Preparing for a Car Accident

November 3, 2007

By Dan Coulter

I learned the value of the motto "Be Prepared" when I was a Boy Scout.

 

While you can't prepare for everything, you can anticipate likely events and plan for them, such as being in a car accident.

 

Car accidents are a concern for parents of children with Asperger Syndrome.

 

My wife and I frequently get asked by parents if our 24 year old son, Drew, who has Asperger Syndrome, drives. Yes. And he's a careful driver. So careful that he once spent a second too long looking down to make sure he was doing exactly the speed limit, and couldn't stop in time when the driver in front of him slammed on her brakes. There was bumper damage on each car, but no one was hurt. Since then, Drew has adapted his glance-down time.

 

Recently, Drew has been involved with two other accidents that were not his fault. Both were minor and no one was hurt. His first two "accident experiences" helped him learn the procedure for dealing with such situations. He was a lot more calm and confident dealing with the third incident.

 

Anyone can be shaken by a car accident, even a minor fender-bender. For some people, the aftermath of dealing with the other driver, witnesses and the police may seem more overwhelming than the collision.

 

After Drew's first fender-bender, I customized a "post accident checklist" and put copies in our family cars. I recommend everyone keep such a checklist, and go over what to do in case of an accident with every driver in the family.

 

Statistics tell us that even careful drivers risk having an accident sooner or later. Some accidents are unavoidable. Drew had one driver scrape his back bumper while he was stopped at a traffic light, and another suddenly pull into his path from a driveway.

 

Picture how each driver in your family would be likely to respond after an accident. Wouldn't it give you more peace of mind to provide them with some written instructions and maybe hold a practice session walking through what to do? You might even arrange for a police officer to talk with your son or daughter and explain what to expect.

 

Your car insurance agent can probably supply you with a "If You Have An Accident" checklist that you can personalize based on your family members' needs. Many insurance companies post such checklists on their websites.

 

At the end of this article, I've included a simple version of the accident checklist we keep in our cars, minus our personal information. This works for us. You need to determine what will work for you, based on your situation and your state and local laws. I'd recommend filling in your personal information beforehand and printing several copies. Also, you might want to put the documents in a three ring binder or on a clipboard so the driver has a portable writing surface -- and attach a pen.

 

I was able to be on the scene quickly after the most recent incident, where the car pulled out in front of Drew. While I was initially relieved to learn that no one was hurt, I felt a second wave of relief to see Drew dealing calmly and confidently with the other driver and the police.

 

This is the way you want your family member to be able to deal with this situation. Trust me.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dan Coulter produces videos about Asperger Syndrome and autism. His latest release is, "Understanding Brother and Sisters with Asperger Syndrome." You can find more articles on his website at: coultervideo.com

 

Copyright 2007   All Rights Reserved    Used By Permission

 

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WHAT TO DO AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT

 

1 __ IF ANYONE IS SERIOUSLY HURT, CALL 911 AND SUMMON HELP.

 

2 __ CALL YOUR PARENTS.

 

Home: ________________________

 

Work: ________________________

 

Dad cell: ____________________

 

Mom Cell _____________________

 

3 __ CALL THE POLICE. If there is damage to the cars involved, call and report the accident to the police. Be ready to tell the police where you are. Look on a nearby building for a street address or look for the names of the two streets at a nearby intersection. Stay at the accident scene until the police arrive.

 

Police Phone Number: ________________________

 

4 ___ EXCHANGE INFORMATION WITH THE OTHER DRIVER OR DRIVERS INVOLVED.

 

(See attached sheets).

 

A. SHARE WRITTEN INFORMATION: Give him or her your name, address, phone number, car license number, car registration number, insurance company name and insurance policy number; and get the same information from him or her. It's best to have your information printed out and ready beforehand.

 

B. DON'T COMMENT: Do not tell the other driver if you think the accident was your fault or his fault.

 

C. DON'T ARGUE: If the other driver is uncooperative or attempts to argue with you, don't argue, just write down the license number of his car and wait for the police.

 

5 ___ COOPERATE WITH THE POLICE.

 

Stay calm. When the police arrive, follow their directions and answer their questions. Have your driver's license and registration ready for them.

 

When they ask, describe what happened briefly and clearly. Don't talk about things not directly connected to the accident. The police officer should give you a copy of his preliminary report, with the other driver's contact and insurance information, before the officer leaves the scene.

 

4 __ IF YOU CAN'T REACH YOUR PARENTS, CALL YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY.

 

Insurance Company Name _______________________________

 

Insurance Policy Number: ____________________

 

Business Hours Phone: _________________________

 

After Business Hours Phone: ____________________

 

6 __ NOTE: Car registration and insurance card information are in an envelope in the car's glove compartment.

 

*******************************************************************************************

 

INFORMATION TO COLLECT FOR YOURSELF (Use more than one form if multiple other vehicles were involved.)

 

Other driver's information:

 

Name: ___________________________________________

 

Address: ____________________________________

 

City: _________________________ State: ____________ Zip Code: ________

 

Phone # s: _________________________________________________________

 

Vehicle license #: ___________________________________

 

Vehicle registration #: __________________________________________

 

Make, model and year of other vehicle: _______________________________________

 

Insurance company name: _____________________________________

 

Insurance policy #: ___________________________________________

 

Time of accident: _____________________

 

Date of accident: _____________________

 

Location of accident: (Near corner of two streets? Address of nearby building?)

 

____________________________________________________________________________

 

____________________________________________________________________________

 

____________________________________________________________________________

 

Describe damage to each car:

 

____________________________________________________________________________

 

____________________________________________________________________________

 

____________________________________________________________________________

 

____________________________________________________________________________

 

Names and phone numbers of witnesses, if any:

 

____________________________________________________________________________

 

____________________________________________________________________________

 

***********************************************************************************************

 

(New Page)

 

INFORMATION TO GIVE OTHER DRIVER

 

Your Name: _________________________________ Your Address: ___________________________________________

 

Your Phone Number: ____________________________________________

 

Your car's year, make, model, car license number:

 

_______________________________________________________________

 

Your car's registration number:_________________________________________

 

Your Insurance information:

 

Insurance Company Name: ____________________________

 

Policy # ___________________________________

 

Phone: ____________________________________

 

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