Top 10 auto accident tips

MERIDEN, Conn.—According to the National Safety Council, approximately 1 in 8 drivers will be in an auto accident this year.

Ray Palermo, director of Public Relations for Response Insurance, a national car insurer, offered several suggestions to help prevent injury, save time and money, and minimize the stress involved in a car crash.

Tip 1—Stay calm. Avoid tendencies toward “road rage” and stay calm if you encounter another driver who is behaving irrationally. When these situations escalate, they can often lead to dangerous driving and crashes. There is no slight, vulgar gesture or foolish behavior that is worth endangering your life, your car and the lives of others.

Tip 2—Protect yourself. Be alert to traffic scams that seem like “accidents,” such as when driving on a lightly-traveled road, particularly at night, and being tapped from behind. Predatory criminals do this to get the driver to exit the car and then either rob the driver or steal the car. If you are suspicious of the circumstances, stay in your vehicle and drive to a police station or heavily-populated area for assistance.

Tip 3—STOP! If you are in an accident, do not leave the scene until you have spoken with the other driver or the police.

Tip 4—Take steps to prevent further accidents. If practical, move the car and all passengers safely to the side of the road—preferably to the right shoulder. If functioning, turn your emergency flashing lights on and, if available, set out a flare on the road for nighttime accidents.

Tip 5—Call the police from the scene or ask someone to call for you. It is usually best to have the police address any traffic infractions, assist with injuries and memorialize the occurrence for the record.

Tip 6—Request medical assistance if needed. If you or others are bleeding, feel light-headed or are suffering any physical injury, always err on the side of calling for assistance. Unless trained in emergency medical assistance, do not attempt to move injured people or perform medical procedures yourself.

Tip 7—Do not admit fault or discuss the accident with anyone except for the police or your auto insurance company. And remember to call your insurance company as soon as possible.

Tip 8—Write down pertinent information such as the other driver’s name, addresses, telephone number, license plate and driver’s license number and the time of the accident. Note the names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses, the badge number of any police officers and where to obtain a copy of a police report and any other pertinent information about the scene, such as exact location, the issuance of any tickets by the police, and any recollections about your vehicle’s handling or mechanical functioning just prior to the accident.

Tip 9—Carry an emergency kit in your car that should minimally include: a road flare or traffic triangle, brightly-colored cloth to tie to your radio antenna and driver side-door handle, a flashlight with fully-charged batteries, a first aid kit, a basic tool kit with duct tape and a pen and paper. Always have a copy of your insurance company ID card in your glove compartment and have with you, your driver’s license and car registration.

Tip 10—Assist others. If you come upon an auto accident that you are not a party to and wish to offer assistance, pull your car off the road ahead of the accident scene. Do not park in back of the accident, which will only make your vehicle vulnerable to oncoming traffic and block the view of emergency or police vehicles looking for the scene. When arriving at the scene of an accident, first determine if there are any injuries. If there are, immediately call for medical assistance. Unless trained in emergency medical assistance, do not attempt to move injured people or perform medical procedures yourself.

from the Aug 1-7, 2007, issue

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