Car accidents are never fun, but they can be especially difficult on a road trip, especially if your summer getaway is in another state. Crossing borders may not seem like a big deal when you’re heading out, but if you are in a crash far from home, we’re here to help.

Prepare for your Road Trip

In addition to the usual auto maintenance like oil changes and checking your fluids, wipers, and tires, you can prepare for the possibility of an accident so it’s not so overwhelming if it happens.

Review your Auto Insurance Policy

Double check that your policy covers you in the places you’re traveling. Usually, the 48 contiguous states are included, but if not, your insurance company can tell you what you need to do to maintain coverage on your road trip.

Review Traffic Laws

If you’re crossing borders, you may be subject to new traffic laws. Before you leave, do a quick search on Google for traffic laws where you’ll be driving so you know what might be different.

If you are in an Accident in Another State…

Don’t panic (too much). Accidents happen, and you’re at least a little prepared for this.

Is everyone OK?

As in any state, first, make sure nobody is hurt. If you think you or another person may be, call 9-1-1 (in the United States).

Record the Accident

As the out-of-towner, it won’t be as easy for you to get records and information about your accident later, so do it thoroughly now.

● As always, take pictures of what happened.
● Write down your version of events.
● Get the contact information of everyone involved in the accident, especially the other driver.
○ Don’t forget their license plate number and vehicle make and model.
● If there are witnesses, get their information too!

Is your Vehicle Safe to Drive?

When you’re driving long distances, especially with passengers and lots of weight in your vehicle, it’s important to make sure it’s in good driving condition. You definitely don’t want a second crash or a road trip breakdown.

Even if you can’t see any damage, it’s best to take your car to a local collision repair shop. Tell them what happened and ask for a professional opinion regarding the safety of driving your vehicle.

If you prefer to use your repair shop at home, ask the local technician if it’s safe for you to drive back.

Fender benders are the most common kind of accident, and generally, they don’t cause much damage. Most of time time, it’s a good idea to go to the doctor anyway to get yourself checked out because sometimes things, like whiplash, don’t show outward signs immediately. But what about your car?

Sometimes, even small things caused by an minor car accident can lead to big things under the hood that you may not notice right away. It’s important to keep an eye on things, even after a small accident. If you notice any of the following symptoms, it may be time to have your car checked out, and make sure to mention the details of the accident when you do. Always have the other party’s insurance and contact information, just in case!

If your battery is rapidly losing energy…

Whether your battery dies suddenly, your car won’t start, or you notice you lights are less powerful than before, your battery issues may have been caused by a minor collision. Even a small impact can be enough to shift your battery out of position and make it work overtime or cause it to short, meaning you’ll need to replace it much sooner than you would have otherwise.

If your check engine light flickers…

Your check engine light is there as a warning that something is wrong with your engine and it’s never a good idea to ignore it. Small issues may be symptoms of larger ones, or, they can expand and morph into big issues when ignored. Have you vehicle examined if you notice your check engine light is illuminated or flickering.

If you notice the alignment is off…

Alignment is another issue that can start small and quickly spiral out of control. If, however, your alignment is noticeably off following a minor crash, have it checked out so you don’t cause unnecessary wear on your tires, suspension, and brakes.

If you notice a new leak under your car…

Sometimes the smallest accidents can happen in just the right place and nick the oil line, the radiator, or the air conditioner… Cars are not meant to leak liquids – they need them to run properly! If you notice a leak, have your car inspected to find the source.

According to the CDC, car accidents are the number one cause of death and injury in children. AAA reports that when compared with seat belt use, using safety restraints specifically designed for children, like car seats, can reduce the risk of injury by up to 82 percent. The older a child is at the time of an accident, the less difference a child safety seat makes, but the difference is still significant up to certain heights and weights.

To ensure your child is safe, safecar.gov recommends the following four steps:

1. Find the right car seat based on age, weight, and height. There are four main types of safety restraint systems for kids: an infant car seat, a forward facing car seat, a booster seat, and a seat belt.
2. Make sure it is correctly installed. Sometimes this can be tricky, so make sure to read the instructions carefully.
3. Register your car seat online. 4. Receive recall notifications (if any exist) and take the necessary steps to keep your child safe.

But, what happens when you’re in an accident? Hopefully, if you’ve followed the above steps, your child is safe. But does a car seat need to be replaced after an accident?

