Traffic accidents are common, there’s no two ways about it. Even the most seasoned driver, the ones who practice defensive driving to the highest order, can fall victim to a fender bender. Reasons for an accident are plentiful. It could be from a driver trying to beat a red light. Or someone whose attention is elsewhere (texting, eating, daydreaming, etc.). Or it could be a case of poor weather conditions wreaking havoc on the road and compromising even the safest driver.
And if that day comes, both drivers must take the necessary steps, gather the appropriate information and move on towards getting their car looking like new again.
Here are some basic steps:
- Check On Each Other: The safety of you and every other party involved in the accident is priority number one. Not too much of a surprise here. Compose yourself and don’t let emotions seep in about the damage to your vehicle and worry more about each other’s overall safety.
- Notify Proper Authorities: Call upon the police for assistance with helping out with any injuries that might have stemmed from the accident and for legal reasons to determine who’s at fault and file the beginnings of a substantial police report. Make sure to not discuss between you and the driver about who’s fault it is and let the police decide.
- Put Out Hazard Signs: Whether the accident took place on a busy stretch of the highway or happened on a quiet neighborhood street, it’s always good to set out any road flares or reflectors to signal to other drivers around of the accident. In which case, it’s not a bad idea to have emergency flares/signs stored inside the trunk.
- Exchange Information: Once you’ve got a hold of the scene and determined any injuries, you must exchange the necessary criteria with the other party. Make sure to get the other person’s insurance information and other vital contact information to share with your insurance agency down the way.
- Take Photos: Make sure to take pictures of the damage to your car as well as the other driver’s vehicle. Also, try and get a few pictures of the surrounding area in case you need tire screech marks or weather conditions to help solidify the case. If you don’t have a camera phone for doing so, try keeping a disposable camera in your glove box specifically for this.
- Determine Whether You Need A Tow: In most cases, the police officer on the scene will be the final say in determining whether your car is safe enough to drive off. If not, call up your insurance company and see whether you’re covered for a tow, and even if you’re not, make sure to have the towing company not just pick up your car, but also signify which mechanic or body shop to have it sent to.
And that’s just a basic summary of what to do when involved in an accident. Sure, there are more intricate legal matters in between these tips, but that’s more of a secondary issue for later on down the road. What’s important is that you’re prepared, safe and looking more towards how quickly you can get your car back in line and out on the road again.
For more information on what to do, visit and review these accident safety FAQs where you can obtain a PDF Glovebox Guide.
Kyle O’Brien is a freelance writer covering a wide range of topics on the automotive industry and has consulted for a local KC collision repair service and writes about driving distractions, driver safety tips and so forth.