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Tuesday August 09, 2022 Salt Lake City, UT

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Highway Safety

UHP and UDOT Urge Motorists to Drive off Freeway after a Minor Crash

Sunday August 13, 2017

The Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) and Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) are urging drivers to drive off the freeway after minor fender benders. These types of crashes can cause major delays on the freeway and create safety issues.

After a typical crash on a six-lane freeway where the involved vehicles pull onto the shoulder, traffic will still back up as if two lanes of the freeway were blocked, according to UDOT traffic operations engineers. If the vehicles don’t pull onto the shoulder and instead block a full lane of traffic, that causes delays equal to blocking three lanes.

“Even the most minor crashes can cause major delays,” UDOT Public Information Officer John Gleason said. “Ideally if you can drive your car, please pull off at the next exit.”

Of the 13,706 crashes investigated by the UHP this year, just 38 percent have moved off the freeway, according to UHP Col. Michael Rapich.

The UHP is doing everything it can to clear crashes and get them off the roadway so traffic can flow smoothly, but they need the public’s help.

“Do everyone a favor, and move your car,” Rapich said. “Call 9-1-1, and listen to what the dispatcher tells you. They’ll help keep you safe and make sure to send help your way.”

By calling 9-1-1, that starts the office reporting process, so drivers need not worry about leaving the scene of an accident.

Keeping your car on the freeway after a crash can be dangerous as well. It’s even more dangerous if drivers exit their vehicles and stand on the interstate. Rapich and Gleason said if a vehicle is disabled and unable to move to the next exit, drivers and passengers should stay in the vehicle with their seatbelts fastened.

“With winter approaching, the chance for a secondary crash is extremely high,” Gleason said. “You’re basically a sitting duck if you get out of your vehicle. Stay safe, buckled up in your car, and call 9-1-1 for help.”

UDOT and UHP both have tools to remove disabled vehicles from the road. UDOT’s Incident Management Team has five trucks equipped with stingers to pull disabled vehicles off the interstate, and UHP troopers utilize push bumpers to remove disabled vehicles off the roadway.

Video produced by Chris Averett.

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