The Causeway Bridge is the second-longest bridge over water in the world, spanning 24 miles across Lake Pontchartrain from Metairie (which is of course part of the Greater New Orleans metro area) to Mandeville on the Northshore. An estimated twelve million vehicles use the bridge annually, and unfortunately, not all of them make it across safely. In 2015 there were 2,000 breakdowns and 178 traffic accidents on the Causeway. What’s worse, neither span of the Causeway has a shoulder onto which a disabled vehicle can pull over, so it’s not surprising that 65 of the 178 accidents in 2015 were rear-ends into disabled vehicles within two minutes of a breakdown. Further, 18 vehicles have gone over the rails and crashed into the lake since 1994.
What can you do to avoid becoming a Causeway statistic?
We’ve got a few tips:
Keep your eyes on the road! You know there’s no shoulder, so watch for stalled vehicles ahead of you.
Don’t tailgate or go over the speed limit. Causeway traffic fines are steep for speeding and tailgating, and perhaps rightly so, since these irresponsible actions endanger people and take lives every year.
Avoid distractions: No texting of course, and don’t fiddle with phone or dashboard controls while driving; make sure your radio, AC/heat and other settings are how you want them before you enter onto the bridge.
Don’t enter the bridge if your car is having problems! This is not the place to break down. Also make sure your defroster, windshield wipers, and all headlights and taillights are working before you enter the bridge.
If you’re having trouble, try to get to a crossover. There are seven crossovers on each span of the Causeway, spaced approximately 3.5 miles apart. If you can pull your vehicle into the crossover, you’ll be safely out of the flow of traffic and can use the call box to call for help.
Can’t make it to a crossover? Here’s the protocol: Pull all the way over to the right curb, activate your hazard lights, exit to the rear of the vehicle (keep yourself between your stalled vehicle and oncoming traffic so in case a car hits your car, you won’t be in its path) and stand on the right side curb, where you can use hand signals to wave oncoming traffic into the left lane. Walk to the nearest call box, pull the white handle down, and push the red button. You can also call toll free on your cell phone by dialing *CP (*27). Continue waving traffic into the left lane until the police arrive. Taking these steps will help avoid a subsequent rear-end accident.
Follow police safety procedures in bad weather. When fog is heavy on the bridge, all cars must travel in a single line in the right lane and may not pass other vehicles. Turn on your headlights, but not your brights or emergency lights. Stay close enough to the vehicle in front of you to see its taillights, but avoid following too closely. In case of a breakdown during fog protocol, do not stop in the right lane. Instead, attempt to make it to a crossover, or pull over into the left lane, which will be closed, and get as close to the left railing as you can. Exit the vehicle to the rear and alert approaching vehicles until the police arrive.
Know conditions on the Causeway before you cross. Check the Causeway Commission website alerts for accidents, fog, or scheduled maintenance.
Our attorneys are accident specialists who can help if you’ve been in an accident on the Causeway or anywhere else. If you have questions, contact a Morris Bart attorney today for a FREE consultation about your potential case. We serve clients in our offices in New Orleans and throughout Louisiana as well as in Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas.