No matter how safe and cautious of a driver you are, accidents can happen. From unexpected wildlife in the road to errors from other drivers, it is more appropriate to think in terms of “when” an accident will happen, not “if”.
Getting into an auto accident, no matter how small, is very stressful. Here are some tips to help you prepare in advance of an accident and also some pointers on what to do if you are party to an accident.
Equip Your Car with an Emergency Kit
Every driver should have a well-stocked emergency kit, and know how to use it. Here are things that we have found to be helpful.
A good first aid kit is important to have in your car. At minimum it should include gauze, medical tape, non-adhesive bandages, and an elastic bandage. Also include gloves, tweezers, small scissors, swabs, cotton balls, and antibiotic cream. A small first aid booklet can also be helpful.
A pen and paper to jot down notes for exchanging information with other drives is also helpful. If your camera does not have a cell phone, include a disposable camera in your glove box to take photos.
Flares or bright reflective triangles are good to have in your car. Putting these out can help avoid secondary accidents if you are blocking the road or if there is debris. A small fire extinguisher is also a good investment to have in your car.
A blanket or large towel is good to have. This can help cover accident victims to ward off shock and also be an extra layer for warmth if you were to otherwise get stranded on the side of the road.
Have an Insurance Check Up
Many of us get our car insurance and then just keep payment renewals each year. It is good to periodically check your coverage and also to make sure you are getting all available discounts available to you. You can always get an online insurance quote or check with your insurance broker to check different rates.
Keep your insurance information handy in your car. Write your agent’s name and number down, as well as your policy number. You will want to exchange insurance information with other drivers if you are in an accident.
At the Accident Site
If you are in an accident, there are some specific things you will want to do.
If it is a minor fender bender, move your car safely off the road. Write down the other car’s license plate number. When you speak to the other parties in the accident, do not admit fault or try to reconstruct what happened with the person you were in the accident with. You will want to exchange insurance information.
If the accident is more serious and requires immediate medical response due to critical injuries, call 911 and provide specific detail on the location. If you are comfortable doing so, you can render basic first aid or make your first aid kit available to those who have medical skills. Do not move an injured patient unless they are in imminent danger. Watch for leaking car fluids and potential sources of ignition.
Document the accident by writing down notes and also taking pictures of the damage on your car and their car. If there were other witnesses to the accident, get there contact information in case the police or your insurance company need to contact them.
Contact your insurance agent or insurance company and provide all the information you gathered at the accident site to your agent. Depending on what the requirements are in your state and the amount of damage, you may need to file an accident report with your state motor vehicle department.
I know that getting in an accident is a very scary thing. However, by being prepared with ahead of time, you can take some of the stress out of the accident scene. Remember, drive safe and buckle up.
Melissa Cameron is a freelance writer who uses the internet to get things done quickly so she can get back to the fun things off-line. This week she used the internet to reserve a hotel room, rent a car, get cheap motor vehicle insurance, and renew her magazine subscriptions. When she is not doing her online errands, she likes spending time with her husband and two young children.