6 Helpful Items to Keep in Your Car in Case of an Accident
Each year thousands of new drivers are introduced to our roadways. Unfortunately, a large number of drivers, new and old, continue to have car accidents.
Despite testing and training on how to operate a vehicle, there are still some operators that do not have a clue what to do in case of an accident. While some people believe that the moments following a car wreck are the most important from an injury and insurance standpoint, it is also important to prepare yourself for the possibility of an accident before it even occurs.
The following items are all important to a prepared driver. Each one of them can come into play in the course of an accident. By having the items in your glove compartment or trunk, you can help to minimize the frustration and confusion that often accompany a car wreck.
If you had a car accident today, would you know what to do?
1. Proof of Insurance
In most states, it is already a requirement for a driver to have a copy of his proof of insurance in the automobile. Even for those areas that do not require the document, it is a good idea to keep it in your glove compartment because it contains information you may need in case of an accident.
Most proof of insurance cards have your auto insurance policy number and the contact phone number to your insurance company's claims department on them. Both of these are important because you may need to share the information with the driver of the other vehicle if they plan on making a claim through your insurance company. The responding police officer may also need the information in order to complete his police report.
2. Contact Phone Numbers
In the case of an accident, you want to make sure that you have your important phone numbers readily accessible to you and your passengers. In addition to 911 to contact emergency rescue personnel, you may also want to keep a contact card with phone numbers for the following people or organizations:
- Emergency roadside assistance/tow company
- Your insurance company
- Car rental companies
- Contact info for your closest family or friends
3. Notepad and Pen
While they may seem like simple tools, a notepad and pen can be extremely important in case an accident ever occurs. In many accidents, the driver forgets within a few minutes the exact details of what happened. In order to prevent this, use your pen and paper to jot down important notes.
Some of the information you may want to consider is as follows:
- Name and contact info of the other driver involved
- Driver's license number of the other driver
- License plate number of the other vehicle
- Insurance company and policy number of the other driver
- Details about what happened in the accident (location, events leading up to the accident, damage both vehicles)
- Contact info of any witnesses that saw the accident take place
The pen and paper can also come in handy if you are ever in an accident and have to leave a note behind for the owner of an unattended vehicle.
4. Disposable or Cell Phone Camera
After a car accident takes place, you may want to get photos of the scene of the accident and damages to the vehicles/property involved. You can do this by taking snapshots with your own cell phone, or by keeping a disposable camera in your glove compartment. Good photos can assist insurance claims representatives in getting a better idea of how the accident took place and how badly the vehicles were damaged afterwards.
Having good photos can also prevent disputes and fraud in the following situations:
- They can verify the positions of vehicles in case the cars are moved before the police arrive at the scene of the accident.
- They can verify license plate information in case the driver of the other car tries to drive away immediately following the accident.
- Photos of the damages can isolate the damages due to this accident in case the other driver tries to claim past damages to his car also.
- Photos of the damages can also protect against the auto body shop enhancing damages to the vehicle in order to make more money from your insurance company.
5. First Aid/Survival Kit
It is not out of the ordinary for victims of a car accident to come away with scrapes, bumps and bruises due to broken glass and deployed air bags.When you add in the fact that emergency response vehicles may not get to the scene right away, you want to be sure to have a first aid kit handy. This will enable you to manage any injuries until the ambulance arrives or you are able to get to a hospital later for a check-up.
In addition to the traditional first aid kit, you may also want to consider keeping a survival kit in the trunk of your vehicle. The contents of the kit should be items that will keep you comfortable in case you are involved in a wreck that causes you to have to stay at the scene for a while. Some of the more important items of your survival kit are:
- bottled water and non-perishable food
- fire extinguisher
- road flares
- glass breaking tool
6. Flashlight and Road Flares
Having a car wreck at night can be scary and dangerous. If you ever have an accident after sundown, make sure you not only have a flashlight but also road flares available for use.
The flashlight is a useful tool in case you have to survey the damage to your vehicle without the benefit of having the sun overhead. Without being able to illuminate your vehicle with the flashlight, you may overlook damages and not recognize problems with your vehicle until it is too late.
The road flares are an important safety feature when it comes to nighttime accidents. The first benefit of having the flares is that they can help emergency crews and policemen find out exactly where you are located. Another positive use of flares is to put them around your disabled vehicle in order to prevent other cars from running into it and causing more damage or injury.
If you've never had to use a road flare in the past, make sure that you know beforehand how to light one. The following video will guide you on some safety tips: