Runde’s Crash Course: Post-Crash Safety

It’s something we all fear on the road: getting into an accident. We look for signs of potentially dangerous situations and try to dodge them and avoid injury to ourselves and the people around us. During winter it’s on our minds a bit more: “what if I slide and hit something” or “uh-o, I don’t think my car is going to make it up this hill… what if I start slipping backwards…” As much as you try to be a cautious driver, sometimes it’s impossible to avoid an accident.

Regardless of whether: your car skidded on ice, or you were text messaging and didn’t see that truck in-front of you, or you got hit by someone who doesn’t know the meaning of the word “stop” that appears on the red octagon-shaped thingee … you should always be prepared for the aftermath of an accident.  Would you know what to do if you get into an accident on your way home today?  If not, follow Runde’s accident survival guide and you’ll be a little better off when that accident occurs. Print it off and keep it in your glove box if you want to reference it when you get into an accident. 

And remember:  Being prepared means being ready both mentally and physically.

What Happened??
The first thing to do after the accident occurs is to assess the situation. How bad of an accident is it? Is your car teetering on a median or is it in a safe location? If the vehicle isn’t in such a trouble spot, you should move it (if possible) to a location where no further damage can be done. No matter how big or small the accident is, do not drive away. The law mandates that you stay at the accident scene until authorities are properly contacted. If you try to flee the scene you could end up with a very sizeable traffic ticket or a warrant for your arrest.

Who’s Hurt Where and Why?
The next step is to check all parties in your vehicle for injuries. Make sure your kids and any other passengers are alright.  Identify any injuries. Seriously injured individuals should not be moved unless they are in imminent danger from fire, traffic, raccoon attack etc. Dave, my brother-in-law, witnessed a girl getting his by a truck a couple weeks ago.  The truck fled the scene, and Dave stayed with the girl.  It was raining so Dave picked the girl up and carried her to the back of his van so she wouldn’t get soaked.  He said it seemed like the “gentleman” thing to do at the time.  However, when the paramedics got there, Dave said they made it clear to him that it was the wrong thing to do.  He should have just covered her up with a blanket or his coat and kept her stationary so he wouldn’t have risked  further injury.  

For the most part: If you can get off the road … GET OFF THE ROAD!   Obviously that’s not always feasible.  A couple of years ago, there was an accident on Hwy 35 just out in front our Runde PreDriven store in Hazel Green, WI.  A lady who was diving one of the cars got out of her vehicle and was standing out in the middle of the road in a state of semi-consciousness.  During the accident, she had struck her head and she wasn’t exactly sure where she was.  Al Kloft, one of the salesmen at the PreDriven store, saw the accident occur and went out to guide the lady to safety.  The lady’s injuries turned out to be very minor, but her vehicle was totalled out so the following week she came back to Runde’s and bought a replacement vehicle from Al.   Generally they say that follwing an accident, everyone who is capable of moving should get to a safe location and out of the way of passing traffic. If you are severely injured, call 911 for medical assistance or yell for help if a phone isn’t available.

Time for the “Men” in Blue
Once you know what’s going on, contact the police. They will tell you if their presence is needed at the scene depending on the severity of the incident. Mostly they are needed if the accident involves a hit and run*, if it is apparent that liability will be disputed or if there are injuries.

  • *Note* If the accident was a hit and run, be sure to get as much information of the vehicle and driver that hit you as possible. Police will want, at the very least, the license plate number of the vehicle that hit you. If you can get a good look at the individual driving the vehicle and describe him/her to the police it will make it easier for them to catch and identify the perpetrator.  In the situation I described above, Dave wasn’t able to get the license number or description of the truck that hit the girl.  He had the choice where he could have either chased after the truck in his van, or he could have stopped to help the girl lying in the middle of the crosswalk.  I’d say that Dave made the right choice.

Take Away Emotion
When the police arrive, they will investigate the scene and talk to the individuals involved. When talking to the police, never admit fault. Tell them exactly what happened without saying “it was my fault.” It’s natural to want to say “sorry” to the other people involved in the accident but saying things like that could be construed as admission that you were at fault.  And if you are truely not at fault, this admission could be used against you if the case ever got to court.

The Next Step is like a Warped Spin on Speed Dating
Give and receive names, addresses, and phone numbers with everyoneinvolved in the accident. Get the year, make, model, license plate number, insurance carrier, and insurance policy number of all vehicles involved. If there were any witnesses get their contact information as well.

Set the Record Straight
Get ahold of your insurance company. If there is any vehicular damage or injuries from the accident report the details ASAP to your insurance company, remember never say you were the guilty party, just the facts ma’am.

Become a Photographer
Take pictures. If you have a camera available snap shots of the damage of the vehicles, the accident scene, any injuries incurred and the people involved. If you don’t just happen to have a “Sony 12 mega-pixel Cybershot DSLR Photo Machine Gun” camera on you, remember that most cellphones come with a built-in camera, if you don’t have one ask someone else if they have a phone with a camera. This will serve you well for insurance or court purposes.

Take up Scrapbooking
Remember to document everything that happened as you may be able to get reimbursed for them. If you had to tow your vehicle get the name, location and phone number of the towing company and get a copy of any fees that may incur. Your insurance company may require you to select a pre-approved body shop to repair your vehicle, so record all fees charged.

Preparation is the Recipe for Survival
It’s easy for us to say be prepared for an accident, but it’s not something that most people think about on a regular basis. However, there are steps you can take so that you’ll be ready for almost anything that lifes throws at you as you travel down that ramblin’ road. Make sure that your hazzard (flashers, 4-ways, etc.) lights are in working order. Try to check them about once every 6 months — it only takes 20 seconds to walk around your car. If you don’t have a car-charger for your cell phone, then make sure that your phone is fully charged before you set out. If your planning a longer trip in the winter or late at night, make sure that your car is stocked with a few blankets, a working flashlight, and road flares. And if you’re travelling alone, try to make sure that someone (a relative or a friend) is aware that your in transit. I think it’s pretty much a universal given that friends and relatives (moms especially) like to call us to make sure that our destination was safely reached.

Remember to take care of yourself and your family. No matter what happens in an accident, life goes on, the best thing you can do is try to learn how to avoid future accidents from happening and teach what you learn to ones you love.

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