One of the scariest things for drivers is getting into an accident. Whether the accident is due to a bad or distracted driver, inclement weather conditions, or just plain old bad luck, here's how you handle it.
6 Steps to Follow After a Car Accident
It's hard not to panic when you get into a car accident. The most important thing is to remain calm once you get over your initial adrenaline rush. Follow these six steps to get you through the aftermath of the accident.
1. Make Sure Everyone is Safe
The first and most important thing to do after an accident is to make sure you and your passengers are safe. Start by assessing your own health followed by your passengers. If you discover that anyone is seriously injured, call 911 immediately. Don't remove anyone who is seriously injured from the car, in case they injured their spine.
2. Pull Off of the Road
Assuming that everyone is safe, the next step is to pull your car off the road — as long as it's driveable. Try to park on the shoulder or in a nearby parking lot. If your car is too damaged to drive, walk a safe distance away from your car, especially if you're on the highway. If the accident happened at night, set up roadside reflectors or flares from your emergency kit to alert other drivers.
3. Alert the Authorities
Some states require you to call the police after an accident. Some require it for any accident, while others require a certain amount of damage to occur. States also vary between calling from the scene and for up to 30 days after. However, we recommend calling right away so officers can document the accident — this is helpful when it comes to filing an insurance claim. They'll also have to get a cleanup crew to the accident site if it was bad.
4. Exchange Information with Other Drivers
Everyone involved in the accident needs to exchange the following information:
Full name, address, phone number, and email address
Driver's license number
Make, model, color, and license plate number
Insurance company name and policy number
It doesn't hurt to have an accident report form in your glovebox, just so you don't forget any details.
5. Document Everything about the Accident
Now that just about everyone owns a cell phone, it makes instantly documenting an accident so much easier. First, take as many pictures as you need of the damage that occurred to all of the vehicles in the accident. Second, when the police officers arrive, request a copy of the police report and take down their badge numbers and names. Finally, if there were any witnesses, get their names and phone numbers in case you need them for insurance purposes.
6. Get Ahold of Your Insurance Company
Once you return home after the accident and calm down, get ahold of your insurance company. You'll need to file a claim to fix any damage that happened in the accident. They'll need all of the information you recorded at the scene including pictures, police reports, the damage that occurred, and the names of any witnesses.
Avoid an Accident with Defensive Driving
Now that you know what to do if you ever get into an accident, you can only hope that you'll never have to use it. One way to increase your odds of avoiding an accident is by taking a defensive driving course at IDriveSafely.com. You'll learn techniques to keep yourself safe on the road through online lessons.