What you need to do if you are involved in a car accident
Christmas is fast approaching. For many of us this means making more trips than we normally would, especially more car journeys. But would you know what to do if you were involved in a car accident?
It’s something we don’t like to think about, and hopefully will never happen. But if the worst did happen, it’s better to be prepared and know what needs to be done than panic at the time.
So in this article we look at:
- five key things you need to do if you are unfortunately involved in a car accident.
- five factors that may help you to avoid an accident in the first place.
Five key things you need to do if you are involved in a car accident
If you are involved in a car accident, try not to panic. Whatever has happened, there are five key things you need to do to start getting things sorted out.
To make these easy to remember we are going to use the acronym SWIPE:
S – Stop the car
You are legally obliged to stop after an accident, even if you think it is very minor. Pull over, switch off the engine and turn your hazard lights on. If you are on a motorway, get to the hard shoulder or – if a smart motorway – one of the emergency pull off areas. If you are on a smart motorway and your car is not able to do this dial 999 immediately.
W – Where is everyone?
You need a quick assessment of what has happened and where everyone is. First of all check on the people in your own car. If there is any risk to them by remaining in the car, get them out as long as it is safe to do so. Make sure that everyone is well away from the road and no-one goes wandering off for any reason.
Also see if you are able to help the driver(s) and passengers of any other vehicles involved. And check if there are witnesses who saw the accident as you will need information from them later.
I – Is anyone injured?
You also need to be sure that no-one has been injured in any way. If in any doubt, call an ambulance, as minor injuries can be more serious than they first appear, and concussion can come on a little while after the accident. Do not hesitate to call for help: better safe than sorry.
P – Police?
Many motorists are unaware that all car accidents – however small – must be reported to the police within 24 hours. This can be done by using 101 either by phone or online.
But you need to call 999 immediately if the accident is serious, is causing an obstruction, or if any of the involved parties is becoming aggressive.
E – Exchange information
Before anyone leaves the scene of the accident you need to exchange relevant information. Insurance companies will need names, contact details, and information about the vehicles involved. Make an accurate note of the date, time and details of the accident and also take plenty of photos as they can help to show what happened and any damage caused.
It is also important that if there are witnesses to the accident, you have their contact details too.
Remember to inform your insurer about the accident as soon as you can, even if you don’t intend to make a claim. Many insurers require you to do this within 24 hours. You need to declare the accident to keep your information up to date and ensure that your insurance remains valid.
Five factors that may help you to avoid an accident in the first place
There are also various ways in which you can try and minimise the risk of being involved in any kind of accident. There are no guarantees, but the following actions can help:
Keep your car in good condition
Regular car maintenance makes a big difference to the safety of your car. As well as its annual MOT, and servicing as needed, you need to make sure that tyres and fluids are all at the correct levels and that there is no damage to windows, wipers or lights. Also check that you have plenty of fuel. This is particularly important before heading off for a long journey in wintry conditions.
Be familiar with your car controls
This might sound strange, but many of us have some controls in our car that we either don’t use or don’t really understand. But on a long journey, particularly in unfamiliar areas and/or difficult driving conditions, you need to be confident that you know exactly how everything works.
So take time before setting off to make sure that you are completely familiar with all your car controls – fog lamps, hazard lights, windscreen demister, child locks etc – so that you are prepared for any unexpected situation.
Plan your route
It is also important that when you set off on a journey, particularly to somewhere unfamiliar, you plan the route you are going to take. It is easy to become totally dependent on a Sat Nav, but to avoid confusion – particularly if there are roadworks or diversions – you also need to have a good idea of the roads you need to take.
So spend time checking your route in advance and make sure you know where you are at all stages of the journey to avoid getting distracted.
Did you know that the three most common causes of road accidents in the UK are:
- Not looking properly before making a manoeuvre.
- Misjudging the direction or speed of another vehicle.
- Driving either too fast or too carelessly.
Driving carefully and keeping constantly alert to other vehicles can prevent a lot of accidents. And sometimes you need to be patient and avoid getting angry or frustrated with what other drivers are doing. It’s better to let things go rather than get worked up or distracted by them and risk an accident.
Be aware of driving and traffic conditions
Always check weather and traffic reports before setting off on a long journey. This enables you to prepare for the journey or perhaps reschedule your trip to another time.
If you do have to drive in difficult or busy conditions, make sure that you drive as carefully as you can and also that you maintain awareness of other drivers so that you are able at all times to protect yourself and others.
We hope that this article helps you to understand what to do in the unfortunate event of a car accident. And how to play your part in preventing accidents happening. So be prepared for the worst but plan for the best.
If you are involved in an accident and you need some financial assistance to get your car back on the road again, remember that Simple Fast Loans offer short term personal loans that may be able to help,
For more financial and lifestyle tips do visit us again here at Simple Fast Loans.