'Clear the road' law set to take effect this weekend

Wednesday, October 29th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

You've probably always heard that if you're in a car accident, you should leave the car right where it happened. But Tulsa Police say you should move it instead.

And as News on 6 reporter Steve Berg tells us, a new law says so, too. Authorities say it will be a major U-turn in public thinking, but it has to be done. Just about everyone it seems has been told at one time or another to leave their car where it sits after an accident so police can investigate.

Bad idea, say police. Tulsa Police officer Craig Murray, "Other drivers in slowing down approaching that are causing secondary collisions. And those secondary collisions are causing injuries if not deaths and we're wanting to reduce that." And it happens more often than you might think.

As many as 20% of all highway crashes result as secondary incidence to other collisions. “For each additional minute that a primary crash takes to clear, the likelihood of a secondary crash occurrence increases 2.8%.”

So Oklahoma has passed a new "Clear the Road" law that takes effect November 1st. Police say if an accident has no injuries, no deaths, and no hazardous material, the people involved are responsible for doing everything they can to move the car off the roadway. "And movable means that it can be pushed, it can be driven, or that it can be towed off of the highway."

The same goes for any spilled cargo from an accident. Besides saving lives, police say it will save time and money to keep the highway traffic flowing. Authorities admit it might make it a little tougher to determine fault in a crash. But they say those concerns pale compared to their concerns about the secondary crashes.

Vehicles should be moved to the nearest shoulder, off-ramp shoulder, emergency pullout, or other safe location.

The law applies to city streets too. Police will only issue warnings until January 1st. After that, fines could range from $5 to $500.