For most of us, we can’t remember the last time that we were in a crash or this may be the first one that you have ever been in. Crashes happen very rarely to each individual motorist, but when it does happen, you need to know what to do. If your car is still functionable, move it to the shoulder of the road. Vehicles that have been disabled in the travel lanes of a roadway are endanger of being hit by oncoming vehicles. It is usually best to stay inside your vehicle. Your vehicle is designed to keep the occupants safe.
Call 911 to report the collision. Dispatch will ask you for your name, phone number, location of the collision, if there are any injuries, ejections, or if anyone is trapped in a vehicle and needs to be extricated out of the vehicle.
Once you have provided this information to dispatch and the first responders have been dispatched, be ready to provide the right information to law enforcement and to the other driver. Idaho State Law requires drivers involved in a vehicle collision to exchange certain information. The information that has to be exchanged is the driver’s name, address and, if available, at the scene of the accident, the operator’s driver’s license, proof of registration, and proof of liability insurance to the person struck or to the driver or person attending any vehicle collided with. Also request their current phone number.
When a Deputy is on scene, they will also help facilitate the exchange of this information. When a Deputy is not present, the easiest way to record the information is to use your cell phone to take a photo of the other driver’s license, registration, and insurance card. It is also recommended that you take photos of all sides of all vehicles that are involved in a collision. If law enforcement responds to the scene to do an investigation, they will also do this. By having your own photos, you can provide them to your insurance company as soon as they ask for them. It can also help reduce insurance fraud when there is no law enforcement investigation done.
From time to time people run out of gas, have a flat tire or their vehicle breaks down while they are driving, and they need help. The Payette County Sheriff’s Office is here to help you during these times. Call us on our non-emergency phone number at (208) 642-6006 ext. 1175. We will ask you for your location and the type of help that you need. We can come out to your location and give you a ride to a gas station. Most gas stations will loan out a gas can so that you can get enough gas to get your car started and drive to a gas station.
Did you get a flat tire and find out that you don’t have a jack? We will loan you our jack and help you change your tire. Some people don’t know how to change a flat tire. Our Deputies will give you a lesson on how to do it safely. We will help get you on the road again.
We can make phone calls for you to get a tow truck or to have a local tire shop respond to fix your tire.
Driving a vehicle becomes second nature to us because we are always driving somewhere. Have you ever taken the time to notice the rivers or canals that you are constantly crossing? A few times a year the Payette County Sheriff’s Office responds to a vehicle that has crashed into a river or a canal. The best chance of survival for you and your family is to have a plan before you have a crash that lands you in a river or canal.
Our vehicles have a multitude of electrical and computer systems in them. Most vehicles manufactured today have power windows. The first thing you want to do is roll down your window on the downstream side of the vehicle. It is important to do this before the electrical system has a chance to quit working because of the water. It is best to have everyone climb out of the vehicle and onto the roof of the vehicle. Try to get the attention of anyone that you can see.
If the vehicle ended upside down in the water or you can’t get the window down, know that the vehicle will typically float for a little bit as water starts to seep into the vehicle. The water will continue to seep in until the car is completely full of water and has sunk. The doors to the car will not open until after the car is full submerged. This is only possible because the water pressure on the outside and the inside will be equal.
If you are not able to roll the window down, try to break the window. They sell tools designed for this, but if you don’t have the tool, try to break the window by hitting it in the lower corner near the words that the manufacture puts on them. After the window is broken, swim out of the vehicle through the open window and to the surface.
Having a plan prior to this incident will help you keep from panicking and drowning inside your vehicle. Make sure there is a tool within reach of the driver’s seat and know how to use it so that you can break the window and escape the vehicle.
Intersection crashes are one of the most dangerous crashes that we see in Payette County. When investigating an intersection collision, we are always concerned about any possible vision obstructions that could have been a contributing factor to the collision.
There are times that we receive complaints from concerned citizens about possible vision obstructions. We take these complaints seriously and we will investigate them. If a complaint is deemed a valid violation of the Idaho State Law, we will work with the landowner and the highway district to rectify the problem. Safety is our number one concern.
Idaho’s law is very specific on what is a vision obstruction at an intersection. Idaho Code 49-221 defines traffic hazards at intersections. They goal to this law is to keep all of citizens and neighbors safe. When responding to complaints about vision obstructions, the Payette County Sheriff’s Office is focused on determining if there is a vision obstruction under the definition of the Idaho Law. We will work with the property owner to find ways to eliminate the vision obstruction and help improve safety at the intersection. Below is the Idaho law that references this issue.
49-221. REMOVAL OF TRAFFIC HAZARDS. (1) It shall be the responsibility of the owner of real property to remove from his property any hedge, shrubbery, fence, wall or other sight obstructions of any nature, except public traffic or highway signs, buildings and trees, where these sight obstructions constitute a potential traffic hazard. The above sight obstructions shall not extend more than three (3) feet, or less than ten (10) feet, in height above the existing center line highway elevation within the vision triangle of vehicle operators. The boundaries of the vision triangle are defined by measuring from the intersection of the edges of two (2) adjacent highways forty (40) feet along each highway and connecting the two (2) points with a straight line. The sight distance obstruction restriction is also applicable to railroad-highway grade crossings with vision triangle defined by measuring forty (40) feet along the railroad property line when intersecting with a highway.
(2) When the department or any local authority determines that a traffic hazard exists, it may notify the owner and order that the hazard be removed within an appropriate time as determined by the department or local authority, considering the circumstances and conditions involved. The appropriate time may be specified in the notice. Such notice shall not obligate the department or local authorities to pursue removal or abatement until all legal remedies are exhausted.
(3) The failure of the owner to remove the traffic hazard within the appropriate specified time shall constitute a misdemeanor and every day the owner shall fail to remove the obstruction may be considered a separate and distinct offense. Civil action may also be initiated by state or local officials to enforce vision triangle restrictions.
(4) Local officials may, by resolution or ordinance, establish standards and procedures for protecting vision triangles at the intersections of local streets and roads. Such locally adopted standards or procedures, which may be more or less restrictive than the provisions hereof, shall not modify the standards established by this section concerning intersections with state-maintained highways and intersections with railroads.
Every year we get questions from motorists on the Idaho Law, “Speed Too Fast for Road Conditions.” During the majority of the year, the maximum speed that you can travel on a roadway is the posted speed limit. There are certain conditions that can cause the maximum speed allowable to be reduced. These times are dependent on a condition that makes traveling on the roadway more difficult and sometimes hazardous. These conditions could be rain, snow, ice, fog, debri on the road, etc. Often times the evidence of someone who was traveling too fast for the road conditions is when they lose control of their vehicle are involved in a collision.
Drivers need to rely on the road conditions that they are observing and their past experiences to know how fast to drive. The speed that drivers decide is a safe travel speed should consider the road conditions, vehicle condition, and their driving ability.
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