Do you know what to do if you get in a car accident?
Accidents happen – that is just a fact of driving. When they do, we often get nervous, scared and forget the basic steps to follow for safety. Here are some simple tips:
Keep calm: Do not get in an argument or panic.
Check on passengers: Dial 911 IMMEDIATELY if there are injuries.
Get to a safe area: If car can be moved, get it safely to a shoulder then turn off engine. If can not be moved, turn on hazard lights, turn off engine and get out of danger. If on a busy street, get out of the road and onto a sidewalk. The farther away from the road the better. If on highway/interstate get behind the guardrail and off the shoulder.
Call the police, even for minor accidents: This ensures safety of all individuals and creates a paper record for insurance purposes.
If needed, call roadside assistance: Always have your preferred roadside assistance phone number saved in your contacts list for easy access.
Exchange important information:
- Contact details – name and phone, email
- Insurance information
- Driver’s License numbers
- Make and model of all vehicles
- Name and badge numbers of officers
Take pictures: Use that smartphone and document the accident. Take pictures of the scene as well as photos of the damage to all vehicles. Also, take a picture of license plates.
It is always a good idea to have an emergency kit in your vehicle. Items to include are first aid kit, flashlight, flares, blanket, list of emergency contacts with phone numbers, phone charger and water/food. Even printing this list of basic safety tips and keeping in car can help in a stressful situation. Accidents happen – it is how we respond that matters.
And many of these affected cars have yet to be repaired. In fact, the NHTSA estimates that a quarter of recalled vehicles are never fixed. There are about 60 million recalled vehicles on the road that have not been repaired, according to CarFax. Even though the repairs are free, many vehicle owners never get their cars fixed.
Some owners may not even know that their cars have been recalled. If a car was purchased from a dealer, a recall notice is sent via mail. However, many owners are no longer at the address, have since sold the car or just don’t pay attention.
Don’t let a vehicle recall on one of your cars slip through the cracks. These are significant safety issues, which need to be addressed. It is a good idea to check recalls yourself every year. NHTSA’s website recalls.gov or safecar.gov enables you to easily do that with the following tools:
- Check open recalls on your vehicle using the 17-digit VIN. Your VIN can be found on the registration card and on the vehicle dash. This tool tracks recalls for the past 15 years, so is especially helpful for used car owners.
- Search for vehicle recalls using the make, model and year of your car.
- Sign up for email alerts on the latest vehicle recalls.
The NHTSA is working on other proactive tools for recalls – apps and automatic alerts in the vehicle. Until then, and even after, put your safety in your own hands and occasionally check for recalls.