This March, a Citybus double-decker slammed into a stationary truck on Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Highway, claiming the lives of two drivers and injuring 16 people. This serious traffic accident has once again raised the concern in society about what drivers should do when their cars break down in the highway, as well as the mismanagement of the tunnel company. Today, this article from Kwiksure will divulge some safety tips on what to do in a highway crash, how to avoid highway accidents, and how insurance can protect you.
The fatal accident on West Kowloon Highway
The tragedy unfolded when the truck had broken down and remained in the middle lane for about 45 minutes, during which time the driver had been calling for a tow truck without success and decided to put objects on the road to alert other drivers. Dashcam video from a nearby vehicle shows that the truck had stopped with its rear platform lowered, potentially blocking its hazard warning lights. On the other hand, it seems the bus driver did not notice the truck nor break and rammed into the truck.
The Western Harbour Tunnel Company was under fire for not knowing the truck had been stranded in the middle of the highway it manages due to the alleged “blind spots” in CCTV coverage. At the time of writing this article, the tunnel company claimed that the rotating camera did not spot the truck as it was pointed the other way.
What should drivers do when their cars break down in the highway?
Previously we have launched an infographic called “What to do in the event of a car accident” to illustrate and educate road users on how to handle such an emergency. Highway crashes are, if anything, even more dangerous than common traffic accidents. Thus, it can be life-saving knowing how to handle a highway breakdown beforehand, which might happen when you least expect it and can be tricky even for experienced drivers.
Pull off and call for help
First and foremost, drivers should stay calm and pull off the road quickly. However, it may not always be possible, depending on the situations of the road and your vehicle. In that case, you should turn on your hazard warning lights and call towing services, the tunnel company or even the police for assistance as soon as possible.
If possible, leave the vehicle
Secondly, it is generally deemed dangerous for drivers to stay in the vehicle as it poses a danger to both yourself and other drivers. However, if you are stuck dead in the middle of the road with heavy traffic around you, or if the weather condition is poor, your only option is to stay in the car and wait for help to arrive.
Thirdly, walk to the roadside safely and seek help if the situation allows you to do so. Drivers should never stand behind or in front of the vehicle as you are at risk of being struck by drivers who cannot see you. Neither should they attempt to place any warning objects on the carriageway as it is a dangerous action and the objects placed may pose danger to other road users.
What can drivers do to avoid a highway crash?
While it is fun to speed up to the limit on the highway, there are some safety rules that every driver should abide by.
Keep a safe distance
Even though all vehicles are traveling at a high speed on a highway, it is still recommended that drivers should keep a third-second following distance as you never know when the car in front of you may suddenly stop. A safe distance is a cushion so that you can have the extra reaction time to avoid a rear-end collision.
Keep at least one hand on the steering wheel
Even if you are an expert driver, you should stay concentrated when driving at a high speed. Sometimes it could be other drivers’ fault but at the end of the day, you want to ascertain that you are in control of the car when accidents happen. The stakes are just too high for drivers to take chances.
Prevention is the best cure. Changing the oil regularly to avoid vehicle failure and keeping the tires properly inflated are just some of the check-ups you can do to ensure your motor is working fine. After all, a blown tire is already enough to send your vehicle to another lane and cause serious accidents.
Insurance claims after accidents
It is worth noting that while the coverage limit for third-party injuries and deaths is HK$100 million, the coverage for third-party liabilities tops at HK$1 million only, which is usually not enough if the accident involves business vehicles or public properties. Therefore, drivers should consider topping up their existing insurance coverage for the extra layer of financial protection.
Seek insurance advice from a leading insurance brokerage
With over 19 years of experience, Kwiksure is an award-winning insurance brokerage that is specialized in motor insurance, home insurance, fire insurance, and more. Our team of experts is on hand to answer your questions pertaining to insurance. Contact us today for impartial insurance advice, an obligation-free quote, and/or a plan comparison!