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Astraist
Master Driver



Joined: Mar 27, 2010
Posts: 209

PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2011 3:05 pm Reply with quote Back to top

My former articles dealt with subjects relating to what to do to avoid hazardous situations or solve them. This article deals with a seemingly more benign but terribly dangerous situation: Stopping on the shoulder of the road. While many roads in Western states (Mainly the US, Europe, UK) have special safe stopping places (repair bays) every three hundred meters or so along the highways -- there are still many highways with open shoulders, whether a hard shoulder (part of the tarmac road) or gravel shoulders.

Where these shoulders exist, there are drivers that would stop therein. Unfortunately, many of these people find themselves seriously injured or dead soon later. Statistically, it is in fact that hard shoulder which is the most dangerous place on the road. It is a place where stopping is legally and logically prohibited, no matter for what reason!

I know, you are tired/hungry, the kid has to "go", your engine is boiling, a tyre explodes, someone gets sick, your cargo gets loose or drops off -- no matter the reason, stopping is prohibited! I hereby issue several suggestions:

What NOT to do
1. Don't stop or slow down significantly on the driving lanes.

2. Don't stop to try and diagnose mechanical malfunctions, no matter how simple it might appear. In particular, don't change wheels, even if you got a flat on the side opposite the road.

3. Don't stop to help others.

4. Don't stop for reasons of tiresome, hunger, feces, dropped/loose cargo, and not even for a blown tyre or boiling engine.

5. In countries where you drive on the right, don't stop on the left-side shoulder. Even when you must stop (heart attack, car shut down or catches on fire) stop on the right shoulder.

What to do in case of a mechanical malfunction?

1. If a tyre pops, keep on going. Even if it's the tyre which is not facing the road, don't stop. Move on the shoulder, slow down to about 10km/h and keep on driving to a safe stopping place. No significant damage will be caused and you would reduce the risk significantly.

2. If your engine shuts-off suddenly, it's still possible to flick the car into neutral (in an automatic too) and let it slide forward (on the shoulder) towards a nearby safe stop or at-least (if no such stopping place is nigh) towards the right shoulder and as far from the road as possible. With a manual transmission, it's possible to turn the key all the way which can help move the car further after it has stopped -- again, towards a safe stopping place or further from the road.

3. If your engine boils, you should still have the time to reach a safe stopping place. Using the heating helps to disperse heat. Remember, car parts (including an engine valve head that might be incinerated in this case) can be replaced. Human body parts, cannot!

4. In the situation mentioned in (2), once the car has stopped, the following safety rules apply:

(a) Get on the shoulder and off of the road with attention to bikes, other cars on the shoulder, and whatever.

(b) Get the car as far away from the road as possible. Either stick to the edge of the road, and where possible go off-road and unto the dirt and as far from the tarmac as possible.

(c) Wear the gleaming yellow robe and take the triangle sign. Get yourself and all passengers out of the car and over the guardrail and as far from it as possible, and where possible go over the trench -- even in the price of a little chill or wet clothes.

(d) From behind the armco, walk 50 meters forward ahead of your car and place the hazard sign therein. If the road is bendy, place the sign in front of the closest bend.

(e) Don't stand parallel to the road, but a bit "in front" of your own car (in an imaginary horizontal line) so in a collision it will not be thrown in your direction. Stand looking in the direction of oncoming traffic and where possible behind some sort of shelter.

(f) If there is no armco/trench/open area that enables you to get away from the car, remain inside, keep everyone snugged in their seat belts, in full contact with the seat and with lifted head-restraints, and keep your foot firmly against the brakes, unless you drive a small car with passengers in the rear. Keep the hazard lights working.
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myownworld
Site Admin
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Joined: Jan 06, 2010
Posts: 485

PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2011 3:20 pm Reply with quote Back to top

That was a very helpful post on an issue many of us neglect and often overlook. When one is in an emergency, it is quite likely to end up putting ourselves at a greater risk than before, so all these tips should definitely help. Thanks for a great post as always! Smile
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Misha
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Joined: Aug 02, 2006
Posts: 705
Location: McLean, VA, USA

PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 1:06 pm Reply with quote Back to top

I mostly agree to the measures you propose, though I don't consider all ways of stopping equally dangerous. Smile

To me the main thing is not to stop in the travel lanes or on the left shoulder, for right side driving. Those are extremely dangerous places. Right shoulder when it is wide enough to allow half a dozen feet clearance or more between a stopped car and the traffic is a way safer place, though certainly not as safe as moving with the flow of traffic. Smile
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Astraist
Master Driver



Joined: Mar 27, 2010
Posts: 209

PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 6:48 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Misha, I have consulted this subject with several local professionals. I quote one: "Anyone who thinks that a wide shoulder, even 10 meters wide (and I'm just throwing numbers because they are never so wide), are safe -- is wrong. Ten meters disappear within a fraction of a second when a car is traveling at highway speeds (over 60km/h as a rule of thumb) veers towards us".

I repeat:

- Don't stop to pee/sleep/talk/check the map/for the kids/for helping others/for picking up passengers/for buying something.

- Don't stop for a flat tire. Drive ON the right shoulder at a pace of about 10km/h. This facilitates safety until you reach a proper stopping place.

- Don't stop for engine heating. You could wait for a safe stopping place.

- Don't stop even if your engine shuts down -- try to slide towards a safe stopping place or at least as far away from the road as possible.

- The left shoulder is out of discussion. There is NEVER a reason to stop therein. Not even if the car catches fire, a passenger has a heart attack -- there is always time to move right.

- Of course this only holds true for highways (again, over 60km/h speed) and specifically for highways without proper and safe stopping bays.
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Misha
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Joined: Aug 02, 2006
Posts: 705
Location: McLean, VA, USA

PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:11 am Reply with quote Back to top

I think I was not clear enough then. Smile Safety is always relative, and I never said stopping on a shoulder is as safe as being not anywhere close to the road at all. However, as I said, stopping on a shoulder is significantly safer than stopping in a travel lave, just because cars normally travel in that lane - and veering off, while happens, is a rare abnormal occasion.

So no, I do stop on a wide shoulder to pee and do other stuff, and if you continue to insist I should not, we just have to agree to disagree Smile
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Astraist
Master Driver



Joined: Mar 27, 2010
Posts: 209

PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:53 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Misha wrote:
I think I was not clear enough then. Smile Safety is always relative, and I never said stopping on a shoulder is as safe as being not anywhere close to the road at all. However, as I said, stopping on a shoulder is significantly safer than stopping in a travel lave, just because cars normally travel in that lane - and veering off, while happens, is a rare abnormal occasion.

So no, I do stop on a wide shoulder to pee and do other stuff, and if you continue to insist I should not, we just have to agree to disagree Smile


The risk is less abnormal than it might appear. Collisions with car on the right shoulder count for more than 10% of the collisions in Israel! An English research estimated the risk of standing therein as multiplied by 80% by the mere act of standing there for 11 minutes. The sense of safety is an illusion. Just standing with the car will "attract" other drivers as they glance at your car. It's the most dangerous place on the road!

If it wasn't so dangerous, would I not insist that drivers not stop therein, even in the price of causing serious mechanical malfunctions to the car?
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Misha
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Joined: Aug 02, 2006
Posts: 705
Location: McLean, VA, USA

PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 2:07 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Interesting, do you think veering off to the right is as usual as veering off to the left?
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Astraist
Master Driver



Joined: Mar 27, 2010
Posts: 209

PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 4:14 am Reply with quote Back to top

The main function is speed. In towns, under speed limits that don't exceed 30mph, any little swerve caused by inattention, drowsiness or an attempt to avoid an obstruction results in a smaller sway from the lane, a quicker correction and less damage in a collision.

In highways, a fraction of a second of inattention will result in a veer substantial enough to hit a car on the shoulder. The left lane is typically faster, and the left shoulder is more narrow, while also limited by the divider rail, so there's nowhere to go.

