U.S. Census Bureau crash facts show there were 10.8 million motor vehicle accidents in the United States in 2009. Almost 14,000 of those involved more than one vehicle. The total reflects incidents that include everything from single vehicle rollovers to car/pedestrian incidents and minor fender benders to multi-car pile-ups on the expressway.
Even though a wreck is unsettling, there are a few things that everyone involved in every type of accident ought to do. So what do you do if you are cruising down the street, headed out of town for a day, and someone runs a red light and T-bones you? Here are a few tips to keep you focused.
Prevent More Damage
Turn off the vehicle. Running the engine with a leaking radiator could lead to engine damage from overheating. Damaged fuel lines and gas tanks pose fire hazards. Sparks from idling cars increase the potential for ignition. Compromised parking and braking mechanisms can’t be trusted to keep a car stationary.
Call Your Folks
Call your family or friends to let them know you’re alright. No one wants to flip on the tube and see a son’s, sister’s or mother’s car being loaded onto a wrecker. You might need a ride and some help to keep your head together. Call someone who can come help you, and let others know you’re in good hands.
If your phone is damaged, ask to borrow one from a witness or the other people involved in the crash. By the way, you can get insurance for theft, loss and damage from GoCare.com for both old and new phones, and they usually get it back to you within two to three days.
Document the Scene
Whether it is minor or your ride is totaled, before you move your car, take photos with your smartphone and email them to yourself. This is one of the top five tips for people involved in an accident from InsuranceHotline.com. Emailing the photos establishes the time and date if you end up in court.
Insurance companies recommend keeping a disposable camera in the glove box, since even if you have a smartphone, it might be damaged in the wreck. The big box stores, Walgreens and CVS have several disposable cameras for less than $10 with flash, so you’ll be covered for daytime or nighttime accidents.
Cars.com recommends you take photos of the scene, the people involved and vehicle damage. Get the name, badge number, contact information and the accident report number before the officer leaves the scene.
Get at least two estimates from reputable body shops. Look for companies that offer free estimates and a lifetime warranty on parts and labor. Schedule your repair service as soon as possible to get back on the road faster.
It is hard to stay calm when you are involved in an accident, so prepare early if you can. Keep a checklist in your glove box to keep you focused.
Guest Author: Quincy Mathers
Born and raised in Detroit, it just so happens Quincy is an auto expert. He hopes to open his own dealership in the Southwest someday soon, but in the meantime he is happy writing about cars and the auto industry.