When you aren’t able to escape 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 potentially more serious, here are six practices you should unquestionably avoid:
1. Leaving the involved vehicles on the road
With traffic attempting to move around the accident scene, your main concern 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 incapacitated, don’t try to move them. If the hazard lights are working, 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 clearly at fault, do not make allegations or otherwise invite conflict. Instead, ask if the other person is OK to help defuse any tension take deep breaths if you feel anger building.
3. Not contacting the police straightway
You must contact police, no matter how slight the situation. Average citizens should not act as judges with regard to the severity of an incident, that’s for police to determine. In addition, you need an official police report to document what exactly happened.
4. Not communicating 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 cash to “keep it quiet.”
Some drivers—if they’re at fault and can face possible legal and/or insurance issues because of their record—might offer what looks like a adequate amount of cash to “fix the problem without contacting 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 actually get. There’s also damage that you can’t see. Contacting police and your insurance agent is absolutely essential.