When winter weather turned bad suddenly, I would often find my shift (as a police officer) was a busy one, driving from vehicle to vehicle in the ditch at the side of the road.
Of course, we were obligated to check collisions and insure no one was hurt, but in this situation manpower often did not match the number of incidents reported. The situation was made worse by repeated reports of the same vehicle with a different description and location.
In 2008, the province implemented a solution to this issue. Once police, fire, ambulance or road maintenance workers check a vehicle and find it is abandoned and no aid is needed, they flag it as having been checked with tape. The tape is tied to the vehicle on the side closest to the highway.
So, if you come across a vehicle in the ditch on the side of the highway, please be alert for this bright yellow tape. If it is present and attached to the vehicle, there is no need to notify police. Someone has already been there and they don't need to visit again. If not, you may choose to stop and help.
I often wished people would stop and check before they grabbed their cell phones and reported a crashed vehicle. If the situation was serious, the appropriate support could be arranged, but if the vehicle was empty and no one was around, we could assign a lower priority and check on others first.
Along with these details, an accurate location for the collision can be critical.
If you do stop to help, your first responsibility is to yourself.
• Stop as far out of harm's way as possible and do what you can to alert approaching traffic.
• Assess the scene and use caution as you approach. Provide appropriate assistance within your capabilities.
• Consider re-contacting police with a follow-up report of what you found.
• Stay until first responders arrive and you can tell them about what you found.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.