Teach Your Children What to Do If They're in a Car Accident
Coming back from a listing photo session today, in heavy stop-and-go highway traffic, I had an unexpected interaction. A young and sweet 17-year-old in a very large Lincoln Navigator rear-ended me.
This poor girl was crying by the time I got back to see her. She told me she'd never been in an accident and didn't know what to do.
Well, this almost 60-year old knows the ropes!
No one was hurt. And that is one of the first most important items on a checklist of what to do if your young driver is in an accident.
Check and see if anyone is hurt. That is the first thing to take care of IF someone is injured. Stay put, call 911.
After we got the particulars taken care of and drove off 20 minutes later, I got to thinking later, that every parent needs to teach their young drivers about the checklist of information they need to garner before (hopefully) driving away from an accident that they've been involved in.
Since most people get emotional or go into a bit of shock after an accident it is good to have something concrete, some form of checklist that they can adhere to.
So, here's my quick checklist that I think every young driver (or maybe even older) ought to have in their glove compartment:
1. Get the driver's license number and full name-you might even look at the expiration date just to be sure it's current.
2. Exchange insurance information including policy number and when the policy expires (they had it only til 4/15, but just hadn't put the new one in their vehicle), and name of the insurance company and the name of the person(s) on the policy. Also get the phone number of the insurance company which should be on the insurance card and even the name/phone number of the agent if possible . I showed her mine and she took a photo of it with her iphone.
3. Get vehicle information including, make/model and license plate.
4. Driver's contact information: phone number(s), e-mail address, home address.
5. Note where/when the accident took place to the best of your ability. The more thorough you are the better/quicker the solution for the insurance company/companies to take care of.
6. As soon as you can, write down any recollection of how the accident occurred and what the other driver said happened according to them while it is fresh in everyone's mind.
7. If possible, take photos of any damage to both vehicles or any other vehicles that were involved.
8. If someone was a witness, get their information, too. (name, phone number, e-mail address). Write down what they saw or their version of what happened.
9. Call your insurance company right away so that you go on record reporting the accident, even if you weren't at fault.
10. Call the other insurance company, too and give them your version of what happened.
Mine was pretty cut&dry as she rear-ended me when I was stopped in front of her. I asked her if she was on her phone. She said no. (That might be a good question to ask). She said that she didn't really know what happened as she doesn't usually drive her Mom's car and the brake system is different. She was so upset, I told her hey, we weren't hurt. Cars can be fixed or replaced. I calmed her down and took over in getting the valuable exchange of information taken care of. I happened to have had my cameras in my truck, so I took a variety of photos, just in case. I called my insurance company, even though I knew it was her fault, as I wanted a record of the incident just in case they had no insurance. Then I contacted her local agency, and since it was an automated message, I took down the 800# they gave me and I called that right away.
Within a couple of hours, I have a Claim#, they agreed that they are responsible and they are readily contacting me with bodyshops that they work with to seamlessly get through the process of having my vehicle fixed. All of this in less than 3 hours' time!
When I spoke with the customer service person with this young lady's insurance company, I mentioned that I was going to write a blog about this and he told me that he actually had a claimant, a young person whose dad got on the phone right away and they went through the process together so that the young person knew how it worked and he wasn't alone, so I'm sure it eased some of his angst. Very smart!
It's difficult when anyone goes through a car accident, but if they have a checklist in their glove compartment along with their vehicle information, then if they go into shock and aren't clear about what to do, they have something concrete that they can follow which will undoubtedly help to get them focused. It might be good to have a notepad in the glove compartment with a pen, so they don't have to fumble around to find something to write on.
Just as you help them practice their driving skills, this is also an important part of being a responsible driver that needs to be practiced as well. That way, if something should happen they know what to do!