Winter is just around the corner and with it comes the blizzards and slippery roads that increase the number of car accidents. No one ever wants to be involved in an accident but for those who are, the decisions and actions you take immediately following that fateful meeting of metal could be important to your safety and wallet.
Collisions happen every day around the city, sometimes just blocks from your home, causing a lot of stress and confusion. Knowing what to do can lessen the effects and alleviate a lot of that stress.
The word “accident” isn’t really an accurate term for a collision, since 90 per cent of all incidents are preventable and are either caused by driver error, speed or drivers failing to adjust for poor driving conditions, according to Olaf Heinzel, spokesperson for Waterloo Regional Police.
“The first thing people should be concerned with is their safety, if they are injured or a passenger in their vehicle is injured, call 911 immediately, so that help can be dispatched as soon as possible,” said Heinzel.
Drivers should notify police if damage to their vehicle is over $1,000. If drivers aren’t sure whether they need police assistance, call the dispatch centre and explain your situation and they can advise you on what you should do.
If it’s safe to do so, move your vehicle over to the side of the road, turn on your hazard lights, and regardless of the circumstances never admit fault for the collision or assign blame to the other driver. Never sign anything regarding fault or make any promises to pay for damages.
Once you are safe and the vehicles are not causing any problems to traffic record all the details of the collision, including the time, date and location, speed of you vehicle, weather and road conditions. Draw a little sketch of the collision showing position of the vehicles, traffic lights, etc.
If your cellphone has a camera take pictures of the scene.
Insure that you have exchanged information with the other parties and if there are witnesses get their names and phone numbers. Don’t ever drive away without that information.
Silvana Aceto, spokesperson for CAA South Central Ontario, said that an accident must be reported to a collision centre witin 24 hours if damage is greater than $1,000, the police were not present at the scene or if damage is minor and you can drive it to the collision centre.
“If you are insured with CAA Insurance we will arrange for the pick-up and towing of your vehicle from the collision reporting centre to a repair facilty,” said Aceto.
According to Tim Bzowey, vice-president of Home and Auto, RBC Insurance, drivers should also call their insurance company right away, so a trained insurance professional handle the accident claim.
“Being in a car accident is an unnerving experience so it’s easy to lose focus in the moments afterward. However, if prepared, drivers can avoid making harmful and expensive decisions immediately following a collision,” he said.
Bzowey also said drivers should authorize repairs immediately. Insurance adjustors can refer drivers to a repair facility where the repair comes with a guarantee, don’t just go to the cheapest auto body you can find – they are usually cheap for a reason.
Waterloo Regional Police offer a complete downloadable and printable pamphlet that drivers can carry in their glove box and that guides a driver step by step immediately following a collision. It as well as some other handy information can be found on their website at http://www.wrps.on.ca/traffic-road-safety/collision-reporting .
Above all, drive carefully and always pay attention to your surroundings. Also, allow plenty of time to arrive at your destination, and never ever talk on your cellphone while driving.