Tennessee Transportation Commissioner John Schroer and Tennessee Safety Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons recently announced new rules that will help clear local highways quickly after car accidents. The rules follow a December traffic accident in which hundreds of motorists were stranded overnight after a potato truck crashed on I-40 in Wilson.
The new rules call for an assessment of a car accident situation every 30 minutes with an ultimate goal of clearing wrecks in under 90 minutes to reopen highways. There are of course times when clearing a wreck that quickly is not possible or not feasible. An example is the recent pileup near Nashville which involved dozen of cars.
A hastily cleaned up wreck may also not allow for adequate investigation in the cause of an accident. Although drugs or alcohol may not have played a role in a particular crash, the exact cause of a crash is often important in personal injury litigation that arises after a crash. Injured motorists may be able to obtain more compensation if they can show that another driver was behaving recklessly before the crash happened.
There are also times when drivers who cause accidents will have versions of the events leading up to a crash which are inconsistent with the physical evidence present at a crash site. A hastily cleared crash site may obliterate that evidence and make it harder for the victims of a traffic accident to obtain the compensation that they deserve. It is unclear what measures will be put in place to ensure that the new rules do not impede the evidence collection process which is vital to personal injury cases.
Source: The Associated Press, "New rules to quickly clear TN crashes," Feb. 18, 2012