Nobody plans to have a car accident but sometimes they are unavoidable. If you do get caught up in an accident it is important to try not to panic as that can only make things worse. Just aim to keep a clear head and collect as much information as you can from the scene.
Here are a few things to keep in mind every time you head out on the road:
Prevention is always better than cure
Of course you can’t always stop accidents happening, but you can greatly reduce the chances by driving defensively. Whenever you’re out on the road, drive safely and try to anticipate what everyone else will do. If you always expect other drivers to do something stupid it will come as less of a surprise when they actually do and you’ll end up with more time to take evasive action.
Leave your mobile switched off
No call or text message is so important that it’s worth crashing for – and it’s illegal. Call them back once you’ve pulled over or reached your destination, it’s what people did for decades before mobiles were invented.
If you are unlucky enough to be involved in a serious accident, the most important thing to consider is your own personal safety THEN the safety of any others involved. Don’t just jump out of your car straight away in case there are other vehicles just arriving at the accident. Once you’re sure you’re okay and there is no further threat of danger, go and see if the other driver/s are all right. If they’re in a bad way, don’t try and move them as they may be suffering from spinal injuries – just call for an ambulance.
Turn on your hazard lights
Give other drivers advance warning of your accident by turning on your hazard lights as soon as possible.
Look for witnesses
Even if your accident is relatively minor see if you can find a witness on the scene and make sure you get their name and phone number. Their testimony could help speed up your claim processing.
Call the police
Many people think the police should only be notified if it’s a major accident, whereas you should really notify them after ANY accident. Remember this if the other driver tries to convince you to not call the police and/or not file a claim. If you let them do that they can just as easily claim that the accident never happened, or that it was your fault. It’s a lot harder for them to dodge responsibility with the authorities around, so call 111 straight away and let the cool heads of the police take charge of the scene.
Swap details with the other driver(s)
Don’t get mad; just get their details. As soon as you’ve checked that everyone is okay, get the other driver’s licence plate, name, address and insurance company. Don’t get drawn into any roadside argument about liability, that’s for the police and insurance companies to sort out. You just need to get the information they’ll need to do it. Weather and / or road conditions may prove useful too.
Beware of delayed reactions
Often emotions brought about by a car accident can hit home later so even if you feel okay and your car is all right to drive, you may suffer from a delayed shock reaction. The last thing you want after a car crash is another car crash. Consider getting a friend or family member to help move your car and keep you company.
If your car is badly damaged you’ll need to organise it to be towed. Your car manufacturer or insurance company may have towing as part of your roadside assistance cover. Check your policies now.
File an insurance claim straight away
Even if you don’t want to make a claim, let your insurance company know about it anyway as you don’t know what the other driver might be saying about you.