GREGG COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Traffic was at a standstill for several hours on I-20 because of wrecks on Tuesday.
One involved several vehicles and two 18-wheelers just east of the Highway 31 exit in the west bound lane. But before one wreck was cleared, there would be another, leading to a series of traffic jams that were so bad emergency workers had a hard time getting to the scene to help.
We spoke with a Longview fire marshal about what drivers should do to help first responders get to a scene so they can clear it and get traffic moving again.
Most of us have experienced being parked on the interstate. It is frustrating because we're all trying to get somewhere. Some people seem to be more impatient than others and try to find a way out.
Longview Fire Marshal Kevin May has had his fair share of emergency responses in his career, and he has some advice for drivers.
"Try to stay off the shoulders, that way emergency vehicles can get by. They may be coming to the left, they may be coming to the right, it will just kind of dictate where they're trying to get to and the best access," May said.
"They're down there in that traffic and I don't know when they'll be back," squawked the scanner.
So if the shoulder isn't clear, responders may get trapped in traffic, and there may not be enough room between cars for people to pull up and let them squeeze by.
"Leave some room in front of you in case they need to go from one side to the other, then they've got clear passage to do that," May stated.
May says always be observant, and if you see traffic slowing, think ahead.
"If you're familiar with the roadways, you may very well be able to pick an alternate route," May said.
But if you try to change lanes to get ahead and cause a fender bender:
"You're probably going to be a low priority to what's already taking place, and it's going to be awhile until anybody gets to you," May pointed out.
Which, of course, will cause more delays. And doing a u-turn in a median may not be the best choice either.
"Maybe the person in front of you made it, but there's no guarantee that you will," May stated.
It seems obvious, but May says if the weather is bad, everyone should let off the gas and leave plenty of space between you and the person ahead of you.
"So everybody just kind of needs to slow down," May advised.
Then maybe the wreck wouldn't have happened in the first place.
Check your tires and gauges, too, May suggested.
"Make sure your tires are properly inflated on your vehicle. Keep your vehicle gassed up," he added.
That's a good point. The last thing you want to be in on "E" in the middle of three miles of parked cars.
May says bottom line is to be patient and don't try to go around people to cut in line. He says it certainly isn't going to going to speed anything up, and it might just make it worse.