A Practical Guide to Handling and Avoiding Car Accidents
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recorded 42,915 traffic accident-related fatalities in 2021. This figure was a 10.5 percent increase from the 2020 statistics.
For this reason, it's critical to take measures to avoid car accidents and minimize their risks. This article will discuss the common causes of car accidents in the United States and what to do if you get in one.
What To Do After a Car AccidentNo matter how careful you may be, you can't control external factors that could lead to an accident. If you ever get in this situation, staying present and mindful is critical.
You can follow the steps below to ease the stress and make the right decisions in a car accident.
1. Don't leave the areaDo not leave the accident site, especially if you or the other driver has suffered injuries or property damage. If law enforcement gets involved, don't leave without speaking to the investigating officer.
Leaving immediately after a serious accident could lead to a hit-and-run charge.
2. Check for injuriesExamine yourself and any passengers you may have for pain and injuries. If everyone is safe, check on the other vehicle's driver and passengers.
Call 911 immediately if anyone is injured, even if unsure of the severity. Some injuries, such as internal bleeding, could be invisible to the naked eye.
Ask if anyone in the area knows how to do first aid. However, do not do anything beyond your knowledge or training. Call and wait for medical assistance instead.
3. Call emergency servicesIf you call 911, police and medics may arrive. Anyone who's injured would receive proper medical assistance, and cops would interview everyone involved. If the cops don't come, you can visit a police station to file a report yourself.
4. Move the vehiclesMove the vehicles to a safer area if possible, such as in a minor accident. Leaving them in the middle of the road could cause a traffic jam. It may also make it difficult for medics and police to reach you.
5. Exchange information with other partiesOnce it is safe, talk to the other driver and exchange information. The following info would be helpful, especially if you file an insurance claim or file a lawsuit:
- Driver's name
- Contact details (physical address, phone number, email address)
- Insurance company and policy number
- Vehicle owner's name and contact info if the driver doesn't own the vehicle
- Driver's license number
- Witness names and contact information, if any
6. Document the scene
Gather potential evidence, even if you may be unsure of your future steps. These details would be helpful in the case of insurance or legal disputes.Note relevant information such as the makes and models of the vehicles involved, license plate numbers, and descriptions.
Take pictures and videos of the scene, and focus on details such as scratches, dents, skid marks, and vehicle positions. Talk to witnesses if there are any. Check if there are surveillance cameras around the area.
7. Contact your insurance companyNotify your insurance company about the accident immediately, even if you don't intend to file a claim.
Even if you weren't at fault, most companies require you to contact them about any incident that might require coverage. Failure to do so could affect your coverage and insurance premiums.
8. Notify the DMV if necessaryDepending on the area, you may need to give an account of your collision to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). For example, the California DMV requires you to report a traffic accident within ten days if it meets the following conditions:
- Someone is injured or killed
- Property damage exceeds $1000
9. Talk to a lawyerBe wary of what you say during and after the accident, especially when involving severe injuries or property damage.
In these situations, it's best to talk to a car accident lawyer before talking to the other party's representatives. A lawyer can offer valuable advice and guidance on how to proceed.
Common Car Accident CausesAccidents are often unexpected, but they are preventable. Identifying the cause of a car accident is also essential in an investigation.
Knowing these common causes can help you become a better driver and minimize the risk of getting in a traffic accident.
Impaired drivingImpaired driving is a dangerous practice. It refers to driving under the influence of certain substances like drugs or alcohol or while one is tired or sleepy.
These substances and conditions can affect the driver's faculties and judgment, which may cause them to drive erratically. As a result, the driver's chances of getting into an accident could increase.
Aside from its physical dangers, driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs could get you in legal trouble. Driving while intoxicated or impaired (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI) are criminal offenses in all states.
Distracted drivingResponsible driving requires the driver to focus on the road. Aside from possible obstacles, they must be wary of other vehicles and pedestrians. Anything that takes away from this focus is a distraction.
Distractions can come from using one's phone, scrolling through social media, or talking to other passengers. While some may dismiss these distractions as minor, they could cause an accident when done at the wrong time.
SpeedingIt can be tempting to drive at higher speeds sometimes, especially if you're running late to work, school, or an important event. However, it can also increase your likelihood of an accident.
You could lose control of your vehicle. The faster you drive, the harder it will be to stop or change direction. This practice is hazardous around intersections or high-traffic areas where you could potentially hit pedestrians or other vehicles.
Make sure to drive safely, follow speed limits, and be wary of your surroundings.
Reckless drivingRecklessness involves driving practices that wantonly or willfully disregard traffic rules and other people's safety. Sometimes, the driver may even act in ways that endanger themselves.
- Racing other vehicles
- Driving without headlights
- Rapidly switching lanes
- Passing other vehicles improperly
- Failing to follow traffic rules
Inclement weather conditionsCertain weather conditions can make driving more difficult or dangerous. Rain could make roads more slippery, or fog could make it harder for drivers to see what they're doing.
It's critical to take extra care when driving in less-than-ideal weather conditions. Avoid speeding, and make sure to focus on the road ahead.
Car accidents are dangerous, but they are preventable. Although it may be daunting to think about worst-case scenarios, education and preparation are extremely helpful. Understanding car accident causes and preparing for various situations can lessen its risks.
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