The interstates and other highways in Georgia are dangerous places. People who break down or are changing a tire can put themselves in grave danger.

An article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution alluded to the serious risks people who change a tire face.

Most people who get flat tires on the roads of Georgia call on AAA, the police, the HERO units operated by the Georgia Department of Transportation, or another roadside service agency.

However, some try to change a tire. This can be an intense process as it involves jacking up your car. On occasions, something goes badly wrong.

The AJC reported on 20-year-old David Wesley who tried to change a tire at 5 a.m. on the I-285/northbound ramp to I-85/northbound at the notorious Spaghetti Junction in DeKalb County. A passerby hit him as he changed his left-rear tire, killing him at the scene.

Avoid changing a tire on a freeway

Changing a tire can be a death sentence in Georgia

The driver who hit and killed Wesley stopped. Police closed the ramp for more than two hours, while they looked into the crash. Wesley’s girlfriend, Sarina Ivory said he changed his own tire previously and said he would text her when he got the tire and arrived at work safely. Sadly, he never made it to work.

We often read about tragic accidents when motorists changing tires are killed. Last year,  a 58-year-old man from Warner Robbins in Georgia was struck and killed while changing a flat tire in Florida.

The Florida Highway Patrol reported driver Gonzella Yancie parked his Toyota Sienna on the west shoulder of southbound US 231 to switch out his tire around 10:25 p.m. at night.

He was struck and killed by a Chevrolet Silverado, also driven by a driver from Georgia.

These tragedies highlight the considerable dangers of changing a tire by the side of the road. Often the driver who is changing a tire has his or her back to oncoming traffic and may not be aware of the dangers. If you do try to change a tire, aim to get your car as far away from the highway as possible, ideally in a parking lot.

Road fatalities are rising in Georgia. The GDOT attributes much of the spike to distracted driving. A driver who is looking at his or her cell phone or texting is more likely to veer across the road. There have been numerous instances of drivers plowing into the back of first responders’ vehicles. People by the road or those in broken down cars are in serious danger.

If distracted motorists are hitting first responder vehicles with flashing lights, they are even less likely to notice people changing tires.

Given the wide range of options available and the numerous breakdown services,  there is no reason anyone should stop and change their own tire on a freeway or a congested highway.

The risks are too high. You can call 911 or 511. HERO units or police officers will happily help you change a tire in a safe environment. In most cases, they will change it themselves. AAA will do the same if you are a member. Most car insurance packages include some sort of 24-hour road service assistance.

If you break down and are waiting for help, the safest place is inside the vehicle and not wandering around on the shoulder.

If you have been hurt by a distracted driver, contact us or call the Law Office of Michael West at (404) 913-1529.