HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A flat tire, stall, or even a minor wreck can instantly go from inconvenient to tragic on Houston area roadways. What you do in the moments following the incident can make the difference in whether you make it home.
With five million registered vehicles in the Houston TranStar service area, the goal is to keep traffic moving, but secondary wrecks are a serious problem in our area. According to Houston TranStar, "For every minute a motorist has stopped on a freeway, the risk of being seriously injured or killed increases dramatically, and the chance of a secondary crash increases by nearly 3%."
The Tow and Go Program, managed by the Houston-Galveston Area Council, offers free towing to a nearby safe location. Eyewitness News took a ride with David Fink, who oversees the work.
"The longer you're out there, the chances of you getting struck go up tremendously," Fink said. "People on the cell phone, there may also, a large truck may be in front of you, and they don't see you when that truck clears."
Fink went over some of the most important safety tips for drivers.
Pull off the road
Don't try to check on your car until you're safely on a right shoulder, but preferably off the road altogether.
Stay in your vehicle
Turn on your hazard lights, lock your doors, and keep your seat belt on. If another driver strikes your stalled car, it could minimize your injuries. Fink says your chance of survival increases tremendously by keeping your seat belt on.
If you've pulled to the right shoulder, exit on the passenger side, always facing traffic. If there is a barrier wall, climb over the barrier wall because that's another layer of protection.
Call for help
The Tow and Go Program provides a free tow to a safe location. It serves most highways in Harris county. You can save the number in your cell phone: 713-881-3333. The Harris County Toll Road Authority has the Motorist Assistance Program which also provides free assistance 281-584-7500. The number is also on the back of your EZ-TAG.