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'Steer-it Clear-it' aims to reduce delays

BUFFALO -- It took the average driver 9 minutes to clear a car from the road after a minor accident on a local highway during the last year. It took another 18 minutes for traffic to get back to normal.

Those can be dangerous delays. 

"When you're out there and you're investigating a minor accident, there's nothing worse than hearing that sound of another fender bender, a rubber necker, causing an accident," said New York State Police Capt. Michael P. Nigrelli.

Officials this morning unveiled a new campaign aimed at educating drivers to quickly move their vehicles from the road after a minor accident. 

The "Steer-it Clear-it" safety awareness campaign asks drivers to take three steps when in an accident: check to make sure people in both cars are OK; see if your car can be driven. If so, officials urge people to move to a safe area such as a nearby road, cross street or parking area.  

"As you might imagine, the quicker we can clear those out, the less impact there is, the less of an opportunity there is for traffic, the less opportunity there is for collisions, and the safer working environment it is both for the traveling public and for the emergency responders," said Tom George, executive director for the Niagara International Transportation Technology Coalition. 

George said there have been more than 20 "secondary accidents" since January that occurred when traffic backed up because of a crash. 

The campaign will be visible on electronic signs on regional highways and will be broadcast on the area's highway advisory radio.

Officials said people often wrongly believe they have to leave their cars in place after an accident.

Hear George describe "Steer-it Clear-it" in this audio clip from a news conference this morning at NITTEC's traffic operations center control room.

--Denise Jewell Gee

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