One of the scariest and most dangerous things that can happen on the road is being in an auto accident. It is important, for the safety of you and others, to know how to respond and what steps to take in that unfortunate event. This article will help keep you safe and prepared, by outlining what to do if you are in an auto accident.
If you are in a major accident, dial 911 immediately and remain seated and as calm as possible. Police and fire professionals receive continuous training to respond appropriately to accidents, and can best assist you in one of your greatest times of need.
Pull Over – It’s The Law
If you are in a minor auto accident, or a “fender bender”, you need to pull over. The laws in many states require any driver involved in an auto accident to stop their vehicle. If you do not, you can be charged with a “hit and run” or leaving the scene of an accident – even if you are not at fault, or if nobody was hurt. Stop your vehicle or pull to the median or breakdown lane; then turn your vehicle’s engine off and put your hazard lights on if possible.
Assess The Situation
If you are experiencing any bleeding, pain, or lightheadedness, be sure to move as little as possible as this could exacerbate any injuries you may have. If you do not have any injuries, carefully survey the scene of the accident to see if others are injured. If so, follow basic first aid protocol (if you know how) and dial 911 for help. Even if you suspect that a person’s injuries – or even yours – are minor, it is important to seek the professional assistance of an EMT to help treat you. Make sure that nobody at the accident scene is in any danger, including yourself.
Police Reports and Paperwork
If you are in an auto accident, albeit minor, it still merits a call to the police. Having a police officer at the scene can help in many ways, including with filling out paperwork, your insurance, directing traffic, and simply keeping the peace and acting as an observer. Filing a police report can serve as official documentation that you were in an auto accident, and can help determine fault.
Even if you are following the law, some other motorists may not want to stay at the scene of the accident, for various reasons. In order to protect yourself, you should gather as many facts as possible to report to the police and your auto insurer. Try to get the other driver’s name and contact information. Write down the make and model of their car, and license plate number. If the other driver is cooperative, get detailed information including the VIN number, the other driver’s insurance information, and vehicle registration information. In order to file an auto accident insurance claim, you will need to provide the above information. Calling the police and filing a police report will assist you with this as they will collect the information for you.
Preparing For The Worst
Although some accidents are never your fault, and often seem inevitable, there are some key precautions you can take to help prevent them, and to ensure maximum safety and security should an auto accident take place. First, never drink and drive, and do not drive recklessly. Do routine safety checks to see that your car is not in hazardous condition (e.g. check tire pressure, condition of brake lines). Install and properly secure car seats to protect your children – or ensure that they buckle up. Keep your personal and medical information in your wallet, should you require serious medical attention. Have your vehicle’s paperwork in your glove box as well. These steps take little time and can help assist you and medical or safety professionals in the event that you are in an auto accident.