Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) – You just slid off the icy road and into a guardrail. Should you get out and check the damage, or stay inside and wait for help?
Sergeant Jay Nelson of the Montana Highway Patrol spoke to KGVO News Thursday morning as the latest winter storm brought snow and icy roads to western Montana.
It was another harsh winter morning on the Western Montana Highways
Nelson said there were a high number of accidents during Thursday morning’s commute in the Missoula area.
“Winter is definitely upon us,” Sgt. Nelson began. “Our Montana Highway Patrol men and women have been out all night and continuously busy throughout District One, which includes Missoula, to the Idaho border at Lookout Pass. We also get some accidents on Highway 200 into this area, which is also from Missoula. So winter is upon us. We’re heading for a pretty heavy storm with a mix of snow and rain definitely causing some slippery roads out there.”
If you’re involved in an accident, here’s what to do and what NOT to do
For those involved in an accident, Sgt. Nelson says it’s perfectly normal to feel nervous or angry, but staying in your vehicle is the wisest way to stay safe until help arrives.
“The most important thing is to stay safe and the most important thing is to look around before you get out of the vehicle,” he said. “We train our troopers that if one person has crashed someone else could easily crash back in there, so look around before you get out of your vehicle. If you don’t feel safe getting out, call 9-1-1 and let authorities know you’re on the road blocking traffic.”
Sergeant Nelson said the next step is very important.
“If you’re able to pull off the lane, if there are no injuries or you don’t create another hazard, and you can move the vehicle off the road, we always encourage that, too,” Nelson said. “Make sure you turn on your hazards (hazard lights) and anything else you can do to warn motorists that you’ve been in an accident and hopefully get them to slow down so we don’t have one secondary crash. That is one of our major concerns.”
The safest place is INSIDE your vehicle
Sergeant Nelson said that if your accident occurred on the freeway or any major state highway, staying in your vehicle is of the utmost importance.
“You should definitely stay in your vehicles, especially if you’re traveling on the freeway or some of our main back roads,” he said. “Even in the city, you’ll do much better if you’re in a vehicle and get hit than if you’re outside of a vehicle. If you can just stay in your vehicle, stay warm and be prepared for emergency services to get there, that’s the best thing you can do.”
Sergeant Nelson said no fatalities were reported despite the numerous slides and accidents in western Montana Thursday.
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