WASHINGTON, DC -- Is there such a thing as being prepared for an auto accident?
You can be prepared by tucking this Call For Action handy checklist in your glove compartment to be used if needed and by carrying essential equipment in your car. Our Gannett news partners at WUSA and their Call For Action volunteers put together these resources.
Are there procedures you should follow?
If there are no bodily injuries, most police departments indicate that both vehicles should be moved out of the roadway to protect the safety of the drivers and passengers as well as to allow the flow of traffic. Report the accident to the police and exchange pertinent information such as drivers license number, insurance information, address, phone numbers, etc. with the other driver.
Some experts recommend that you report the accident and stay at the scene until the police arrive, otherwise you may be cited for leaving the scene of a collision. However, if the police indicate they will not be at the site it is okay to leave after exchanging information with the other driver.
In the case of bodily injuries, the first thing that should be done is to call 911 and request help. Do not attempt to move the vehicles as there may be an accident investigation after the police arrive. Generally, in the case of injuries, the police will file a collision report.
What else should you do?
Most insurance companies advise customers to call them right away even if it is a minor incident. Other good advice is to sign documents only for the police or the insurance company and do not state the incident was your fault. If you have a camera or cell phone, use it to take pictures of the scene, the damage, etc. In addition, if there were witnesses make sure you get their information and in the case of bodily injury that they remain on the scene until the police arrive.
Will police issue citations or investigate the collision?
It depends on the severity of the incident and if a traffic violation can be substantiated by witnesses, the investigation, or the officer's observation of the violation. Generally, the police will complete a report if there is a personal injury, the vehicle cannot be moved or if a driver is intoxicated, unlicensed, or leaves the scene. Some police jurisdictions will come to the scene regardless of the severity of the collision.
What to carry in your vehicle:
Vehicle registration card and insurance information
Pencil and paper
Disposable camera (or you can use your cell phone for pictures)
First aid kit
A list of medicines as well as any allergies you have
Flares or traffic cones (A word of caution with flares, do not use them if there is the possibility of a gasoline spill at the site)
What to do when in an accident:
Check for bodily injuries
Call 911 to report accident to police and ask for medical assistance if needed
Move vehicles out of traffic and to a safe location if there are no bodily injuries and vehicles are moveable
Call your insurance company
Do not admit fault
Exchange information with the other driver including: name, address, phone number, car registration number, make, year and color of vehicle , license plate number, insurance company name and policy number
Remain at the scene until the police arrive, you can leave if they have indicated they will not come to scene and you have all pertinent information from the other driver
Get contact information from any witnesses as well as a list of occupants of both cars
Take pictures of the scene and damage to both vehicles
Get the number of the police report, if one is issued