When an incident occurs on a freeway or expressway it immediately
creates a dangerous situation. Wisconsin's incident clearance law
provides safer conditions for individuals involved in collisions and
improves the ability of law enforcement and other response agencies
to quickly manage and clear incidents.
One of the key factors hindering fast cleanup of incidents is the
potential for loss or damage to vehicles, crash debris, or other
obstructions caused by the removal from an incident scene. Crash
debris most often consists of vehicles and spilled cargo that create
dangerous conditions on the freeway system.
The state's incident
clearance law grants immunity from civil damages to any person who
removes or stores a disabled vehicle, crash debris or other
obstructions, unless the conduct is willful, reckless or
The incident clearance law also increases the authority of
traffic officers to remove or order the removal of disabled vehicles
from freeways or expressways.
The removal may be performed by the
traffic officer or may be contracted by the local authorities such
as a tow operator. If a third party removes the vehicle it is the
responsibility of the operator or vehicle owner to pay the charges
incurred for removal/towing or any storage.
In addition, the incident clearance law requires individuals
involved in incidents with their vehicles to stop without
obstructing traffic more than necessary. This provision seeks to
prevent the occurrence of secondary crashes by the careless
positioning of vehicles after incidents.
The incident clearance law aids law enforcement and other
response agencies to quickly clear vehicles, crash debris, spilled
materials and other obstructions from the freeway. It also provides
safer conditions and allows the traffic flow to quickly return to
Steps to the safe and quick clearance of incidents
Typical incidents include: stalled vehicles, major/minor crashes,
overturned vehicles or a spilled load. Action required in the
event of an incident:
Check for injuries. Notify the nearest police station,
sheriff's office, state trooper or EMS immediately if anyone is
injured or killed.
If there are no injuries, check your vehicle. If you can steer
it - clear it. This means if you are blocking traffic and your
vehicle can still be driven, act responsibly to move your
vehicle out of the way. This can be done before exchanging
information with other vehicles involved in the crash.
When an incident occurs on a freeway you must move your
vehicle as soon as possible. Designated crash investigation
sites provide safe areas to exchange information and handle
Warn oncoming traffic of the incident or hazard to prevent
secondary crashes. Some common warning practices include raising
the hood of the vehicle and using flares. In order to let
motorists know you need assistance, tie a white handkerchief to
the door of the vehicle, wave a red flag or use a flashlight.
Remember, if you are waiting for assistance, be patient. Crossing
a roadway or attempting to stop traffic can be dangerous.
When involved in an incident, remember to exchange the following
information with the person involved:
Give your name, address, telephone number, vehicle
identification number, vehicle license plate number, vehicle
description, insurance information (policy number and expiration
date) and drivers license number to the person involved in the
Obtain the same information from the person involved and the
names, addresses and telephone numbers of any witnesses.