Accidents can happen to anyone
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It doesn’t matter whether you’re a novice on your learner’s licence or a driver with 30 years’ experience, anyone can be involved in a crash. Even the likes of ex Top Gear host and driver Richard Hammond, who found a way to write off an electric supercar worth £2 million (NZ$3.5m).
According to the latest AA Insurance driver safety survey, two-thirds of New Zealanders have been in a car crash in their lifetime. The majority of these (66 per cent) occur between the ages of 15-29.
Being in a car crash, no matter how serious, is a frightening experience. In the event of a crash, it’s important to remember the basics to prevent an already tricky situation getting much worse.
Safety of occupants is paramount
After an accident, your first priority is to check whether anyone is injured and requires assistance. Don’t move anyone unless they’re in immediate danger or require first aid. Call the police/ambulance if people have been injured, or *555 if it’s not an emergency.
Turn on your hazard lights as well as your headlights so other motorists can see you’re experiencing an issue. If your vehicle is able to be moved, move it out of the way of traffic.
When another car crashes into yours, you’re likely to be shaken up. Reaching for a pen and paper is probably the last thing on your mind. However, if you can manage to write down some detailed notes about what happened in the accident, it will create a much more accurate record of the events than if you rely on memory alone.
Swap details with other driver(s), including name, address, contact number, insurer, registration number, vehicle colour, make and model.
Don’t forget to seek eye witness’ details too, as they often hold key information that can be helpful in a dispute.
Pictures can tell crucial details
It’s pretty safe to say that in these modern times, most of us have a mobile phone capable of taking photos. Take some photos of the location, the accident damage, the orientation of the vehicles on the road and even photos of other relevant information such as number plates and driver licences.
Fancy a sketch?
You don’t need to be Michelangelo to draw up a quick sketch of the accident. Do this while the event is fresh in your memory as you might be asked to recall this information from the police or insurance companies.
Pick up the phone
Get on the phone to your insurance company. Remember it will rely on the evidence and description you have produced to determine liability. In many cases it can be a complex scenario.
When there are multiple vehicles involved it can get a little tricky determining who’s liable for what.
Light bumps and grazes
A frequent but less serious crash is the classic nose-to-tail. These accidents occur every day in all parts of the country but are more common in high traffic areas.
If you find yourself in this unlucky situation, move off the road as soon as possible if it’s safe for you to do so, you don’t want to be “that car” holding up the motorway for half an hour.
As in a larger-scale collision, take some notes and photos to ensure you have all of the facts covered and if there is a witness, it might pay to record their name and number in case you run into any insurance obstacles.
This kind of accident can often cause other drivers to be distracted and slow traffic and even collide themselves. Just the presence of two mildly damaged vehicles on the side of the road will cause rubberneckers to slow down to gawk at the scene.
Until the roads are flooded with autonomous vehicles, it’s safe to say crashes will continue.
The important thing to do in any accident is to remain calm to reduce the chance of further incident.