Safety basics reduce stress and save lives after a crash
BOISE – (October 10, 2017) – Car crashes are stressful, sudden, and unexpected, and nearly 6 million occur on U.S. roadways each year. AAA provides important safety advice for the many drivers who aren’t sure what steps they should take after a collision.
“What you do before a crash makes a big difference in what happens after,” says Matthew Conde, public affairs director for AAA Idaho. “Simple things like a paper and pen, a cell phone, flashlight, first-aid kit, emergency lighting or reflectors, and a copy of your insurance card are extremely useful after a collision. It’s also a good idea to have some kind of tool that can break out a window and cut through a seat belt if the need arises.”
After a crash, AAA recommends that drivers remember the “ABC’s”:
Assist the injured. “Your first priority is to determine if there are any injuries,” Conde said. “If medical attention is needed, call 911 right away. Even if there aren’t any injuries, take the precautions necessary to make sure no one is in imminent danger at the roadside.”
Be visible. Before exchanging insurance information, make sure everyone is safe. If there are no injuries and the vehicles are drivable, pull into an emergency lane or nearby parking lot. Turn on hazard lights, and control the scene by using flares or emergency reflectors to warn other drivers. Do not leave the scene of the crash, but find a safe place to wait until authorities arrive.
Communicate. If you are involved in a crash that involves an unattended vehicle or property, wait a reasonable length of time for the owner. If you cannot locate the owner, leave a note with your full name and contact information.
“If the damage exceeds $1,500, you’re also required to file a police report,” Conde said. “If there aren’t any injuries but there is significant damage, contact local law enforcement on a non-emergency line. It can be hard to estimate the cost of damage, so when in doubt, make the call.”
AAA encourages crash participants to document the scene and exchange information, including the following details:
- Names (including witnesses)
- Addresses/email address
- Vehicle information including makes, models and years for all cars involved
- Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) and license plate numbers for all vehicles
- Driver’s license numbers
- Photos of the scene/people involved/vehicle damage (use your cell phone)
“Drivers should notify their insurance companies as soon as possible,” Conde said. “A lot of the stress goes away when trained professionals get involved in the claims process.”
AAA reminds drivers to keep proof of insurance in their vehicles as required by law. While motorists should be prepared to take legal and financial responsibility if they are found liable after a crash, fault should be established by a member of law enforcement or by the insurance company. Drivers also have the right to consult with an attorney prior to giving a statement to police.
“The main thing is to keep emotions under control,” Conde said. “Stress leads to very poor decision-making, but if drivers will methodically complete a sort of ‘accident checklist’, the process of recovering from a crash will go a lot smoother.”