I don't think the reasons matter as much here. The statistics show that the risk is hugh, for whatever reason, and in spite of what seems logical to most people -- so we need to follow the statistics.
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Misha
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Joined: Aug 02, 2006
Posts: 705
Location: McLean, VA, USA

PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 9:42 am Reply with quote Back to top

95,976% of all online statistic figures are made up on the spot. The rest is usually heavily skewed by interest groups or just misinterpreted. Very Happy

To believe your stats I have to see the source in one the languages I understand (English or Russian). The source should include the description of methodology, too.

And you did not answer the question - do you think veering of to the left is as usual as veering off to the right? Smile
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Astraist
Master Driver



Joined: Mar 27, 2010
Posts: 209

PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 10:38 am Reply with quote Back to top

Not sure. I myself don't have the statistics near me. I can stand behind what I listed above:

About 10% of the collisions in my homeland of Israel. Subsequent to this, and based on not a few collisions like this that were personally inspected by some of us local instructors (who also investigate accidents), led us to the conclusion that stopping on the shoulder should be avoided, even in the price of causing mechanical damage to the tire, rim or engine. This advice have been lately enforced by the local police

As for your question: As I said, due to the bad combination of faster traffic and less space, veers happen to the left more than the right. You can also notice that the line of the left-hand shoulder is a solid white line, over which it is forbidden to go over.

To support my views, I issue an article of my trainer, translated into English (by myself):

On the hard shoulder of life
There's no stopping on the hardshoulder of the highway. Period! But what to do when you really need to stop?

This article is not for the optimists. Nothing ever happens to optimists. What is the chance that, as I stop alongside the road to write down a phone number or complete a very important car, another truck or car would simply swerve from it's lane and hit me?! In the last years I had to review several areas of collisions where drivers were badly injured or killed due to the poor judgement that made them believe that it's okay to stop on the hard-shoulder. We are talking about dozens of people killed each year for no good reason. Just like that.

It so happens, that the statistical chance of being hit when standing alongside the road is very high, and the results are extremely painful. Any little swerve, that would normally end up with a little correction or at most by hitting the armco, ends completly different when there's a vehicle parked on the shoulder of the road.

The force created by a vehicle traveling at highway speeds hitting a stationary vehicle is immense. No car was made to sustain a rearward collision from an often three-digit velocity. To add to the problem, the people around the car usually stand unprotected and thus most these collisions end with a high rate of fatalities.

How many times have you heard the sentence: "Wait, I am pulling over." For some reason, most drivers learned to treat the shoulder as a safe place to stop, a refuge from the road, where in fact it is a place where we are forbidden to stop, forever!

A few years back, a friend of mine stopped his car on the shoulder of the Ayalon highway due to a flat. He stuck to the wall to the right and came out of the car to snatch the triangle hazard sign quickly. With the sign in his hand, he heard the screeching of car tyres (when cars would still lock wheels...) and realized he was moments away from being crushed between his own car and the locked-wheeled car behind and reluctantly leaped into the right lane of moving traffic (!)...

It's a miracle that he was not run down or physically injured. His car and the hitting car were considerably damaged. Once I arrived, not moments later, I found a friend that suddenly "earned" an extra 10 years of age, holding on to a newly found friend: the hazard sign.

On the shoulder
You got a flat tyre, your car is breaking down, you got an important call, you are dying to catch a few moments' slumber...There are a variety of reasons for stopping on the shoulder. The problem: We all count on the cars besides us to keep on going straight but when something goes wrong the results are very grim. The risk exists both inside and outside of the car.

As said, the reasons for stopping on the shoulder are versatile: A mechanical malfunction, a flat tyre, a phone call, tiresome, feces, loose cargo and others. The solution for all of these is simple: Not to stop on the shoulder. Period. Here we have solutions for several situations that require stopping, but not on the shoulder.

Taking a call or resting: That's what gas stations are for, and likewise restaurants, side roads, entrances to settlements, etc...In most European highways there are special safe rest stops alongside the road every some hundreds of meters, with a 911 hotline. Verily it would be interesting to see how such safe stops be used in our country...Perhaps the risk of barbecue encampments refrains the authorities from placing such bays. And don't let the existing bays at highway 6 and road nr. 431 to fool you into thinking how a true safe stopping place looks like.

