It’s never fun when you experience a car accident, even if it’s only a minor one. And more often than not, the activity following an accident can be a little chaotic, especially if you don’t know what to do. If you are a driver and you do happen to get into an accident, these 10 tips will help you maintain your sanity – and safety.
The first thing to do after you’ve been in an accident is to remain calm, particularly as accidents can bring out intense feelings of stress, anxiety, panic and anger. Stay calm, breathe deeply and secure your car. This means applying the handbrake, turning off the ignition and putting on your hazard lights.
Next, you’ll need to check for injuries. Inspect yourself thoroughly and ensure you can move your hands and toes and that no part of your body is trapped. If you experience any back or neck pain (or any severe pain elsewhere), stay in your car, if it’s safe to do so, and call 000.
If you’re alright, you should also check to make sure your passengers are okay. Perform the same inspection above on any passengers and don’t assume they are fine simply because they say so. If you need to get out of the car, make sure you check for dangers, such as oncoming traffic or leaking petrol/fires, before you get out.
When all of our passengers are safe, check to see if the people in the other vehicle/s have sustained any injuries. If they have, administer medical assistance and call 000.
If both you and your “accident counterpart” are both unharmed, you’ll need to move your vehicles out of the way of traffic, to avoid causing anymore accidents. If your car is not driveable, call the authorities immediately.
Once your car has been moved to a safe location, exchange details with the other driver. Ensure that you note down their name, address, registration number, licence number, phone number, make/model/colour of their car and the name of their insurance agency. It’s important not to admit fault at this stage or converse about the accident with the other driver, as this will need to be determined by your insurance agencies and/or the police.
If the other driver refuses to share their details with you, write down their registration number and their car colour, make and model and phone the local police.
Did any pedestrians or other drivers witness your accident? If so, take down their names and numbers. They will be able to corroborate what happened later on, if necessary.
If you have a camera (even in your phone), take photos of your accident. Make sure you document all cars involved also take photos any other evidence from the accident, such as skid marks on the road or damaged poles. Where possible, draw a sketch marking out how the accident occurred, including lane movements and distances from curbs etc.
It’s important to report the accident as soon as possible to your insurance agency and the police (unless they are already present). Most insurance agencies will often require you to report your accident within a certain timeframe, in order to qualify for a claim.
Most of the time, your insurance agency will organise to have your car towed or repaired for you. But if not, you’ll need to organise this yourself. You may have a preferred tower or mechanic or simply choose one that’s situated close to your home.
Car accidents can be traumatic! Make sure you de-stress after your accident, particularly if it was major. If you sustained any minor injuries, seek medical help and ask for support from a friend or family member.
Finally, follow up with your insurance agency (and possibly the other driver’s insurance agency) in regards to your insurance claim. They will advise you on how to proceed with your claim and will obtain any repair quotes from you – and ultimately help you recover from the accident and get your car back on track!