By: Hannah McVey
Did you know that car accidents are the number one cause of death among new drivers 16-19 years old? You can help change this statistic.
Although one person’s choices may seem small, that one person may wear off on someone around them and then that person may wear off on someone else and then you have suddenly stretched out to reach hundreds and thousands of people.
Of course, it’s terrifying to see one of these statistics come to life. Often times our generation comes out of high school with at least one person they knew dead from a car accident. However, there are some ways that you can make sure that one person isn’t you:
- Don’t text and drive. We all hear it over and over but just one moment of distraction could cause an accident. Even if it is because of someone else’s careless driving, your being distracted could take away that crucial moment you needed to react and avoid an accident.
- Don’t drive across the lines marking parking spots in a parking lot. Stick to the marked path of travel and don’t speed. The most common place to get in a wreck is in a parking lot. There is always the risk that you will come out of a parking spot and get hit, even if you’re looking. But it would still seem like the safest place, right? Wrong. You never know who will suddenly go 60 mph across the lot because it’s fairly empty.
- Keep the radio turned down enough that you will be able to hear emergency vehicles. Believe it or not, you aren’t a superhero. There is no guarantee that you will see the lights in the mirror every time. Especially if you’re trying to multitask and drive.
- It is best to always stay focused on the road when you’re driving but if you are doing something with your phone or the radio while stopped at a stop light and see the traffic on your left begin to move: look up to see if you have a green light before moving. Don’t just assume you have one!
- Do not put on your make-up in the car. Either put it on before you get into the car or after you arrive at your destination. If you have a mirror down in front of your face it is difficult, if not impossible, to see the road well.
- Figure out how much you are capable of doing while you drive. If talking takes away your focus when you’re driving: it is okay to ask your friend in the car with you not to talk to you while you drive. If they argue, you can always tell them to find another ride because YOU want to stay alive.
- Don’t assume you are going to be capable of talking on the phone while you drive, especially if you have to hold the phone in your hand. It is never a good idea to have your hands off the wheel if driving isn’t second nature to you.
- Don’t allow your friends to distract you while you drive. If they succeed, you could end up in an accident.
Though no one wants to be in an accident, you have to be prepared if you ever are in one. It is very easy to react out of panic or shock but when in an accident you will have to push through it and clear your thoughts.
Things to remember:
- Remain calm.
- Check on the condition of your own body and, if others are in the car with you, theirs’. Your health is what matters. Don’t worry about your car until you have worried about yourself.
- Do not exit your vehicle into a busy location, unless it is safe to do so.
Call the police and, if you are able, get the license plate number of the other person in the accident. Exchange insurance information with the other driver but don’t argue with them or try to prove fault at the accident scene.
- Wait and provide a statement to the police. No matter how minor the collision seems, you need to wait for a police report to be written or you might be cheated out of insurance money. Never drive off: not out of panic and not even if the other person does. You could end up losing your license.
- Know that just because you aren’t in pain doesn’t mean you aren’t hurt. It is in your best interest to allow someone to examine you, just in case.
- Soft tissue injuries: whiplash, back pain, and bruising for example, often don’t show any signs at the time of the injury. Take it easy for a few days to see if you have any unexplained pain.
- Do not hesitate to receive medical care, be it going to the Emergency Room at the time of the injury or seeing a specialist after the injury. Not everything will simply go away over time; especially if you are in no position to take it easy for a while. If you find you hurt after the accident, at least have it checked out to be certain it isn’t long term damage.
- Consider hiring a lawyer to help you with the claim process.
- Call the at-fault driver’s insurance company to open a claim, but don’t give a recorded statement if you plan to hire a lawyer. Let the lawyer handle how the insurance company gets information.
- Don’t accept a quick payout! Many insurance companies offer a quick $500 payout to release all claims against the other driver. This is almost never a good idea. Talk to a professional about what your claim is worth- Take into consideration whether you were injured, what your medical bills will be, how long it will take you to recover and the things you won’t be able to do.
When you’re young and broke, one of the huge concerns is how an accident will affect your insurance rates. Obviously, if you are at fault they will go up. But what if you’re not at fault? In Arizona, insurance companies can’t raise your rates for being in an accident that wasn’t your fault.