Guide To Car Safety
Driving Tips: What To Do After A Car Accident
Being involved in a car accident, even a minor fender bender, can be a nerve-wracking experience that can make it hard to think straight. We spoke with Dr. Bill Van Tassel, manager of driving training at AAA, which is the largest provider of driver's education programs in the U.S., to distill it down into five easy steps.
1. Get Off The Road
Unless there is a law requiring you to leave your car where it is until the police arrive, it's safest for everyone to move your car aside so the traffic flow is not obstructed. If it's not possible to move your car, then leave your vehicle if you are not injured and can safely walk to a location away from traffic. "In situations where it's not safe to leave your car, such as if you are on the highway, it's best for all occupants to remain seat belted until help arrives," said Van Tassel. Using your car's hazard flashers, flares or a reflective triangle can help alert oncoming drivers of the problem.
2. Assess Injuries
Ask all the people involved in the accident if they are injured. If you have any concerns about someone involved, even if that person doesn't appear to be injured, call 911. Make anyone who is injured comfortable without moving them unless you have first aid training or if their location puts them at greater risk of additional injuries.
3. Take Pictures
Once it's safe, take pictures, even with a cell phone camera, to document the accident. Be sure to capture any visible damage to your car and other cars involved, as well as photos that will help you explain how the accident occurred to the police and insurance company.
4. Take Notes
While exchanging each driver's personal and insurance information is a given, Van Tassel notes that it's also useful to notes the weather, road conditions, the time of day, nearest cross-street or highway exit and the names and contact information of any witnesses.
5. Get Thorough Information
When you exchange information with the other driver involved, it's best to copy that info down yourself. Use the person's driver's license to obtain his name, address, date of birth and driver's license number. Use his insurance card to note the insurance company, policy number, policy expiration, agent's contact info and the year, make model, license plate and VIN of the car. According to Van Tassel, it's best to compare the info on the insurance card to the car itself and carefully note any differences.