How to handle a crash on the highway (don’t get out of your car)

61-year-old Westland man, 39-year-old Oak Park man killed

A crash Tuesday morning on eastbound I-696 near the Woodward Avenue exit has Michigan State Police officials putting out a message they hope will save lives.

OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. – A crash Tuesday morning on eastbound I-696 near the Woodward Avenue exit has Michigan State Police officials putting out a message they hope will save lives.

What should drivers do if they’re involved in a crash along the highway? Police said there are multiple keys to staying safe.

It happens far too often: Drivers are struck and killed after getting out of their cars to assess damage from a crash.

“These are just traffic crashes,” MSP Lt. Mike Shaw said. “They’re not a big deal. We get caught up in the fact, ‘Oh, I’ve got to call my insurance company. I’ve got to check damage.’ Get yourself safe before you actually get out there and look.”

How do you get yourself to safety? Imagine you’ve just been in a crash and you’re on the shoulder of I-696. Can your car still be driven? If so, you should pull it off the freeway and to a safe area where you can then call police and deal with the other driver.

“Michigan is a clear it or steer it state,” Shaw said. “If you can move your cars, move them off to the side of the road. If not, go up to the next exit and get off. No one is going to punish you for leaving. It’s not leaving the scene of a crash. You’re getting somewhere that’s safe.”

Police said with distracted drivers and the way some people act while driving, it’s not worth the risk of getting out on the side of the highway.

“It’s not worth your life,” Shaw said.

2 drivers killed in crash

Two drivers were killed on eastbound I-696 in Oakland County when two cars struck them while they were standing outside their vehicles following a minor crash, police said.

The two drivers had been involved in a minor crash around 5:30 a.m. Tuesday in the eastbound lanes of I-696 between the Woodward Avenue and Coolidge Highway exits, according to authorities.

“A minor crash -- two male individuals get out of their vehicles waling around and another vehicle comes through and hits them,” Shaw said.

That was followed by another vehicle that also might have hit the first two drivers while they were outside, according to MSP.

“Right now we believe we have four vehicles involved, two male fatalities,” Shaw said.

The victims have been identified as a 61-year-old Westland man and a 39-year-old Oak Park man, officials said. MSP is still trying to determine if the men were just talking or if they were trying to direct traffic when they were struck.

“If you’re involved with a traffic crash, it’s just a traffic crash,” Shaw said. “Just get off the freeway side of the road. Don’t get out of your car. I don’t think people ralize how fast traffic goes on the freeway until it’s too late in a case like this.”

One of the drivers who struck the pedestrians was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, authorities said. The other driver was treated and released, according to police.

Officers shut down I-696 for awhile to handle the investigation. The freeway has since reopened.

About the Authors:

Jason is Local 4’s utility infielder. In addition to anchoring the morning newscast, he often reports on a variety of stories from the tragic, like the shootings at Michigan State, to the off-beat, like great gas station food.

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.