There are few things more frightening than being in a car accident – and there are also few things more dangerous. That’s why it’s vital that each of us strive to drive as safely as possible. It’s also why we should each know what to do if we are ever in one.
How to avoid Car Accidents
There’s no foolproof way to avoid car accidents, because we can’t control what other drivers on the road do. But there are a few things that we can each do to lower our own personal risk.
- Drive defensively. The light is green, and you’re trying to make it. You see a car on the right side of the intersection inch forward. Is he about to go right on red? If he does, he’ll cut you off. You have the choice between assuming he’ll do the right thing and assuming he’ll cut you off. If you slow down, you may miss the light, or he may try to dart in front of you after all, slowing you down even further. But if you go at full speed and he makes a mistake, you’ll be in an accident. Defensive driving is about choosing to be safely suspicious of other drivers’ intentions and competency. It’s about electing to take small delays rather than small risks. And it can keep you safe.
- Take a course. Driver’s education courses aren’t just for teenagers. You can take defensive driving courses and other types of driver’s education courses throughout your life. They’ll help you learn safety tips and can even lower your insurance premiums or take points off of your license (in some states).
- Don’t drive while drunk or high. This is an obvious rule, but one of the single most important ones. If you are drunk or high – or even just “tipsy” – do not drive. Call a cab or a car service instead.
- Don’t drive tired or distracted. It’s easy to pinpoint drunk driving and driving while texting as bad things to do, because they’re widespread problems that have caused notorious incidents and led to new laws. But they aren’t dangerous because of some magic properties about those particular things: drunk driving is dangerous because it impairs your reaction time, eyesight, and other key abilities. Texting while driving is dangerous because it takes your eyes off the road. You can replicate these same dangers with legal activities like driving tired or fiddling with the radio or trying to pull your fries out of your McDonald’s bag. Don’t! Get a car service for your early-morning trip to the airport, and arrange your McDonald’s meal (or better yet, eat and finish it) in the parking lot rather than on the highway.
What to do if you’re in an Accident
No matter how careful you are, you may find yourself in an accident. Here’s what to do.
- Assess the situation. Are you hurt? Is anyone hurt? Do not try to move injured parties unless they are in clear and immediate danger.
- Call the police. If there is significant damage, two or more cars involved, or anyone hurt, call the police. When in doubt, call the police.
- Deal with your insurance. For accidents both mild and severe, you’ll end up dealing with your insurance company. Let them deal with the other guy’s insurance.
- Get the care you need. Doctors are experts. Trust them! Accident recovery centers and other specialized institutions will be able to treat everything from broken bones to whiplash.
- If necessary, get legal help. For severe accidents, you may want to get an attorney right away. In other cases, you may want to wait until you see what your insurance, the other guy’s insurance, and the other guy himself are offering. If you feel you’re not being properly taken care of, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and get a lawyer! If the accident was not your fault, it shouldn’t hurt you financially.
Car accidents are never fun, but they are often preventable. If you know how to best avoid accidents and how to behave if you get in one anyway, you won’t have to worry when you get behind the wheel.