When you aren’t able to evade an accident, the next best thing is to make sure you handle the situation the right way. So if you find yourself in the middle of a fender bender or something possibly more severe, here are a handful of practices you should unquestionably avoid:
1. Leaving the involved vehicles on the road
With traffic struggling to move around the accident scene, your priority is to pull your vehicle off to the side of the road at a safe distance from traffic. Then turn on your hazard lights before exiting your car, and approach the other driver in a non-threatening manner. If one or more vehicles are disabled, don’t try to move them, if the hazard lights are operating, turn them on. Use flares too if you have them. Then stay a very safe distance away from the traffic.
2. Losing your cool
Even if the other driver was undoubtedly at fault, do not make allegations or otherwise invite confrontation. Instead, ask if the other person is OK to help defuse any tension. Take deep breaths if you feel anger building.
3. Not communicating with the police instantaneously
You must contact the police, no matter how trivial the situation. Typically people should not act as judges about the harshness of an incident. That’s for the police to determine. Also, you need an official police report to document what exactly occurred.
4. Not telephoning your insurance provider
Your insurance agent should always be called after you’ve swapped the following information with the other driver: name, address, phone number, insurance company name/policy number, license plate number/state, name of the vehicle owner, and car year/make/model/color. Also, record details about the incident, such as the location, the time of the crash, and a summary of how it happened. Take pictures of the damage done to your vehicle.
5. Accepting currency to “keep it quiet.”
Some drivers—if they’re at fault and face likely legal and/or insurance issues because of their record—might offer what looks like a satisfactory amount of cash to “fix the problem without contacting the police or insurance companies.” This is a bad idea. Even if it doesn’t look like it will cost that much to fix your vehicle you have no way of knowing how costly it may truly get. There’s also damage that you can’t see. Contacting the police and your agent is unconditionally crucial.