexpected situations.
  • Be prepared: In an emergency, ensure your vehicle is equipped with essential safety equipment, such as a spare tire, jack, and emergency flares. Knowing how to change a tire or perform other basic maintenance tasks safely can also be helpful.
  • Stay in your vehicle: If your vehicle breaks down on the shoulder, stay inside until help arrives. Exiting your vehicle and standing on the shoulder can put you at risk of being struck by passing vehicles.

By following these safety tips, drivers can reduce the risk of highway shoulder accidents and help keep themselves and others safe. Additionally, being aware of the dangers associated with highway shoulder driving can help promote a culture of safety among all road users.

An Edwardsville Car Crash Lawyer at The Cates Law Firm Can Help

Driving on the shoulder is illegal in many states and poses great dangers. For legal help, contact an Edwardsville car crash lawyer at The Cates Law Firm today.  Call us at 618-277-3644 or fill out our online form for a free consultation.  Located in Swansea, Illinois, we serve clients in St. Louis, Belleville, East St. Louis, Edwardsville, Granite City, Waterloo, Chester, Carbondale, St. Clair County, Madison County, Monroe County, Randolph County, and other regions throughout Southern Illinois.