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Ask a Trooper: Keep Seat Belts On After an Accident

The following article was written by Michigan State Trooper Mike Sura, who answers questions about Michigan law in a weekly column.

Trooper Michael Sura, of the Michigan State Police – Brighton Post. Credit: Michigan State Police
Trooper Michael Sura, of the Michigan State Police – Brighton Post. Credit: Michigan State Police

The Michigan State Police in southeast Michigan have policed over 340 traffic accidents from Wednesday Jan. 1 to Friday Jan. 3, 2014.  By the time you read this article the numbers will surely have increased.  The Michigan State Police Brighton Post not only helped police accidents but along with other posts sent a full detail to assist at the Winter Classic Hockey Game.  All hands were on deck to be sure.  I mention this because you should know the men and women of the Michigan State Police were all working to provide safe travels for the citizens of the state.  There was literally no one not working this Jan. 1. The other reason is I take this as opportunity to remind you to wear your seat belt.  Most people wear their seat belts without question but do you keep it on after an accident.  I know you may think why or maybe you have never thought of it.  

About two years ago a Trooper was policing a crash on US 23 near I-96 interchange.  The weather conditions were much the same as they have been the last several days.  The Trooper had just sat back in his vehicle and buckled his seat belt.  He was just beginning to fill out the paperwork and collect the necessary information when he was struck from behind by a vehicle.  The force of the impact was jolt to say the least, some gear and other things in the vehicle were thrown about.  The Trooper though was left with a minor injury.  If the Trooper had failed to put his seat belt back on even just sitting on the freeway the force of the impact would have caused him to strike his steering wheel and most likely his head would have hit the windshield.   The injuries could have been worse.  Putting the seatbelt back on even while sitting waiting for help to arrive can prevent further injuries and help keep you safe.

If you are involved in accident in bad weather or good weather for that matter, it is a natural reaction to want to help or even check on the other driver.  It is not always a good idea though to get out of the car.  The first thing to do if possible is to get to a safe location.  If you are along the freeway and cars are drivable get to the shoulder of the road.  The law does allow for you to move your vehicle for safety reasons if necessary after an accident.  If a vehicle is not drivable do not just get out of the vehicle.  Make sure it is safe to do so, stay aware of your surroundings.  Drivers may not see you especially in low visibility.  Make sure to activate your hazard lights to increase your visibility.  If you are waiting for police to arrive keep your seat belt on.  In extremely bad conditions other drivers trying to slow down or avoid an accident can lose control and add to the wreck.

If you are driving make sure to not use electronic devices or get distracted while driving.  Leave plenty of space between you and other vehicles and as always decrease your speed.  Less speed will give you more reaction time and maneuverability in bad conditions.

I hope everyone has had a safe holiday season and safe travels.  

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