To the editor:
When stopping to help someone, stop more than 50 feet behind the breakdown. Crowd the traffic lane to shield pedestrians with your vehicle. Crank your wheels toward the ditch - your struck vehicle should launch itself into the ditch while deflecting the other vehicle away from pedestrians assisting the casualty.
Last night I saw two pickups on the shoulder of the highway. Their people were changing a tire on a flatbed trailer, one standing between trailer and truck.
I was reminded of a dash-cam of a woman standing behind her car. A voice calls from off camera, “Come into the ditch, dear. I don’t want you hurt if my car is struck by traffic.”
She moves to the ditch and immediately the patrol car is struck and slams into her car. A truck is visible careening down the the highway on two wheels. Her car travels forward, arcing right. The windows are smashed, the wipers wipe air, the horn screams, and the hood is folded back over the cabin. Runs toward her car then stops. She stands, mouth open, hands to face, alternately looking at her car and the squad car, imagining herself between them.
I like seeing people helping highway casualties, but I always cringe to see how close to the casualty rescuers park.
“Best Practices” seem to change. I notice that police sometimes crank their wheels right, sometimes left; sometimes they park their car farther away from the traffic lane and sometimes they park crowding the traffic lane. I don’t know their reasoning but we should imitate them. The life we save may be our own.