Car Accident Etiquette 101: What to Do After a Crash

No driver wants to find themselves in a position where they are involved in an accident while on the road, but the unfortunate fact of driving is that it can happen at any time. As a driver, you can only control your own actions and not those of others, which is why reminding yourself what to do in the event a car accident occurs is so important.

Photo by Taras Makarenko on Pexels

How Common Are Car Accidents?

It may not be a pleasant thought but looking at the rate of car accidents around the world puts into perspective how important knowing what to do in the event of one is. Around 1.35 million people are killed annually in roadway accidents, according to the CDC, meaning nearly 3,700 lives are lost daily.

Considering the fact that around 0.7% of car accidents result in fatalities, this means there are an average of nearly 200 million roadway accidents on a yearly basis, or half a million per day.

7 Steps to Follow After a Car Accident

While hearing just how common car accidents are can certainly be jarring, it’s important to remember that the vast majority don’t result in fatalities. With that said, even the smallest of accidents can be dangerous and traumatizing, which is why knowing how to respond when one occurs is so important.

The following seven tips can ensure that any driver handles the situation gracefully:

1. Inspect yourself and others for injury

First and foremost, when a car accident occurs you should check yourself and any other passengers in your vehicle for injuries. Be aware that the shock of the accident itself may make you feel as if you are alright, but there may be a hidden injury.

Therefore, give yourself a once over visually rather than gauging by how you feel alone. In a severe car accident, it’s generally advisable that you don’t move until emergency services can get there, as this may cause negative repercussions.

2. Pull your vehicle to the side of the road if you are able to

Assuming the crash was relatively light and your car is still operational, try to get it to the shoulder of the road as quickly as possible.

The last thing you want to do is accidentally cause another accident because drivers coming up to the accident site have to slam on their brakes or quickly move out of the way. This will also make it safe to handle the rest of the steps on this list.

3. Exchange contact information with the other driver(s)

With no injuries accounted for and the vehicles out of the road now is the time to chat with the other driver(s) involved in the accident. Be as amicable as possible, rather than acting with frustration or anger, and simply give them your driver’s license along with taking a photo of theirs.

If they are not comfortable with sharing this, then simply ask for the driver’s license number and their phone number (which you should verify on the spot).

4. Exchange insurance information with the other driver(s)

After exchanging contact information, take the time to also exchange your insurance information. It’s best to simply take a photo of their insurance card so that you have it on file and can match it to their contact information.

5. Take photos of any and all damage

Once all information has been shared with the other person, it’s time to take photos of the vehicles that have been involved in the accident.

Common mistakes made by people at this point include not taking photos if they don’t notice any damage, and not photographing the entirety of a vehicle. Both of these should be done to avoid any potential fraud situations.

6. Contact the authorities if necessary

While calling the cops when a car accident occurs isn’t always necessary, there are certain situations where it is required. These requirements vary from state to state but the most common include if someone dies, if someone is injured, or if the property damage exceeds a certain amount.

7. Report the accident to your insurance company

Finally, once you get home after the car accident it’s important to contact your insurance company to let them know what occurred. The insurance companies will communicate with one another, but they have no way of knowing if a crash happened if they are not informed.

Preventing a Car Accident: Quick Tips to Keep in Mind

All of the above tips can help keep a person safe and level-headed after a car accident occurs. However, the best way to stay safe is to prevent a car accident from occurring in the first place. The most beneficial tips for going about this include:

  • Follow the 3-4 second rule: Always aim to leave at least three to four seconds of space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. Gauge this by finding a landmark on the road and start counting when the vehicle in front passes that point.
  • Follow the 12-second rule: Always try to scan the road at least twelve seconds ahead of your vehicle in order to spot any hazards that may be in the roadway.
  • Avoid driving in unfamiliar weather conditions: Driving in weather you haven’t practiced can quickly lead to poor decisions, so always try to stay in whether you’re familiar with it.
  • Get enough sleep before getting behind the wheel: Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving in certain situations, which is why ensuring you have slept enough is important.
Photo by C Joyful on Unsplash

Stay safe on the road today

Always remember to keep a cool head and remain as calm as possible after a car accident occurs. In the majority of situations, the accident wasn’t intentional regardless of who was at fault. Simply assess for injuries right off the bat to determine if emergency services are needed, and then politely take care of business by exchanging information.

If necessary, reach out to an accredited personal injury lawyer should you believe your case warrants a personal injury lawsuit.

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