Everybody wants to avoid getting into a car accident, whether it’s just a small fender-bender or a multi-car pileup. No one likes the stress of dealing with the police or insurance companies, wondering if your premium will jump up. But accidents happen, and it’s important to be helpful and polite to ensure that everyone involved is safe. Even if the accident amounts to a minor bump or scrape, following proper etiquette will reduce stress for both parties. Here are five etiquette tips to follow after getting into an accident.
The first thing you should always do is check for injuries. Yes, you’re worried about the condition of your vehicle and how much damage it has, but your car can wait. You can’t. The safety of the drivers and passengers comes first. Before you check on the passengers of the other car, make sure you’re physically able to exit the vehicle; if your injuries are serious enough, you don’t want to worsen them.
Whether you need to move your vehicle depends on your state’s laws surrounding accidents. Even if you aren’t legally required to move your car, it’s helpful to do so, as leaving the vehicle on the road can impede traffic and cause a driving hazard, though if emergency vehicles are on the way, you might want to wait until they arrive so they can process the scene. If you can’t or aren’t required to move your car, remember to turn on the hazard lights to alert other drivers.
Another key point of accident etiquette is to exchange info with the other driver once you’ve checked if everyone is safe. It’s required by law that you provide the other driver with your name, contact info and vehicle registration, and that they do the same. The driver at-fault, if the police find fault in the accident, should also provide the insurance information, so the other driver can make a claim and get their car fixed, if necessary.
If anyone is injured or if there’s noticeable damage to either vehicle, call 9-1-1. Tell the operator the extent of the injuries and your location. This way, they’ll be able to alert the hospital to get an ambulance over, if the injuries are severe enough. If no one was injured, report the accident and they’ll send local police over as soon as possible to get a report of the accident.
Most importantly, be polite to the other driver! Regardless of whose fault it is, the accident is stressful for them just as it is for you. Be simple and direct but polite as well during the information exchange to avoid making their life harder.
By following these etiquette rules for any accident, be it car, motorcycle or truck, you can help reduce stress for both yourself, the other driver, and any passengers. Always remember to check on your condition and others’ first, as safety is paramount, and in addition, try to remain calm and polite to keep the exchange going smoothly.