The kid needs to go... Let him go than...If there is no safe stopping place there is no stopping! Family life require a great deal of planning, especially -- as any parent knows -- planning the rest stops for when nature is calling. By the way, keep in mind that the padding on most boosters and safety seats for kids can be removed and washed (even though repetitive washing can impair the fabric's fire resistance qualities...)

Loose cargo: One must put effort to harness all objects carefully. If the car fails to hold the cargo or if you are bad at tying knots, maybe it's best to use professional shipping services?

Mechanical issues: It's important to avoid break-downs by proper maintenance and avoid driving a faulty car in the notion of getting it fixed by driving it. That's what the towing payment in the insurance is for... But if there is a mechanical problem, what to do? If possible, it's best to keep on driving. If the car has shut down, it's best to try and let the car run freely ahead towards a near stopping place or at least as far from the road as possible (which can also be done in an automatic by flicking the tranny into neutral). With a manual transmission, it's also possible to get the car moving even after it has stopped -- by using the starter to forcibly move the car. While not healthy to the mechanical parts, if it can help avoid standing in a dangerous spot -- it's surely worth it!

If stuck, it's forbidden to remain inside the car. The driver and all passengers must get out of the car, even in the price of soaked wet clothes. Make an effort to get everyone over the armco and a few feet away from it and, where possible, over the trench. It's also good to stand in a direction towards which the car would not be thrown if another car hits it, all while standing behind some sort of cover with the eyes towards the direction of oncoming traffic. The driver must wear the hi-viz vest and call emergency services.

If there is no better choice than staying in the car, because of very violent weather or a hostile environment, it's important to remain fastened, ready and with brakes applied. I hereby address all amateur mechanics: What is the chance that you will manage to repair an acute malfunction of unknown reason, on the side of the road without the right tools? It is not better to use professional towing services that cost yearly like one hour in the shop? The same applies for stopping to help others.

Flat tyres: I once thought that stopping for a flat on the left-front wheel as a lesser evil. Nowadays I have decided both are simply too dangerous. It's worth to drive on the flat tyre, ruin the tyre and maybe even the rim, and not stop and bend down to replace a tyre near oncoming traffic. By driving on the (right) shoulder itself at a crawling pace of around 10km/h, we reduce the risk considerably and no serious damage will be caused for anything other than the tyre and surely nothing beyond the rim. Too many people paid in blood for refusing to keep on going for a several dozens of meters to a safe stopping place. Are your life worth less than the price of a tyre?

Hazard triangle sign: Must be carefully placed inside the trunk, as to be ready for immediate snatching. It's important to ensure proper placement relative to the car which can help other drivers avoid us. The law states that the sign must be seen from a distance of at least 100 meters. This refers mainly to winding roads where the triangle must be placed significantly further behind the car and before a preceding bend, where the walk towards the point where you choose to place the triangle must be made on the other side of the armco.

Hazard lights can also help, especially in the dark or dusk. In some cars (of German manufacturers) it's possible to use the lights only on the side facing the road and so keep the battery from dying. This is done by using the signal handle with the engine turned off.
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Astraist
Master Driver



Joined: Mar 27, 2010
Posts: 209

PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 5:34 am Reply with quote Back to top

I researched the subject deeper and I have some answers. It so happens that people swerve from their lane more often than one might think. In a busy highway, looking into the cars will prove the statistical estimations that half of the people are driving "impaired" -- they could have alchohol in their blood, be on medication or drugs, talking on a phone, looking away from the road towards a commercial sign or the rear seat, wandering into deep thoughts, being exahusted and other reasons.

These people can often be observed as cars "wiggling" in the lane and sometimes protruding over the shoulder line or towards the near lane. At slow speeds, or when the shoulder is clear, they usually recover awareness and get back on the lane, or at most hit the pavement or armco. There are several documented cases of cars swerving enough to have burst into the yards of houses situated near freeways.

