Are You Ready for a Car Accident?
You don't leave the house thinking, "This is the day I'm going to get in a car accident." Yet, according to recent statistics, there are over 10 million traffic accidents a year in the United States, ranging from scraped bumpers all the way to fatalities. That works out to more than 27,000 accidents a day! It makes sense to be prepared.
Go Through Your Glove Box
It's probably time to sort out the papers in your glove box, particularly if you have a habit of tossing automotive receipts in there every time you get an oil change. While you definitely want to save those receipts in case you decide to sell the car, they don't need to be in your way when you are frantically looking for your insurance paperwork or registration.
Remove any receipts and put them in a manila envelope for storage elsewhere. All you should have in the glove box, aside from the operating manual, is the following:
- A clear document folder containing updated proof of insurance, registration, and the numbers of your doctor and a trusted emergency contact. It's a good idea to make a copy of your health insurance card and have that in the folder as well.
- A small notebook for writing down the names of witnesses and exchanging information with the other driver.
- Writing utensils.
- A USB charger for your cell phone.
It's stressful enough to get in an accident. You don't need to compound your stress by searching through multiple papers, only to find that your proof of insurance is probably still sitting on the desk in your home office.
Consider Investing in an Emergency Car Kit
You can buy a generic kit that is preassembled for you, or you can purchase the items separately. In case of a roadside accident, here are some things that are great to have in the trunk of your car in case of an accident:
- A fire extinguisher that is rated for Class B and Class C fires (those involving flammable liquids and electrical equipment, respectively).
- A first aid kit.
- A set of three reflective warning triangles so that approaching vehicles can stay clear of your car.
- A flashlight and spare batteries.
- Duct tape -- if your side mirror gets lopped off, you will be happy to have this all-purpose solution.
- Tow rope and bungee cords.
Your Cell Phone Is Your Secret Weapon: Don't Leave Home Without It
Paperwork and identification aside, your cell phone is the single most important item you should have with you in your car at all times. If you have a charging device that plugs into your car, you don't even have to worry whether the phone is charged when you leave the house.
With the phone, you can exchange contact information with potential witnesses and the other driver and arrange a tow or summon emergency vehicles to the scene.
The phone also allows you to obtain photographic evidence at the scene of the accident. Naturally, you should take photos of any damage to both your vehicle and others involved in the accident. But you should also use the phone's camera to record details of the accident scene, such as the presence of traffic cameras, weather conditions, and visual obstructions that may have contributed to the incident. The more documented evidence you have, the better chance you have of being successful when it comes time to file a claim.