Q My heart goes out to the family of the good Samaritan who was killed on Interstate 280 last weekend when he attempted to help others involved in a crash near Woodside Road. Being a paramedic, firefighter, and tow-truck driver has prepared me to know how to control an accident scene and keep myself safe.

Ray-the-Tow-Truck-Guy

A We need to heed Ray's advice, which he sent in after a 33-year-old Redwood City man pulled over to help at a crash and was struck and killed on I-280 early Sunday. He stopped his Jeep on the shoulder and tried to run across the freeway to reach victims.

Two women stand at the center divider on Highway 101 after  their car was involved in a collision. (Bay Area News Group)
Two women stand at the center divider on Highway 101 after their car was involved in a collision. (Bay Area News Group)

The Highway Patrol always recommends calling 911 instead of getting out of your car to come to the aid of crash victims. Officers know the great risks being a good Samaritan poses. Let professional emergency workers handle these dangerous situations.

But if you do stop, here are some tips.

Q First of all, you must know when you are actually needed by the victims of an accident. If you question yourself whether they need help, don't stop.

Next, how and where you stop your vehicle is imperative. At night, I'll stop about 50 feet before the crash scene with my hazards flashing and the wheels turned away from the scene. This will give you some protection from cars that may not see the scene, but may see your flashing lights. If a car comes along and collides with your car, hopefully that collision will all go the direction your cars' wheels are pointed and not collide with vehicles involved with the crash and kill you.

During the daytime, I park beyond the scene, preferably on the shoulder. Traffic on the freeway tends to come to a crawl quickly, so it is reasonably safe. And it provides an easy escape once the fire department arrives.

DO NOT FOR ANY REASON TRY TO WALK ACROSS ANY FREEWAY TO ASSIST AT AN ACCIDENT!!! Are three exclamation points enough?

Ray-the-Tow-Truck-Guy

A Yes, but go on.

Q If you have no medical training, do not move any injured people unless there is a fire or risk of imminent death. Direct pressure is best for bleeding.

Beware of any dog that is in a vehicle. They may be injured, angry and protective of their injured owners. I learned this the hard way.

Ray-the-Tow-Truck-Guy

A And onto another emergency worker.

Q Gary, a former firefighter/EMT here.

Never, never, NEVER get out of your car on a road unless your life is in imminent danger! I can't stress how dangerous it is to ever get out of your car on a road. You have absolutely no protection if someone plows into you.

Plus, if you are out of your car busy exchanging information with someone else while standing in the road, you aren't paying 100 percent attention to what might be coming up behind you, also lessening your chances of getting out of the way when something goes wrong.

John Atkins

A And ...

Q I was driving home on Interstate 880 the other day and came across one lane of traffic completely stopped. The cause of the backup was a rear-end collision involving three cars. What I saw was almost a textbook case of how not to handle an accident on the freeway:

Despite all cars clearly being drivable, all three remained stopped in the middle lane as traffic swerved around them.

All three occupants were out of their cars inspecting damage, despite being in a traffic lane and 2 to 3 feet from cars speeding by at 50-60 mph. Several occupants were standing between their cars. Had there been another collision, anyone standing between the cars could have very well been crushed.

I know you cover this occasionally, but I think it may be time for a refresher for your readers on how to respond to a noninjury accident on the freeway.

Ken Willson

A I've said this so many times. If your car can be driven, move safely to the shoulder or off the freeway to exchange information. If you get out of your car on the shoulder, stay on the side away from traffic.

If your car isn't drivable, never get out unless your life would be in more danger if you didn't. Your car is designed to protect you in a collision. Your body is not.

Follow Gary Richards at Twitter.com/mrroadshow, look for him at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow or contact him at mrroadshow@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5335.