When you’re a kid, the two words “car crash” can be among the scariest phrases you ever hear. The idea of something heavy crashing into your vehicle, potentially at very high speed, is one of the most terrifying mental images. And, while the majority of crashes are lower-speed and less intense, the truth of the matter is that even a minor car accident can leave you quite shaken – even as an adult.
The facts are that, on average, a motorist will have at least three car crashes in their time behind the wheel – and the fact that they’re still behind the wheel to have that third should at least make people feel more confident about surviving an impact. It also means that it’s something that could easily happen to you, and it’s worth being aware of the things to do – and not to do – when you’re in a car accident.
DO get out of the vehicle
Even in a minor accident, it is advisable to leave the vehicle once it has come to a stop. As a safety first measure, it is important to be aware that there are dangers to staying in the car – even a relatively low-impact crash could cause a fault that may start a fire. Also, it is only by getting yourself and everyone else out of the car that you will be able to check on everyone’s well-being and the extent of damage to the vehicle. You should also take pictures of your car at the roadside to show the damage at the time of the accident. Don’t, however, make a point of photographing the other car. In fact…
DON’T point the finger at another driver
After a car accident, there’s a lot of adrenaline around and everyone is on edge. You may, with some justification, feel that your safety has been put at risk by another driver. It is, however, unwise to start making accusations as you stand there waiting for recovery vehicles, an ambulance, law enforcement or any other assistance. As belligerent as you may be feeling, the other driver may be feeling just as angry, and you don’t want to add a hot-headed confrontation to the list of problems you’re dealing with. Exchange details in the normal fashion, check on their well-being, and leave the apportioning of blame for professionals.
DO make sure you and everyone else are OK
Your car, their car, and roadside barriers may be somewhat the worse for wear after a crash, but all of these things can be remedied at leisure and have a dollar value. Human life is a different matter. Check everyone in your car – firstly to see that they are conscious, and then to get verbal confirmation that they are feeling okay. Look out for bleeding, especially from anywhere on the head, and if there are any injuries – in your car or the other – call for an ambulance. It’s helpful if you know the signs of concussion and what to do in case it happens, but unless you’re a doctor, actual diagnosis should be left to a professional.
DON’T talk about the accident itself
It’s possible that the driver of the other car will make their way over to you at some point to engage in a conversation about the incident. Just as you shouldn’t make any accusations, you shouldn’t discuss the accident with another driver. They may seek to get you to confirm their version of events, and the only way to deal with this is to say “I don’t want to get into it, everyone’s a bit shaken”. The rights and wrongs of the incident will be litigated by car accident representation on both sides – and if you’ve admitted any percentage of the fault just to be polite, it will go against you in court.
There are other things that are advisable in the event of an accident. Try to remember all of the details you can (such as time of day, weather, the speed you were driving at and the point of contact) – write them down or make a note on your phone if possible. For reasons already set out, don’t discuss these details out loud. Bear in mind that it is normal to be in some measure of shock after a car accident, so keep checking on everyone’s well-being and ensure that people stay safely by the side of the road. Switch on the hazard lights on your car, and wait patiently for any assistance to show up. Being in a car accident is scary – but by following the correct procedures, you’ll come through it OK.