RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - An early morning crash created traffic troubles for hours, but state police say the real tragedy here is this accident likely could have been prevented.
By dawn's light -- and before rush hour -- the crash was clear. But the tragedy and an important safety message remains.
"On the interstate in particular, but anywhere, safety is foremost for everybody," said Sgt. Thomas Molnar with the Virginia State Police says if you get a flat tire:
1) don't panic.
2) turn on your hazard lights
3) do not stop in the middle of the Interstate and get out of your car.
"Continue driving on your rim at a safe speed and pull of the shoulder of the road in a safe location, if you can't pull off on the shoulder, work to find a safe place to stop," he added.
Sgt. Molnar says unfortunately this is a common problem on the interstates in downtown Richmond.
"In this area, especially on the James River Bridge, which does not have a shoulder to pull off on, we've had continuous issues with people either running out of gas or like in this case, getting a flat tire on the bridge," he said.
State police say that from January 2008 to now, there's been nearly 300 reports of disabled vehicles on the James River Bridge.
If you do run out of gas -- it's a little harder because your car won't move.
State police say if that happens -- turn on your hazard lights right away -- and then you'll have to assess your surroundings as to whether it's safe to get out of your car.
The safest plan police say is to make sure you don't get in that situation in the first place.
"With the gas gauge in your vehicle, pay attention to the gas gauge, and plan your trip accordingly," Molnar said.
Three other people were injured in this crash -- the two survivors of the stopped car suffered minor injuries. The driver of the other car suffered serious injuries, but will live.