Alright, granted, if we had magical abilities we would never get into an accident in the first place. Preferably that is just what we want for every reader – for you to never get into an accident. However, we realize that accidents are just that, according to Webster – unplanned or not intended events that occur almost by chance. Yes, accidents happen to many of us, and while we can’t always control the event itself, we can control how we prepare and often times what happens afterwards to make it go as smoothly as possible – almost like magic.
Preparation Before An Accident
Every driver should take certain steps as soon as they own a vehicle to make any accident go smoothly (as well as be prepared in general for operating a vehicle. Most of us have heard from our parents and know these ourselves, but they often get left behind as updates are made. These steps include the following:
- Have your registration in the vehicle, easily accessible.
- Have updated insurance information in the vehicle, easily accessible, and preferably with your registration information. Be sure to have an insurance card or something in writing as many police officers will still want to see an actual card as opposed to a digital one you can pull up on your phone. Additionally, be sure to keep the updated insurance card. Depending on your insurance plan, they will be sending out updated coverage cards every 6 months or a year and it’s easy to forget to swap out the cards so that you have an up-to-date card with you at all times.
- Cell phone or a way to contact people in case of an emergency. (Of course we do not recommend using the cell phone while you’re driving, unless you’re trying to cause an accident and in that case there’s a whole separate conversation that needs to be had.)
- A camera. For most of us this will be our smart phone, but it’s also a good idea to keep a disposable camera with you just in case.
- Driver’s License. Hopefully you never operate a vehicle without this, but just to be safe, make sure you have it on you as well at all times.
- Keep a writing utensil and a pad in the car at all times. Generally this is just helpful overall, but comes in especially helpful after an accident.
- Keep an emergency kit in your car. With everything from flashlights, to flares or warning cones as well as light medical aids (band-aids, etc).
- Clean pair of underwear? For those of us that are a little older, we can remember our parents always recommending that we have a clean pair of underwear with us as well. I’m not sure if this is as essential as the above items, but it can’t hurt to have, although you may get odd looks if someone sees you open your glove box and you have a set of underwear in there.
After the Accident
Being involved in an accident can be one of the most traumatic events in our lives. For most accidents, minor injuries would be involved. For more devastating crashes, more severe injuries may be involved and we do not mean to make light of those instances whatsoever. While the steps/tips below are important no matter the accident, if the injuries are severe, that overrides any other steps that we would recommend. In the majority of accidents, there are few injuries and even fewer severe ones and we’ll be focusing on trying to make such accidents go as smoothly as possible.
- Assess the situation. Usually after an accident you may be shaken up and it’s important to assess the situation.
- Is everyone alright?
- Are you still in danger (in the road)
- Is the auto still drivable? Movable?
- Has 911 been called?
- Determine if there’s injuries and to what extent. This way you know whether or not to move someone and you can also let the dispatcher on 911 know.
- Get to safety. If people can be moved and the vehicle can still be driven or moved, get the vehicles to the safety of a shoulder, side road, or parking lot.
- Call 911. Obviously, this may be the first step depending on the severity of the accident, but if it can wait until you can move to safety, it is even better.
- Ensure that the other driver and passenger(s) are okay.
- Exchange information:
- Phone Number
- Insurance Company
- Policy Number
- Driver License Number
- License Plate Number
- Owner of Vehicle (If owner is different from insurance, find out relationship).
- Photograph and document the accident . Take photos of the vehicle, people involved, and location.
- File an accident report. Be sure there is a report filed even if the police aren’t called or don’t make a report unless there’s an injury, you can still file a state vehicle accident report which is available at the police station.
- Figure out what to do about your vehicle. What shape is it in? If it is still drivable this gives you more time to determine what kind of repairs you want to pursue. If it is not drivable it will be best to locate the best collision shop in the area and ask them to come and tow out. Be sure to check if they work with your insurance company as this can make the process much easier. Shops like Go Collision, one of the best shops for auto body Salt Lake City, work directly with your insurance company to insure a smooth process as well as guarantee their work for life!
- Call your insurance agency. They may have other insight and steps that they want you to take, but your safety and the safety of those around you is always more important.
By following the steps above, you will be able to make the aftermath of an accident go as smoothly as possible – almost like magic. Now once we figure out how to make the entirety of the accident disappear, that would be a real magic trick!