219 On the side of the road
It happened again today. We're on a rural Interstate Highway, trying to be as safe as possible in high-density traffic, of which most are going 10-20 mph greater than the speed limit. A sedan is stopped on the shoulder of the road (but not very far over). A lone woman is standing outside the vehicle (but within a few feet) talking into her mobile phone. She's behind the vehicle (nearest to oncoming traffic). —And, she's facing away from the traffic!
It was likely an innocent and natural attempt to minimize ambient sound from the loud traffic while on the phone. Yet, this is actually a shocking example of inattention to situational awareness that could prove fatal. Many emergency responders can tell you of "unintended pedestrians" who are struck by vehicles, and even of colleagues who sustain a line of duty death. Some even speak of drunks or sleep drivers 'homing in' on the flashing lights of stopped emergency vehicles. NEVER turn your back on approaching traffic!
It is very important as a vehicle occupant to carry clothing suitable to the weather for waiting outside the car if it's in a poor location. Light, bright, reflective vests are useful at night. Few people carry warning triangles or flares (and flares may not be safe if there is spilled gasoline or dry grass and brush). Fewer yet, post sufficient warnings far enough back to give drivers sufficient warning at high speed. (This may be farther, still, if there is a 'blind summit' or 'blind bend' behind which your car is hidden from view.)
While it is tempting to shelter within the vehicle, this may limit your ability to see all around you, perhaps helping 'highway robbers'; to sneak upon you in the false guise of a good Samaritan. Clearly, it helps to have trusted companions, a cellular phone (with back-up power), a knowledge of local roadside assistance call boxes and services, and a wariness of suspicious offers of help. A lawful means of self-defense may, in extremis, be essential.
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. (admin). Pedestrian Fatalities on Interstate Highways: Characteristics & Countermeasures. (PDF: 75KB) 11/2012. [No Author]
American Automobile Association. AAA-What-To-Do-When-Your-Vehicle-Breaks-Down.pdf. [No Date; No Author]
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