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Police advise motorists to "stay in your car"


WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) -- The winter weather has led to several crashes, and some, like the Germantown crash Sunday, involved many vehicles. People often get out of their vehicles after a crash, which is a bad idea.

Wisconsin State Patrol advises motorists to stay inside their vehicles if at all possible after crashing or sliding off the road.

Sergeant Rich Reichenberger says when you are outside of the vehicle, you have no protection from other hazards. “When the vehicle is sliding, and stuff like that where they can slide into your vehicle, you definitely don’t want to be outside. We see that quite often where we pull up on crashes.”

While staying inside the car, leave your seat belt on. Reichenberger says the side of the road is a very dangerous place. His squad car has even been hit by a vehicle while he’s at a traffic scene. “A lot of troopers have been hit. I’ve been hit, where I’ve been sitting at a crash scene, so I do put my seatbelt on and leave it on when I’m inside the car.”

If you are waiting for a tow truck, or if the tow truck has arrived, you shouldn’t stay outside to watch. Reichenberger says listen to the tow truck driver and get inside his vehicle where it’s safer. “They wear their reflective jackets, and even sometimes wear the reflective pants and stuff. They’re used to watching for traffic as they hook it up, but definitely, I would have a seat inside the tow truck and wait. Let them do their job and what they get paid to do rather than standing out there and watching, because basically, you have the potential to get injured while you’re out there.”

Reichenberger says it is important to slow down and leave more distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. More winter driving suggestions can be found at the Department of Transportation website.