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Just in case: what to do if you get in a traffic accident

Many have heard about how to drive safely to avoid accidents, but all too often people are unaware that the choices they make after an accident actually occurs can have an enormous impact on their future safety and financial well-being.

There are many ways in which drivers can put themselves in danger after having an accident, but most of these hazards are easily avoidable. For one, it is important to never get out of the car on the freeway unless absolutely necessary.

About a year ago, my mother was in a car accident on the freeway and decided to get out of the car. Another car then hit the car that initially had hit her, pushing it into her body.

“I got out of the car on the freeway, and another driver lost control of his car and it crashed into the first car that hit me,” she said. “The first car then crashed into me again. I was fully aware that I was being pushed by the car while it was happening. It was horrible.”

Luckily, she turned out to be okay, but the event could have been avoided altogether had she had remained in the car.

After an accident, it is important to exchange insurance information. If the accident occurred in the freeway and there are no injuries, many police officers recommend that drivers find the nearest exit and exchange information away from the freeway.

“Many people get hit and killed while standing on the shoulder. Never think that this can’t happen to you,” said CHP Officer Daniel Jacowitz.

The law requires that drivers exchange insurance information after an accident, but sometimes motorists can be unwilling to do so because they want to avoid paying for any damage.

If the other driver refuses to disclose information, the safest thing to do is to copy down the license plate number and contact the police.  It is not recommended that you follow the other driver if he or she drives away, as you don’t know if he or she is a dangerous person.

Also important to know is that sometimes drivers give out false information. If this happens, go to the police with the other driver’s license plate number.

If the other driver has no insurance, the police will administer a correctable ticket so that the driver can obtain insurance.

While it is unfortunate to get into an accident, making smart choices after the fact can greatly minimize damage.