About once a week, when you’re stuck in rush hour traffic, you see at least one person bypass the congestion by driving on the shoulder. This infuriates you because not only is it illegal, but that kind of reckless driving could make traffic worse if it causes an accident. Then again, there are days that you wish you could do the exact same thing, but you’re worried about the dangers.
The AAA Foundation estimates that 12% of all interstate highway deaths result from shoulder accidents. In other words, 600 people a year are needlessly killed and thousands more are injured due to the misuse of highway shoulders. Some of these victims obeyed emergency laws and used the shoulder for safety. Instead of continuing to drive during an emergency situation, they pulled off the highway, thinking they’d be safer on the shoulder. Unfortunately, poor decisions by other drivers turned their lawful actions into horrific accidents.
Shoulder Passing Stupidity
If shoulders are supposed to be a safe place to pull off for emergencies, as stated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, why are so many people dying? The answer to this question is actually sadder than you may think. Over 90% of these deaths occur because other motorists, for whatever reason, use the shoulder as their own personal passing lanes.
When stuck in traffic, or behind a slow-moving vehicle, some motorists decide that their time is more precious than the drivers around them. Instead of obeying traffic laws, they use the empty shoulder as an easy way to pass slow traffic. However, when traveling at speeds close to 60 mph, the shoulder can quickly become hazardous.
If you’ve ever wondered whether or not it would be a good idea to drive on the shoulder, remember these potential shoulder risks:
- Emergency pullovers blocking the lane. Due to the speed at which you’re traveling, it can be difficult to see stopped cars, let alone the drivers who are bent over changing tires, calling a tow truck, or comforting their children. If you can’t see them, you can’t avoid causing a disastrous collision.
- Pedestrian accidents. Since the shoulder is used for emergency situations, there is the potential that pedestrians are standing near their cars to wait for assistance.
- Driver confusion. Drivers don’t expect to see cars driving on the shoulder; this confusion can lead some drivers to swerve toward you or to completely ignore your presence when you’re attempting to reenter traffic.
- Road rage. Never underestimate the danger of anger and frustration. By using the shoulder to pass traffic, you’re basically telling the drivers you pass that you’re more important than them. This is a bad idea when they’re already stressed and tense from sitting in a back-up. Some drivers may even take that rage and focus it on you by moving in front of you, blocking you, or running you off the road altogether.
- Re-entering collisions. If you successfully manage to pass traffic without road rage incidents or encountering shoulder hazards, you still must be able to re-enter traffic. If you’re not careful, the few seconds it will take to match highway speed could be your last.
Staying Safe Before and After a Shoulder Collision
You’re a smart person who knows that you should always obey traffic laws. However, other motorists aren’t so inclined to put caution and security above their egos. Unfortunately, their ignorance can put you and your family in jeopardy.
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a shoulder accident, contact us today. We can help ensure that you get the compensation your injuries deserve. Don’t let your insurance company make you pay for someone else’s mistake. Call now!
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