This is contributed by a phenomena called "target fixation." We tend to say that vision leads the way in driving. In a stressfull situation, staring at an object will make us hit it, while looking away from it will make us avoid it. People drive on the highway with their eyes DOWN the road only a few dozen feet ahead. They suddenly see a standing car dangerously close to them, whether they veered towards it by now or not, and hit it.

Due to the differences in velocities, the collisions are of the most deadly. The cars are not intended to sustain such a force from behind. I saw such an accident, where the trunk was squeezed into the back seat. The people usualy sit without the belts or not even inside the car. The injuries at horrible:

People squeezed to bits by standing between two cars or between the stopped car and the hitting vehile; a person leaning to replace a tire on the side of the road, and "taken away" by a swerved car; a person leaning to replace the tire on the other side, and gets the rim of the wheel hitting their head and going through it; a car being tossed or toppled over his own car; passengers being projected out of the cars for dozens of meters; people going under the car and losing a leg for a swerved car (not to mention a swerving semi!)

Car parts (burnt cylinder head, blown tire, a demolished rim) can be replaed -- human body parts CANNOT.
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Misha
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Joined: Aug 02, 2006
Posts: 705
Location: McLean, VA, USA

PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2011 10:07 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Well, your opinion or my opinion or your mentor opinion is just that - opinion, until it is backed by solid research. I don't see any research on your side, just reasoning, and I can counter-reason easily.

I asked you if you think swerving to the left is as common as swerving to the right, and you dodged the question. However, it has a crucial importance to a validity of your case. If swerving to the left is at least comparable to swerving to the right, following your logic ALL TWO-LANE ROADS should be prohibited for car usage. Every single one of them. Because heads on collision is way more deadly than a shoulder hit. Think about it. Smile
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Astraist
Master Driver



Joined: Mar 27, 2010
Posts: 209

PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 8:43 am Reply with quote Back to top

I said: Yes. Swerves to the left are more casual. Following that logic, swerves in two-lane roadways, leading to head-on collisions, are also dangerous and two-lane roadways are the most dangerous type of road and require caution.

Besides, swerving towards an oncoming car is usually a result of slightly different causes. Besides the normal causes of fatigue, alcohol and momentary distractions, the main cause for head-on collisions is a bad off-road recovery. I.E. The driver swerves right to the righthand gravel shoulder, gets a fright and pulls back sharply towards the road, which makes him loose control and spin or swerve towards the opposite lane/shoulder.

Like I said, swerving towards the shoulders is a result of low concentration and distractions, or an attempt to swerve, and than an effect called "target fixation" (Archer Effect) leading the driver, who is looking at the stopped car, to subconciously drive towards it.

As for proof, I believe I have stated the article I translated. Opinions of professionals are just good a proof for me.
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charn
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Joined: Apr 03, 2011
Posts: 42

PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 5:05 pm Reply with quote Back to top

This is especially relevant for hitchhikers. The one I remember was standing near his brokedown van on I-75 in Detroit, where 70 mph is usually the minimum. Maybe he thought the van would be a collision guard. To me it was just a visibility barrier, so I did not see him until I was almost passing him. Anyone who decides to stop and pick him up would have very little time to make such a decision before being long past, and such an impulse decision could result in swerving right into him.

I've also been stuck on highway shoulders a few times. The worst was being a passenger in a borrowed van with a radiator leak. Since it was borrowed, the driver decided to stop there instead of boiling the engine for the last mile. We waited for a tow truck for approximately seven hours. Even if we had known the shoulder danger stats, we probably would not have cared eventually. Later I heard about improvised solutions, such as putting raw eggs in the radiator, so we could have walked to a store for repair supplies. We had enough time to try anything.
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myownworld
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Posts: 485

PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2011 3:51 am Reply with quote Back to top

raw eggs in the radiator?? Were they supposed to keep it from leaking.... or was it a desperate way of cooking them for a light snack while you waited? 7 hours is certainly a long time to wait..... Shocked
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