Whether it’s a bang, a thud, a screech or any other noise associated with one solid object abruptly meeting another, there is possibly nothing quite as sickening while driving then that instant when you realise that you’ve crashed your car, or become caught up in another person’s accident. As our roads become increasingly busier, and when coupled with our lacking standard of road network, it’s not rocket science to deduce that the number of collisions is on the rise annually, and as such it is definitely worth your while having a few tips on how to proceed once the worst happens and you’ve been involved in a tip. Before we go any further, it is worth noting that these are solely my own personal opinions on how to deal with a crash situation, and I talk as someone that’s been caught up in all manner of things from roundabout rear-enders to multi-cars and even a rollover (only 1 was really my fault) as well as having assisted on the scene of multiple motorsport crashes.

car crash

The Traffic light Tip

We all know what happens here. You take your eye off the road for a split second, you assume the car in front has pulled off and before you know it you’ve driven clear into the back of another motorist. In most of these situations, speeds are generally tiny as many occur from standstill, so as such damage to both you and the car should be minimal. That being said, an accident has occurred so a procedure that follows must occur, but, and I really need to stress this, people have to be sensible in dealing with these scenarios.

First and foremost, chances are an incident like this has occurred at a busy roundabout or junction, so the last thing everyone else needs is to be stuck in a tailback due to a bumper scrape. Everyone has a phone in their pocket, so I would recommend calmly getting out of the car, once it is safe to do so, take a few quick pictures of the scene, then agree with the other party involved to move to a safer location off the road. This keeps the road clear and is much easier than having people standing in the middle of traffic. If one of the cars is seriously damaged, such as with broken suspension or damaged wheels, get it pushed onto the nearest footpath or the like and out of the way of traffic to avoid creating a blockage.

First and foremost, chances are an incident like this has occurred at a busy roundabout or junction, so the last thing everyone else needs is to be stuck in a tailback due to a bumper scrape. Everyone has a phone in their pocket, so I would recommend calmly getting out of the car, once it is safe to do so, take a few quick pictures of the scene, then agree with the other party involved to move to a safer location off the road. This keeps the road clear and is much easier than having people standing in the middle of traffic. If one of the cars is seriously damaged, such as with broken suspension or damaged wheels, get it pushed onto the nearest footpath or the like and out of the way of traffic to avoid creating a blockage.

Be sensible here again and don’t call the authorities or services unless the accident has left glass or engine fluids on the road. The last thing the authorities  need is to deal with every tip. These issues can be easily dealt with between the parties, and only after the event should you report the accident, along with the evidential pictures you have taken, to your local station as a means of a fall back should any more come of the situation. Agree a version of events between you on the roadside, and always remember that no matter what, if you drive into the back of someone, you are at fault. If you have caused it, be apologetic, don’t come across nasty as this could sour the other party into making a serious claim.As damage in most of these instances is generally minor, I strongly advocate for the person at fault offering to pay for the damage caused, as this shows remorse for the incident, and could in turn save a fortune on Insurance. Every year it appears that premiums are on the increase, but try and renew with a logged claim on your record and watch the numbers skyrocket!

Personal Example: Car parked outside my house was hit by a neighbours after the handbrake was left off when parked. Their car freewheeled all of 15 feet and caught the rear arch and bumper. The other party found their car after it had collided with mine, and was decent enough to call to the door and explain what had happened. Their reaction was to put it through the insurance, but the authorised repair garage quoted nearly €1000 of work. We remained in discussion, and eventually I was quoted €250 from my regular body shop to repair the car, and the other person gladly paid for this work and kept their NCB.

car crash

The Mutli Car Crash

Now things can start to get nasty, both in accident severity, and the minefield of dealing with the aftermath. When one car hits another at speed, the resulting impact naturally launches the impacted car forward. It simple physics. But with busy roads and queues of traffic, chances are that being launched forward suddenly is going to see you planted into the person in front, and so forth as the initial impact dissipates along a chain. These can happen for a variety of reasons, but lack of care or distraction and lack of anticipation of stopped or slowing vehicles ahead are the main culprits here. If you have been involved in a multi-car collision, be it 3 cars or 30, chances are that it’s a very serious situation. The first thing on your mind should be the welfare of those in the car, especially those in the back of the car who will probably have received the largest impact. Once you’re happy that you are ok, get out and check on the others involved. You have to assess the situation quickly as if someone needs help then it’s best to get the call in quickly.

Now, sensibility has to kick in again. Warning oncoming motorists is vital in stopping an incident spiralling into something much bigger. Most of these type of incidents that I have seen occur at roadworks or the like hidden round a bend, meaning oncoming cars have little or no reaction time when they meet a row of stopped cars. Safely get to somewhere that you can flag down oncoming drivers so they can turn on flashers and help slow fellow road users. Maintain this level of care until the appropriate authorities arrive. On that, make sure to call the appropriate services. If one of the cars involved has spilled fluid all over the road, then make sure to include the fire brigade in your request when dialling 999.

