One of the most common points of confusion after crashes is whether drivers are supposed to stay put or move their vehicles to the shoulder/side of the road.
Many people think that doing so can interfere with the police’s or insurance company’s investigation of who is at fault, and others believe that moving their vehicles automatically means they will be assigned blame for their crashes.
If you’re involved in a crash in Oklahoma, here’s what to know about moving your vehicle.
Oklahoma Law Requires You to Move Your Vehicle After a Minor Crash
After a crash, your first job is to check yourself and your passengers for injuries. If no one is injured, there are no hazardous materials involved, and your vehicle is capable of being moved, Oklahoma law says you must move your vehicle out of lanes of traffic.
Clearing lanes after minor crashes keeps traffic flowing and reduces the risk of additional crashes (for example, if an approaching driver fails to slow in time to avoid hitting one of the wrecked vehicles).
According to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office (OHSO), for every minute a crashed vehicle remains on the road, traffic is delayed by an extra five minutes. And the longer traffic is delayed after a crash, the more likely another serious crash may occur as a result.
Failure to move your vehicle after a minor crash can result in a misdemeanor citation.
Where Should You Move Your Vehicle After a Crash?
The OHSO recommends moving your vehicle to the nearest emergency pullout, highway shoulder, off-ramp shoulder, or other safe location.
When moving your vehicle, be cautious and alert for traffic near you. Other drivers may attempt to drive around the crash scene, and they may not expect you to re-enter the flow of traffic after the crash.
Tell the Other Driver to Move Their Vehicle, Too
It’s common for drivers to be unaware of Oklahoma’s law requiring vehicles to be moved after minor crashes. When you (carefully and cautiously) exit your vehicle to speak to the other driver after the crash, remind them of this law.
Be sure to park both vehicles close together, and never leave the scene of the crash before police arrive. In fact, it’s a good idea to take a picture of or write down the other driver’s license plate number after the crash in case they decide to leave the scene!
Don’t Move Your Vehicle if It’s Dangerous to Do So
Some crashes can cause severe engine damage. When engines or fuel lines are damaged, vehicles can become extremely dangerous to their occupants. They can catch on fire, putting drivers and passengers at risk of burns or smoke inhalation.
If your vehicle is producing smoke or you see flames coming from under the hood or anywhere else, do not attempt to drive it, even just a short distance away. Instead, exit it as quickly as possible and move to a safe location as far away from it as possible.
You Aren’t Required to Move Your Vehicle if There Are Injuries, Fatalities, or Hazardous Materials
Moving your vehicle isn’t legally required and is often unsafe when someone has been injured or killed during the crash, or if an involved vehicle is carrying hazardous materials. If your crash meets any of these criteria, you should instead stay where you are and call 911 if you’re able to do so.
Stay on the line with the dispatcher long enough to tell them your location, how many vehicles are involved, how many people are injured, and the severity of their injuries.
How Is Fault Determined When Vehicles Are Moved?
Car accident injuries aren’t always obvious, especially after crashes. It’s common for victims to think they’re uninjured after accidents, only to later experience severe pain or disability. In these cases, victims may then helpfully move their vehicles out of the path of traffic.
If this happened to you, don’t worry. Fault can still be proven even when vehicles are moved by analyzing evidence, including available dashcam or surveillance footage, witness statements, damage to the vehicles, tire marks, and more. Taking photos at the crash scene can be helpful in proving fault.
In addition, insurance companies in Oklahoma are forbidden from assigning fault based on whether vehicles were moved after crashes.
Our Oklahoma Car Accident Lawyers Want to Build Your Crash Claim
At Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers, we know that crashes aren’t always what they seem to be. Drivers and their passengers frequently “walk away” from crashes without a scratch, only to later realize they actually suffered serious injuries to muscles, ligaments, joints, nerves, or even internal organs.
Whether your injury was obvious after a crash or not, and whether you moved your vehicle after that crash or not, you can count on our Oklahoma auto accident attorneys to help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us anytime for a free consultation.