What should I do if I have an accident?

The thought of having an car accident scares most of us, and while everyone likes to think the roads are safe, no one can prepare for everything.  We hope it never happens, we honestly do, but sometimes a little bit of information can help you in the most dire experiences to make you feel a little safe, help you recover  and to reduce the stress of the situation.

Be preventative.

The best way to reduce the impact of an accident is to make sure that you are following basic safety guidelines and road rules.  Don’t speed, not only can this cause accidents from yourself, but even if it is the other person’s fault (ie a head on collision), speeding will only enhance the impact.   OF course remembering to do up your seat belt is important at all times to prevent the impact on yourself.  Further, make sure your car is installed with airbags, including for passengers.

During the event

You will not always have time to think and consider your movements during an accident but sometimes good reflexes and a little bit of the right knowledge can help.  Firstly, stop accelerating and if the distance is too short for breaking, remove your feet back form the pedals to lessen the chance of foot and lower leg injuries.  IF you know the crash is inevitable and cannot manoeuvre away, fold your arms across your chest as this protects the body and prevents arms from getting trapped or themselves hurt.  While this may seem like a position you take on a plane, remember not to lean forward as you will only be putting your head in harms way.

Further, you should consider taking a defensive driving course.  These courses teach how to reduce risks while driving under different conditions and are often specific to your area, such as rainy weather or snow.

Immediately after the crash

You will probably be filled with adrenalin and want to panic but try and remain calm as some logical thinking and careful planning may reduce further injury.  If you are the driver, turn the engine off immediately unless the car is not damaged so bad that it cannot be driven off the road.  If you are okay do not need immediate attention check with other passengers to determine who is hurt and needs attention first. 

Before exiting the vehicle, take time to check exactly where you are.  We would like to think that traffic stops once an accident happens but there may be impatient people looking to get past.  If possible, open the door as far and wide as you can to show people your intention and try to check oncoming traffic if possible.  Ensure passengers follow the same method. 

If your vehicle has been rolled or flipped, take extra care.  If the seat belt is holding you up, remember when you undo it, you will fall, hitting your head on the ground, so pressure from your arms to reduce impact may be needed.  The doors may not also open and you may be required to break a window to get out.  Many people may lack the strength to break it with their arm so you may need to turn your body and use your feet.  Obviously be careful of broken glass and use a hard object if one can be found.

Once out of the vehicle, move safely to the side of the road and away from traffic.  Do not gather any items unless absolute necessary (medication etc), when the police or assistance vehicle arrives you will have plenty of time to grab everything you need.

Call the Police, then an Ambulance if required,  and then a tow truck or assistance vehicle.

IF someone is hurt or requires immediate medical attention, the phone call should be for an ambulance.  If no one requires immediate attention, regardless of what caused the accident, your next call should always be to the police.  While you may want help form an assistance vehicle, the police are trained in road management and can accurately assess the situation, determining traffic flow and directing it away from the accident site.   This helps prevent further risk at the site form oncoming vehicles.

 Only after making contact with emergency services should  you contact a tow truck if needed. Read our previous articles on what information you can provide to make the towing experience easier and how to be safe and secure while waiting for assistance vehicles.

If you haven’t contacted an ambulance initially as there was no emergency, and there is no need to stay with the vehicle, you should consider seeking medical assistance afterwards.  Pain and injuries can be hidden under the effect of the adrenalin and it is always recommended a thorough check-up after the body had undergone significant trauma, both physical and emotional.