That’s why this week’s post covers what to do if you are involved in an accident during your road trip.
•· The first thing you should ever do in case of an accident is to make sure that everyone is okay. Your personal wellbeing and the physical wellbeing of your family is of the utmost priority. Check on all passengers for any physical injuries, and be especially aware of children who, though they may not be physically injured, may be scared and need to be comforted. If anyone (including yourself) is injured, call 911 right away. If you were involved in an accident with another vehicle, it’s a good idea to check on the driver and passengers in that vehicle as well, in case someone needs assistance and is unable to call for help themselves.
•· After checking for injuries (and if you haven’t already dialed 911), you should call the police. If your accident involves injuries, make sure that the dispatcher is aware of that when you call, so that they can send EMT assistance as well as a police officer. Answer all of the officer’s questions completely and truthfully, but only report on the facts. Do not make any guesses or speculate about the facts surrounding the accident. Whatever you do, do not apologize or admit fault. Make sure that you get a copy of the police report or find out where a copy can be picked up later, if one is not immediately available.
•· Exchange all the necessary information with the other driver, if possible, including legal name, address, and contact phone numbers, as well as all car insurance information. You should always check this information yourself (rather than letting the other driver deliver the information verbally) for accuracy and to ensure that they are not giving you false information. If the accident occurred in a state other than your home state, you should look into the insurance laws for that particular state, to determine if that will affect how you will proceed with making an insurance claim. For example, some states require no-fault insurance policies while others require at-fault policies.
•· If your car is not drivable, make arrangements to have it towed to a mechanic or repair shop, and look into a rental car company nearby. If you are a member of a roadside assistance program, they should be able to help.
•· Make sure you notify your final destination (whether it is a hotel, a friend, or a relative) to let them know what’s happened, to relay any pertinent details and information, and to let them know that you are delayed and when your new estimated arrival time will be.
•· As soon as you reach your destination (or before, if possible), make a report to your insurance company regarding the accident. Follow the same rule-of-thumb that you did when reporting the accident to the police: stick to the facts, don’t speculate, and don’t admit fault.
Check back for part four of our winter Road Trip Safety Series for helpful tips and tricks to keep you and your family safe while traveling.