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Ask a Trooper: Who cleans up after a crash?

Q: Who is responsible for making sure the roadway is cleaned up and free from spilled liquids, glass and other car parts from a crash?  

A: In my experience I have noticed that all responding agencies and tow companies work as a team to treat the injured, direct traffic, investigate the crash and clear the scene as soon as possible for everyone’s safety. This is especially important on roadways with higher speed limits.

Below, I included a general list of the responsibilities at a crash scene. Each scene varies as to what level of crash it is and what is needed.

Law enforcement general responsibilities:

  • Securing the incident scene
  • Assist disabled vehicles
  • Provide medical aid until help arrives
  • Serve as incident commander along with Fire/Rescue
  • Direct traffic
  • Conduct crash investigation
  • Supervise scene clearance

Fire/Rescue/EMS general responsibilities:

  • Protect the incident scene
  • Provide medical care
  • Provide initial HAZMAT response and containment
  • Suppress fire
  • Rescue crash victims from vehicles
  • Arrange transportation for the injured
  • Provide advance emergency medical care
  • Determine destination and transportation for the injured
  • Coordinate evacuation with fire, police and ambulance/airlift
  • Remove medical waste from scene
  • Assist in incident clearance

Towing companies general responsibilities:

  • Removing vehicles from scene
  • Protecting victims’ property and vehicles
  • Provide transportation for uninjured vehicle occupants
  • Remove debris from roadway (scene)

Most vehicle debris that remains on the roadway are from vehicles that crash and are able to drive away without calling law enforcement.

Reminder to move over and slow down for all vehicles with flashing lights.

Send your questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota to trooper@duluthnews.com or Sgt. Neil Dickenson – Minnesota State Patrol at 1131 Mesaba Ave., Duluth, MN 55811. You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NE or reach him at neil.dickenson@state.mn.us.