In the United States, there are over 268.8 million vehicles registered and the number of registered drivers is close to that number. There is no denying that the high level of traffic in the country is one of the reasons why there are so many traffic accidents in the country. If you drive around a lot, there are high chances that you will get in an accident at some point. If you drive with your children in the car, it is important that you know what to do if you are in an accident. Below is a guide on, what to do if you are in a car accident.
If you have been in an accident, always stop no matter how small you think the accident was. So after the accident, you need to stay calm, switch your hazard warning lights and if possible your headlights. These will keep you safe while on the highway by preventing further accidents. If you are in the dark use a flashlight. You are legally obliged by the law to stop.
2. Check for injuries
Most people after they have been involved in an accident, especially the minor accidents, they do not stop to check for injuries. You might not feel the pain at first because your body has generated adrenaline and endorphins which supercharge your body and even block the pain. Therefore, just because you feel fine, it does not mean you are fine. You will be surprised to know that 20 to 50 million people are disabled or injured in car accidents annually. So, to avoid further injuries take the time to check yourself for any injuries you might have sustained. Some injuries you might have sustained include herniated discs, knee and shoulder injuries among others.
3. Check your passengers for injuries
If you are not too hurt to move you should check on your children. While driving, your children are the most precious cargo that is why you should put them in a car seat whenever they are in the car. According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel over 1600 children under the age of 15 dies in car crashes every year. That is why it is important to make sure that your children are strapped in every time. If anyone is injured, call emergency services and if you cannot do it yourself ask a bystander to call for help immediately.
4. Get to safety
If you are not too hurt and you can move, move to the sidewalk or the side of the road. Get your child out of the car and on to the sidewalk as well. If the state law requires you to move your car you should do it but only if the car is in good condition, otherwise leave it where it is. If you cannot move your car, use the hazard lights to alert other drivers.
5. Contact law enforcement
When everyone is out of danger, you can proceed to call 911 and ensure you give them as much information as possible. Some of the things that you should tell them to include your exact location and the highway mile marker or your closest intersection. You should also tell the dispatcher how many cars were involved and how many people have been injured. In some states, you are legally required to call the police even if the accident was minor. If the police cannot come to the scene of the accident you can go to the nearest police station and fill out an accident report. If the police are coming, you can turn off the engine and wait for help.
6. Exchange information
After making sure that no one including your child is injured, you can proceed to exchange information with the other driver. Some of the important information you should get includes;
• Their full names and their contact information
• The insurance company and their policy number
• Their driver’s license and license number plate
• Location of the accident
• Color, type and make of the vehicle
Taking photographs of the damage not just of your car but also of the other car involved is a good idea. Take pictures of the license plate and the other driver’s insurance card and license. If there are any witnesses, get their information as well. These could come in handy when filing a claim. Once the police arrive, they will fill in an accident report.
7. Contact the insurance company and seek medical attention
You should alert not just your insurance company but also that of the other driver. You should also take the initiative and file an insurance claim. By doing so, you are protecting your finances in the long term. Your next step should be to a hospital to seek medical treatment. Even if you are not in pain and none of your children is bleeding, it is a good idea to get checked up at a hospital. In most cases, the victims do not report feeling pain from injuries such as whiplash until the next day. Just to be safe and have peace of mind, see a doctor and have your children checked out.
The period after an accident can be confusing and stressful. However, if you follow the above steps, you know exactly what to do after a car accident and you can protect yourself and your children. Remember that you should only arrange for repairs to the car after it has been inspected.