Traffic

2 people were killed after their cars broke down. Here’s how to be safe on the road.

Two people have been killed this week in the Triangle after getting out of their cars on the side of the road.

Over a 10-year period, there were 420 crashes because of disabled vehicles in North Carolina, according to the UNC Highway Safety Research Center. Those crashes represent only 1.5% of all pedestrian crashes during that time — from 2007 to 2016.

But of the 420 crashes, 69 were fatalities, which represents 4% of all pedestrian fatalities. More than half of the 420 crashes resulted in injuries. Nearly two-thirds of all the crashes occurred in the dark, and most were on roadways that were not lighted.

Both fatalities in the Triangle this week occurred in the pre-dawn hours.

In Orange County, a man was hit and killed on the side of Interstate 40 while changing his tire. DeShawn Perry, 33, was killed around 3:30 a.m. Monday near the I-40 and I-85 split, The News & Observer previously reported. It is being investigated as a hit-and-run.

In Durham, a woman was killed Tuesday around 3 a.m. after getting out of her disabled vehicle, according to the Durham Police Department. The crash happened in the 2400 bock of South Miami Boulevard near Lumley Road.

Leydi Eliane Salazar-Camargo, 35, was driving a Ford Explorer, which broke down in the left lane and had its hazard lights on. She had gotten out of the car to check on it and was at the front of the car when the Explorer was struck from behind by a Honda Accord. The impact pushed the Explorer to run over Salazar-Camargo. The Accord’s driver, who was charged with driving while impaired, had minor injuries, according to police. A passenger in Salazar-Carmago’s car was treated for head and facial injuries.

How to lower risk of being hit

There are things you can do to lower your risk of being in a crash if your car breaks down.

AAA recommendations include:

Pull as far off the road as possible.

Turn on your emergency flashing lights.

Draw attention to your car being disabled, such as lifting the car hood or attaching a brightly colored handkerchief or scarf to your antenna or window.

Remain in your vehicle if possible. If you exit your car, do it as safely away from oncoming traffic as you can, like the side of the vehicle away from oncoming traffic. This goes for passengers, too.

Use your cell phone to call for help from inside your car. If you call from outside your car, make sure you are a safe distance from the vehicle and the road.

Properly set up warning triangles or flares.

‘Move over’ law in NC

There are also state laws about where you can leave your car on the road, and moving over when there’s an emergency vehicle on the side of the road.

North Carolina’s “move over” law requires drivers to move over one lane, or at least slow down if they can’t change lanes before driving past law enforcement and other emergency vehicles with flashing lights. The law also applies to wreckers and incident management assistance patrol cars stopped on a highway shoulder, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation. The penalty is a $250 fine.

It is against state law to leave your car on a state highway or state bridge unless it is disabled to the point it cannot be moved. You also can’t park or leave your car on the shoulder of a state highway or bridge unless your vehicle “can be clearly seen by approaching drivers from a distance of 200 feet in both directions and does not obstruct the normal movement of traffic,” according to state law.

Staff writer Ashad Hajela also contributed to this story.

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Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan covers North Carolina state government and politics at The News & Observer. She previously covered Durham for 13 years, and has received six North Carolina Press Association awards, including a 2018 award for investigative reporting.
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