ORLANDO, Fla. – Picture this.
You’re driving along your favorite Florida highway when you hear a clunking noise coming from your car’s engine, so you pull over onto the shoulder.
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Your next move might save your life, says News 6 traffic safety expert Trooper Steve Montiero.
“Disabled vehicles happen all the time, but we just need to know what to do especially on these highways,” Trooper Steve said.
Fatal crashes involving people stuck on the side of the road are a tragically common in Central Florida. Over the weekend, a 23-year-old South Florida woman was hit and killed on Interstate 4 in Orange County when she tried walking across the eastbound lanes.
Check your surroundings and activate your flashers
If you must pull over, the first step is to activate your hazard lights, also known as flashers. Next, check your mirrors and get out of the travel lanes as quickly and safely as you can.
“I’m always going to suggest you go to the right shoulder, but if you can’t, get to that left-hand side. Just clear those travel lanes,” he said.
If your open car door would protrude into the travel lanes, you’re not over far enough, he said.
“Live by the door.”
From here, the best thing to do is to stay inside of your car. As a pedestrian on the side of a highway, you are vulnerable to oncoming cars and it is important to take extra precautions.
If you must exit your car, Trooper Steve suggests getting out through your passenger side if your driver’s side is close to oncoming traffic.
Call for assistance
“If you can, stay in that car, stay in the car.”
The Florida Highway Patrol is here to help drivers in this situation. Trooper Steve recommends calling *FHP (347) and a road ranger or trooper will assist by adding extra visibility to your disabled vehicle.
Never walk into the travel lanes
“Our depth perception at night is so messed up,” Trooper Steve said.
When cars are whizzing past at 70+ miles per hour, crossing a major road or highway is extremely dangerous. Even if you are near the travel lanes, be extra cautious because other drivers may not be paying attention.
Last summer, an FHP trooper was assisting a disabled motorist when a Tesla crashed into their patrol car on the side of I-4.
“Wait with your car, it’s just too dangerous,” Trooper Steve said.
Happening now: Orange County. Trooper stopped to help a disabled motorist on I-4. When Tesla driving on “auto” mode struck the patrol car. Trooper was outside of car and extremely lucky to have not been struck. #moveover. WB lanes of I-4 remain block as scene is being cleared. pic.twitter.com/w9N7cE4bAR— FHP Orlando (@FHPOrlando) August 28, 2021