Once the authorities are on the scene, they will generally know the correct procedure involved in how to deal with the incident in regards to creating a report, organising the removal of the vehicles and directing traffic. The officers who attend the scene will take your personal details along with your insurance, and they may also have a chat about your version of events so be as honest as you can when recounting the incident. They will generally inform the relevant insurance companies, but you should also do so to arrange a hire car or transport home if needs be. Yet again, the insurance companies deal with countless accidents a year so have an agreed procedure in place to assist you, but multi-car accidents can be tricky at times as it can become an elongated process between various insurers to apportion blame and work out a settlement.

car crash

The Single Vehicle

There is nothing worse than knowing that your mistake has left your car in a bad way, and when there is nobody else involved it’s almost harder to fathom. Getting distracted even for a split second can trigger some big accidents, and knowing you’ve gone off massively while alone can be a scary place to find yourself. As with any other type of collision, the most important thing to do first is check yourself over. Your car may be a mangled wreck, but the single most important thing is your own well-being. If you are in severe pain, remain exactly where you. Any sort of movement could lead to further injury, and medical personnel are highly trained for situations like this. The key is to remain calm, call for help if possible and wait for the services to arrive. Turn off the car if it is still running!

On the flip side, while being in a serious collision is a harrowing event, coming upon the scene as the first person can be truly frightening. It’s no exaggeration that your actions may determine the rest of someone life right at this point. Make sure to put on your flashers to warn other motorist before attending to the scene, as the last thing you want is another crash on your hands. If the person involved is out of the car, get them sat down on a roadside bank away from the accident and in a safe location.Talk to them to make sure everything is ok. Naturally, they are going to be dazed so call the emergency services to the scene right away. If the person is still in the car, be extra vigilant. If the car is still running, try and get your hand inside and kill the ignition so as to avoid all threats of fire. Start talking to the people inside and keep them calm until trained personnel arrive. If someone is trapped in their car or in severe pain, don’t attempt to move them!

Once the serious threat to life is cleared, it’s worth thinking about that your car is in a heap. As with everything, remain conscious of safety when walking or standing on the road. Once the authorities are on the scene, and this is important, request a breath test. This will alleviate any doubt that alcohol played a part in the accident. Once the scene has been assessed and a report made, a recovery truck will take your car away from the scene.

car crash

 

So What Happens With My Car

In the case of a bad smash, chances ae your car is going to be un-driveable and as such the last time you’ll see it for a while will be on the back of a recovery truck. Where your car goes is to one of the closest authorised garages organised by your insurance company. It is here that the car will remain for the next few day while the post-accident procedures take place. The insurers will send out an accessor who will inspect the vehicle, and prepare an estimate on what it will cost to repair the damage. This price is sent onto the insurance company who will choose the next step.

If the estimate for repair is deemed ok by your insurance, which means that they will pay out that value towards having your car back to as it was before the crash. Yet again, here’s another area where the person involved can get confused. You see, the insurance will have your car to garage X who will have agreed the repair price, but that’s not to say you are forced to have the work carried out there. You, as the car owner, are perfectly able to have the work done elsewhere. Most insurance companies, when requested, will pay the value of the original estimate in a cheque, and you are then free to give your business to any independent garage of your choosing, where you might find your money may stretch further!On the other side, and as I found, sometimes the estimated repair is soo high that an insurance company could declare your car written off. A vehicular write off falls into a number of categories (A-D), with the first two (A + B) being classed as that vehicle being too badly damaged to be repaired safely, while the other two are classed as ‘Economic Write Off’s’ where a car is deemed repairable, but at a cost too large for the company to pay out. In these instances, anyone brave enough, or savvy enough, can carry out the repairs themselves, but the car must be inspected by a vehicle engineer before being allowed back onto the road, and will always have a black mark against it no matter how well it is repaired.

But what happens in a case where I want to keep my written off car? When a car is written off, and an agreed value has been reached with the insurance company, they must try and recover costs by placing for sale among a circle of established car breakers and dismantlers. This process is done in private through means of a sealed bid auction. Whoever will pay the most is given the privilege of picking over the carcass of your pride and joy. If an individual wants to retain possession of the car though, they must match the bid of the highest offer, and this is generally deducted from the final settlement figure. Also note, depending on your cover, some insurance companies may charge you with the cost of transport from the scene of the accident and storage.

So in short, once you’ve had a crash, the key is to remain calm, make sure you are all right and allow the relevant authorities to carry out the necessary steps while you relax at home, get all your expletives out and be have a stiff drink to settle the nerves!