Houston Public Media recently spoke on Feb. 16, 2018 with Dinah Massie, the interim director of Harris County’s traffic management facility Transtar about proper disabled vehicle etiquette. Massie said she’s seen several crashes that start with a disabled vehicle on the side of the road.
“We’ve seen people being killed outside their vehicles when the vehicle is pushed into them,” says Massie. “I can think of three instances in the last couple of years.”
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She said when a stranded driver is on the roadway outside their vehicle, they have “absolutely nothing” protecting them with no guarantee other drivers are paying attention. If a passing car strikes you, she said the road’s guard rails may not keep you from getting knocked over the side.
“If you’ve got cars moving past you at varying speeds and drivers with varying attention levels you’re much safer in that hard shell around you,” explains Massie.
Massie’s official stance? If you’re broken down on the shoulder or in the road’s main lanes, stay put.
“The best thing is to make sure you’re communicating as well as you possibly can with the drivers around you,” Massie said. “That’s why you want the flashers on, that’s why you want to be buckled up. That’s why you want to call for help.”
More than 30,000 stalled or disabled vehicles on Harris County highways required assistance in 2017, Massie said. The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences stated close to 75% of fatalities involving disable vehicles occur when the driver is standing outside.
The Texas Department of Public Safety established the DPS Stranded Motorist Hotline in 1989 to help drivers whose vehicles are disabled on state and federal roads in Texas. That number, 800-525-5555, is printed on the back of all Texas state-issued identification and intended for drivers needing non-emergency assistance. Depending on where the motorist is located the call is relayed to local police, sheriff’s department, courtesy patrol or nearest DPS communications facility.
Motorists are encouraged to use the number when they are stranded with car problems, beset by hazardous road conditions, encounter debris in the roadway, see suspicious activity at a rest area or see obviously intoxicated or dangerous drivers.
Lemon law attorneys help their clients by dealing directly with the manufacturer on the clients’ behalf, working to promptly resolve the issue and get their clients back on the road. Thanks to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, attorneys can seek their fees directly from the manufacturer, meaning a client can obtain legal counsel without having to pay attorneys’ fees directly out of pocket.