Fender bender: Pull off road or stay till PD arrive?

Today, during my commute home, I saw a common sight causing a common annoyance: A car had rear-ended another and the drivers were in their vehicles apparently waiting for the police to arrive. Problem is, they were in the only available turn lane and causing a half mile of delay in all lanes during rush hour.

In this case, should one remain in the roadway for the police to arrive? Or should the drivers move to a nearby parking lot out of traffic? Assume no injuries, cars drivable, minor damage, cooperative parties, etc. I suppose the reasoning to stay is that police may be better able to reconstruct the accident scene but I’m not sure if this even happens. Does the nature of the collision matter? (such as rear-end vs bumper>fender) How about if its on an interstate? Certainly, this stuff causes hours of delay for uninvolved parties.

It may vary from state to state.

In my state, it is widely believed that you have to stay put no matter how minor the accident. This is in fact quite wrong.

So the state has been putting up signs and the traffic reporters remind people. The section of state law is quoted etc. If the vehicles can be safely moved and no one is hurt, the vehicles must be moved.

Guess what happens when people get into a fender bender, c’mon, guess.

As I understand it, for a minor accident w/o injury and the cars are still opperational - get the ---- out of the road.

I don’t know about other states, but in Texas, it is the same as ftg posted. In a non-injury accident, move the cars out of traffic if possible and wait for police.

I don’t know the rules but from my recent experience, I’d recommend to stay put until the police arrive. Exceptions: if it’s without a doubt one driver’s fault and you have several witnesses.
My car wreck experience from July 4th: (I’ll try to keep it short.)

We were driving in the left lane. A Chevy truck was in the right lane a little ways ahead. The Chevy made a left turn across our lane and there was not enough time for us to stop.
Our Rx-7 collided with the truck, went up on two wheels and landed on the other side of the road. After the initial shakeup and viewing the damage, we pulled into a parking lot.
Chevy-guy says that we came into his lane and hit him. Of course, we disagree. I don’t think the officer quite understood what occurred and he labeled the accident as inconclusive.
I think it would’ve been evident that it was Chevy-guy’s fault if we’d stayed where we landed.
This past Monday, Chevy-guy’s insurance called to tell me that they’re taking full liability for the wreck. So after a few weeks of worries, the truth comes to light. Woohoo! *

Where I’m at, if there was no injury, the police will not even show up. So get the cars off the road and stock obstructing traffic.

Recently saw a minor fender-bender accident, with no injuries, on a major road at rush hour. The drivers had pulled off to the side in the parking lane. But the the Minneapolis Police had come along, and instead of pulling up behind them, they had parked their cruiser alongside, out in one of the traffic lanes, slightly sticking out into the other driving lane, with the the red lights flashing. There was traffic backed up for over a mile, not because of the accident, or the drivers involved, but because of the damn fools in the police department!

Where I am (Alberta, Canada) you get off the road if the vehicles are movable. Unless there’s some serious injuries or death there will not be a collision analyst coming, and your general duty cop isn’t qualified to say what happened by looking at the aftermath. People are actually pretty good about doing this, here.

Here police do not assign blame in accidents, insurance companies do. Police will decide if any laws were broken and issue tickets (or criminal charges, if necessary), but they’re not going to say “Chevy-guy, you caused the accident, your insurance has to pay.” Well, they might, but the insurance company doesn’t have to listen to them.

In Ontario, you get off the damn road.

Colorado is the same way.

I’d suggest carrying a camera in the car and, if at all possible, snap a few shots of the scene and the vehicles before moving them. It might help you if there is a dispute later, or if someone decides that they developed whiplash the next day. I’ve got a disposable camera in my glove box and I replace it periodically. Most states have a dollar value cutoff for reporting it to authorities (state DOT) and/or the requirement that police be called if bodily injuries are involved.

Thanks for the great replies, all. For once, common sense prevails!

Late “me too”: Metro Cleveland has these signs alongside the major freeways. (I think they have been put up throughout all the major cities of Ohio, but I haven’t been out in the hinterlands recently.)

In CA, unless an ambulance/paramedics have to be called and if the cars are driveable- then get off the damn road for your sake, if not everyone elses. Not getting your car out of the way is a good way to get into a huge pile up and turn a fender bender into a highway fatality. Make sure you note the other cars license number, make sure they know what you’re doing (Stay in the freaken car, though, use hand signals) and pull off- then over.

Once off the road, do not admit guilt or argue fault. Get their info, give yours. If they have no insurance* or if there is a possibility drugs or booze is involved, or if it seems like the whole thing is a scam- call the police. Otherwise, no.

Don’t worry about “well, if the officer can see the scene with the cars still in place then they’d see it wasn’t my fault”. As:

  1. It’s too fucking dangerous to stay there, the deductable on your collision insurance isn’t worth more than your life.

  2. The Police may or may not come, and may or may not see it your way. At worst, you’re out your deductable.

  3. It is not the job of the Police to settle Civil matters, which a minor accident surely is. You calling them could cause a slower response to a *real *emergecy. In other words, your worry about $200 could cost someone else their life.

  4. It pisses off your fellow motorists and cause traffic jams. This last is pretty minor, so let’s worry about #1, 2, & 3.

*OK, if the damage is so minor you’d be willing to skip it, then do whatever.

No. Do **NOT **get out of your car. If you can snap a shot while still in, fine. Once off the road, snap away. You don’t care if the other guy claims whiplash, that’s the job of your insurance co, which knows more about insurance fraud then any of us know. Yes, do gather info and co-operate fully.

Stay in the car.

Here in Texas, it’s the law. You can get a ticket if you don’t move your butts off the roadway. And I might give you the bird too.

I’m going to assume that most Dopers are intelligent enough to comprehend “if at all possible”. Fender benders do not usually occur in the midst of clear traffic where vehicles are going 60-70+ mph.
In most cases it will probably be sufficient to exchange basic ifo., but I think it’s wise to get as much other info. as possible. Pics might give you information that you didn’t think of in the stress of the situation, such as make/model of vehicles, plate numbers (including those of witnesses), extent of damages, identity of people involved, weather conditions, traffic conditions, type and condition of pavement, etc., etc. People often lie, especially when they think it’s their word against yours. Even if you take photos after moving off the roadway, they can still be very valuable.

One of the few instances where it makes sense to have a camera phone.