What to do After a Collision

What to do After a Collision

A bumper of a car after it was in a collision
Stay Calm After a Collision and Follow These Tips
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All Regions
Elizabeth Carey

Imagine that you’re driving down the road and suddenly, without warning, you lose control on slippery pavement and slide off the road after striking a guardrail. Your first instinct might be to immediately jump out of the vehicle and assess the damage, but that would be a dangerous mistake, according to the New York State Police.

“If you slide off the road and get out of the vehicle, the next car could do the very same thing and you could be struck,” says New York State Police Trooper James O’Callaghan, public information officer for Troop A. “Instead, remain inside the vehicle and call 9-1-1. And always keep your seat belt on in case someone does strike your vehicle.”

The only time a driver should exit the vehicle is if the car is on fire or if smoke is visible. Then, O’Callaghan says, you exit, “for obvious reasons.”

“This advice is extremely important,” says Brent Dahlhaus, safety manager at AAA Western and Central New York. “So often, drivers panic after a crash and can make poor decisions that may put them at risk. It’s best to be prepared and know what to do before a crash takes place.”

When two vehicles are involved, State Police recommend calling 9-1-1 immediately. “Make sure you document the incident with law enforcement,” O’Callaghan advises. “You don’t know if the other person has a license or insurance, and even if damage doesn’t look bad, you should always get a police report, especially for damage over $1,000.”

This fall, drivers should be especially aware of wildlife on the roads. “You’re more likely to strike a deer or collide with an animal in October or November than any other time of year,” says O’Callaghan.

After an animal collision, try to remain calm and immediately pull the car over onto the shoulder. Turn the car’s fourway hazard lights on, keep your seat belt on, and call 9-1-1. “Don’t worry about moving the animal off the road,” says O’Callaghan. “You don’t want to get struck. Crews will remove the animal. Stay seat-belted. And again, file a police report for damages.”

New York State Police also remind drivers to pack a safety kit in their vehicles before the snow flies. And if you do come upon a crash, look out for safety response vehicles and remember to always Slow Down, Move Over – it’s the law.

AAA Emergency Roadside Assistance is available 24/7, but always follow police advice and call 9-1-1 immediately after a collision.

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