When snow falls, accidents pile up.
Authorities say that the best thing drivers can do is move their damaged vehicles out of harm’s way if there are no injuries.
In Idaho, it’s the law.
Idaho is among about two dozen states that require drivers to move vehicles out of travel lanes in the case of non-injury accidents.
The “quick clearance law” has been in effect in the Gem State since 2005.
In Washington, moving damaged vehicles can be done at the driver’s discretion, but state troopers said that getting a vehicle to a safe spot is often the best thing.
The idea is to prevent secondary accidents and pileups that can easily occur when pavement is slick and drivers are going too fast for conditions.
About 20 percent of all crashes occur after an initial crash, and secondary crashes are often serious.
“Clearing the road following a minor crash and giving emergency responders plenty of room significantly reduces the chance that another collision will occur,” according to the Idaho Transportation Department.
“By minimizing exposure to passing traffic, it’s also a safety measure for victims or witnesses.”
Washington State Patrol Trooper Troy Briggs said drivers can move their vehicles to a safe spot and still be within the law’s requirements to stop at the scene, render assistance if necessary, and exchange information with the other driver or drivers.
“If you are involved in a minor fender-bender, move your vehicle to the side of the road,” Briggs said.
In fact, the state has posted signs along Interstate 90 in Spokane advising drivers to move to the shoulder lane.
The Idaho quick-clearance law is aimed primarily at interstates, controlled-access highways and major divided highways, but drivers on any highway can move out of the way to avoid obstructing traffic, officials said.
Troopers or other law officers respond to virtually every accident on I-90, Briggs said.
With winter driving season here, Briggs is advising motorists to get prepared for snow and ice.
That means making sure your vehicle is equipped for the season with snow tires or all-season tread, tire chains, shovel, water, flashlight, extra clothing or blankets, an emergency food supply, charged cellphone and signal devices such as flares.
Some of those items are important in cross-country travel as opposed to city driving.
Briggs also is reminding drivers to slow down on snow and ice and drive with a light touch. Acceleration, turning and stopping should be done gently and slowly, with even pressure on the steering wheel and foot pedals. Following distances should be lengthened.
Online road views
With snow in the forecast, the Spokane Regional Traffic Management Center is reminding drivers that it has online tools to help navigate roads.
Nearly 70 traffic cameras in the region are available on the agency website at srtmc.org.
WSDOT on Twitter
Washington’s DOT announced last week that it reached a milestone on its Twitter account by surpassing 20,000 followers at midweek.
DOT tweets are at twitter.com/wsdot.
Corridor link to open
An interchange connecting U.S. Highway 2 with the North Spokane Corridor will open to the public on Wednesday.
A ribbon-cutting is planned for 2 p.m. on the southbound on-ramp from U.S. 2 to the new freeway. Traffic will be allowed later in the day.
Pedestrian plan poll
Spokane residents can participate in the development of a new pedestrian plan by taking an online survey at surveymonkey.com/s/PedQuest1.
The plan will set the stage for building safer routes to schools, shopping, parks, bus stops, public buildings and trails.
Street locations will be ranked so future sidewalk improvements can do the most good.
Two Spokane open houses are planned this week. Both will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m. They are Tuesday at Grant Elementary School, 1300 E. Ninth Ave., on a water main project in Eighth and Ninth avenues from Division to Hatch streets and Wednesday at Lidgerwood Elementary School, 5510 N. Lidgerwood St., on rehabilitation of Lidgerwood Street from North to Francis avenues.
Leaf pickups begun
Spokane street leaf pickups started on Sunday in northwest city neighborhoods. Crews will work their way south and east as weather allows.