With traffic moving at 70 mph, any obstruction in the road can be a prescription for danger. But it doesn’t have to be in the road to cause a hazard. A stalled vehicle left roadside, an accident or an emergency vehicle can cause drivers to be distracted and bring traffic to a halt. That’s why there are state and local laws that authorize law enforcement to remove abandoned vehicles.
When law enforcement makes the call to remove an abandoned vehicle it’s not done as a punitive measure it’s a public safety measure aimed at ensuring secondary accidents do not occur. A vehicle is determined to be abandoned when it is left unattended or the owner will not or cannot move it on his own due to some incapacitation that may include an accident or arrest. When a vehicle becomes abandoned in or around traffic there is a chance that another vehicle could hit it and cause an accident. This is considered a secondary accident.
The Virginia Center for Transportation Innovation and Research, partnering with The Virginia State Department of Transportation, conducted a study in 2007 to better understand the relationship between primary and secondary accidents. Part of their findings included that “a 10-minute increase in primary accident duration is associated with a 15 percent higher odds of secondary accidents occurring.” This means that the longer it takes for a tow truck to arrive, assess, recover, hook-up and clean up the higher the odds of a secondary accident are of occurring. A few minutes can make a world of difference.
As towing professionals it is our responsibility to move as quickly and safely as possible when dispatched to an accident. Even if the vehicles aren’t blocking traffic. Fifteen minutes waiting to see the dentist can be excruciating, but 15 minutes waiting for a tow truck can be a matter of life and death.