Staying Safe on the Side of the Highway

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

LACKAWANNA COUNTY -- What happened on Interstate 81 South in Lackawanna County Tuesday afternoon is a worst case scenario, one that tow truck drivers such as Andrew Fazio are always trying to avoid.

"I tell people if they get a flat tire, instead of sitting on the passing lane or on the side of the highway, drive it right off the rim if you have to, just get off the highway. It's too dangerous out there," Fazio, who is part owner of Andy's Towing in Dunmore, told Newswatch 16.

Three men from New York state were in a very dangerous situation when their tire popped near the Fleetville exit.  One man was killed and another was injured when a pickup truck and trailer hit them and kept going.

Fazio said he tells clients to never step out of the car.

"My best suggestion is to stay in the car, with your seat belt on, call the police, and wait until the proper help gets out there," he added.

Towers have lights and protective equipment meant to slow oncoming traffic. Police departments in our area also say you can call them. If officers are available, they can close down a lane of traffic.

"Be aware of the other guy. Expect the unexpected. Leave cushion, and all accidents are caused by a lack of space. You want to leave as much space around the car and around yourself as you can," said Gino Tempesta of Tempesta Driving School.

Tempesta has been teaching driving skills for 35 years. He told Newswatch 16 that what happened this week on Interstate 81 will be a teachable moment for his students.

If police protection or roadside assistance are not options, experts say it's worth the damage to your car to get to a safer spot.

"It will ruin your rim, but it's still better than to ruin your life. If you had to go an extra 20 feet to really get further off the road, you're better off," Tempesta said.

State police are still looking for the driver involved in that hit and run.  Troopers said the vehicle was a light-colored pickup truck carrying a red trailer with three or four cars on it. Anyone with information is asked to call state police in Dunmore at 570-963-3156.