Car Care

How to deal with a car crash


It doesn’t matter whether you’re a novice on your learner licence or a driver with 30 years’ experience; anybody can be involved in a crash.

No matter how serious, being in a car crash is a frightening experience. In the event of a crash, it’s important to remember the basics to prevent an already tricky situation getting much worse.

Five important things to remember in a serious crash

1. Safety of occupants is paramount

After an accident, your first priority is to check if anyone is injured and requires assistance. Call the police/ambulance if people have been injured, or *555 if it’s not an emergency.

Turn on your hazard lights as well as your headlights so other motorists can see you’re experiencing an issue. If your vehicle is able to be moved, move it to the side of the road out of the way of traffic.

2. Notes count

When another car crashes into yours, you’re most likely to be shaken up. Writing down what happened is probably the last thing on your mind. However, if you can manage to write down some detailed notes about what happened in the car accident, it will create a much more accurate record of the events than if you rely on memory alone. The AA Roadservice app has an accident component for doing exactly this, so if you have your phone handy, simply record the details in the app. 

Swap details with other driver(s) including name, address, contact number, insurance company details, registration number, vehicle colour, make and model. Don’t admit liability or try to settle a claim; this limits how your insurance company can sort things out with anyone else involved and may cancel out your claim.

Don’t forget to seek details from any eye witnesses too as they often hold key information that can be helpful in a dispute.

3. Pictures speak a thousand words

If possible, take some photos of the location, the accident damage, the orientation of the vehicles on the road and even photos of other relevant information such as number plates and driver licences. The AA Roadservice app accident component includes a place for storing photos too.

4. Fancy a sketch?

You don’t need to be Picasso to draw up a quick sketch of the accident. Do this while the event is fresh in your memory as you might be asked to recall this information from the police or insurance companies.

5. Pick up the phone

Get on the phone to your insurance company. Remember that they will rely on the evidence and description you have produced to determine liability. In many cases it can be a complex scenario. When there are multiple vehicles involved it can get a little tricky determining who’s liable for what. This is where having insurance really pays off.

Light bumps and grazes

Another common but less serious crash is the classic nose-to-tail. These accidents occur every day across New Zealand, but are more common within areas of high traffic. If you find yourself in this unlucky situation, turn your hazard lights on and move off the road as soon as it’s possible and safe enough for you to do so- you don’t want to be the person responsible for holding up the motorway for half an hour.

Similar to a larger scale collision, take some notes and photos to ensure you have all of the facts covered and if there is a witness, record their name and number in case you run into any insurance obstacles further down the line.

This kind of accident can often cause other drivers to be distracted and collide themselves or slow down traffic. Just the presence of two mildly damaged vehicles on the side of the road will cause rubberneckers to slow down to gawk at the scene.

Unfortunately, it’s safe to say that crashes will continue to occur. The important thing to do in any accident is to remain calm to reduce the chance of further danger to both yourself and other road users.

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