Driver manual provides tips for accident safety

Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2002

What do you do if you're the first one on the scene of an accident with injuries? What if you hit a moose or someone's pet dog or cat?

Motorists should have answers to these questions, but often the information gets filed away much like all the specific coverage contained in one's insurance policy.

Toward the back of the Alaska Driver Manual, available at any Division of Motor Vehicles office, is a list of things to do in case of an accident.

After stopping safely and warning other traffic, to avoid additional accidents, motorists are instructed to help anyone who may be hurt.

"Do not remove an injured person unless absolutely necessary. Arrange for an ambulance if needed.

"Stop serious bleeding and keep the victim warm."

According to state statutes, people in Alaska are not held liable for rendering emergency aid.

The Civil Liability for Emer-gency Aid statute specifically states, "A person at a hospital or any other location who renders emergency care or emergency counseling to an injured, ill or emotionally distraught person who reasonably appears to the person rendering the aid to be in immediate need of emergency aid in order to avoid serious harm or death, is not liable for civil damages as a result of an act or omission in rendering emergency aid."

"There have been a number of incidents in Alaska where lives have been saved because of aid given by good Samaritans," said Greg Wilkinson, Alaska State Troopers spokesperson.

"If someone's not breathing and you have (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) training, by all means stop and help," he said, adding people shouldn't put themselves in harm's way.

Asked what someone should do if they arrive at an accident and an officer already is present, but the victim is lying there unattended, Wilkinson said, "If that is the case, it's probably only for a very short time.

"Our first order of business is to protect life. The trooper has to make sure no one else gets hurt.

"The trooper might have to first stop traffic to keep everybody safe."

With regard to accidents involving wildlife, big game animals killed or injured in a vehicular accident are the property of the state, according to the driver manual.

"The operator of a motor vehicle that collides with a big game animal resulting in death or injury of the animal is required to notify a state trooper, or a fish and wildlife officer as soon as possible."

"The motorist is not allowed to dispatch the animal," Wilkinson said. "They must wait until law enforcement arrives and (kills) the animal.

"At our dispatch centers, we have a list of individuals or (charitable) agencies that will go get the animal within a half hour," he said.

If a motorist accidentally hits someone's pet dog or cat, troopers suggest attempting to locate the pet's owner as a courtesy.

Troopers are not aware of any law requiring a person to do so, but Wilkinson said, "People should use common decency and do the right thing."

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