If you’ve been in an accident, it’s time to inspect your car seat, do some research, and make an informed decision.

Do Car Seats Really Need to be Replaced Following an Accident?

One of the basic rules of car accident and child safety has always been that after an accident, always replace your car seat. But as car safety and car seat safety has improved, this rule has become fuzzier.

The NHTSA says that in some instances, yes, it should be replaced, while in others, it’s not necessary. They recommend that child safety seats and boosters are replaced after a severe r moderate crash, but after a minor crash, it’s not always necessary.

So, what defines a minor crash?

● The car was able to be driven away from the site of the accident,
● The door nearest to the child safety seat was not damaged in the accident,
● The vehicle occupants suffered no accidents,
● The airbags did not deploy in the accident, and
● There is no visible damage to the child safety seat.

If the accident did not meet all of these requirements, it was probably severe enough that the child safety seat needs to be replaced. However, always make sure to look at the safety seat for obvious signs of wear or damage! Your child’s safety is not worth the risk.

It may seem like there are reasons why each season is more full of car accidents than any other, but the truth is that the changing of the seasons leads to more accidents than anything else. Each season brings new weather and changes in the behavior of people, plants, and animals, all of which can affect things like visibility and the safety of road conditions. So, what changes in the summer can make accidents more likely than at any other time of the year?

School is Out!

When school gets out for the summer, it means there are lots of youngsters running around, whether they’re behind the wheel or playing outside. Younger children and their families may be walking in neighborhoods, playing at parks, and kicking balls that end up in the street, so watch out for extra distractions. Older kids, on the other hand, may be old enough to get behind the wheel, populating the road with a higher number of inexperienced and easily distracted drivers.

Construction Season Begins

The more road construction there is, the more likely it is that drivers are taking unfamiliar detours, temporary signs and signals are in place, and traffic lanes are shut down. Keep your eyes peeled for these new road rules that you (and other drivers) may not be used to.

Summer Heat

The heat of the summer can bring all kinds of changes, from overheating cars and an increase in tire blowouts to more motorcycles and bicycles on the road. Keep an eye out for hard to see cyclists! Summer heat is also more damaging to your vehicle, so make sure that your tires are properly inflated and your fluid levels are where they should be.

Vacation Season Begins

Summer is the most popular tourist and vacation time of the year all over the world. The chances are higher now that there will be foreign drivers, out of towners who don’t know the local roads, people relying on GPS navigation systems and trying to operate phones while driving than at other times. Keep an eye out for distracted or lost drivers, and make sure not to drive distracted!

Vacation season also means people are more likely to stay up late, drink more alcohol, and let loose. Driving under the influence is never a good idea, but keep an eye out for those who start earlier in the day or who may be tired from the night before.

 

 

Most drivers aren’t looking to get in a collision – they can be painful to your wallet, your property, and to any people who are involved. Unfortunately, the most common kinds of collisions are those when traffic is moving slowly, or not at all. These low speed, low impact accidents are called fender benders.

So, what causes fender benders, and how can we prevent them?

Rear End Collisions

Rear end collisions can happen anywhere, all they require is for one car to hit another from behind. They’re the most common kind of collision that happens in the United States, and they don’t have to happen at high speed to cause damage.

The best way to avoid a rear end collision is to pay attention! If your car is working properly, (make sure your brakes, brake lights, and headlights are working well!) avoiding a rear end collision is usually a matter of leaving enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you, and braking early enough.

Parking Lot Collisions

Parking lot collisions are similar to rear end collisions – they occur when vehicles are too close, and generally occur at low speeds. In a parking lot, one car may be parked during an accident!

Again, if your vehicle is functioning properly, the best way to avoid a collision is to pay attention. Parking lots may not have posted speeds, but generally 15 miles per hour is the fastest one should drive in a parking lot. The more vehicles, especially driving vehicles, and the more people are in a parking lot, the slower your speed should be. Make sure to go easy on the gas pedal, and pay attention to your surroundings in all directions.

Tips for Paying Attention While Driving

Paying attention is one of the first things they’ll teach you in driver’s education. To make sure you’re at your best, follow these tips.

Drive Sober – Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol will likely impair your reaction time and your depth perception, meaning you’ll notice things later, react later, and misjudge their distance from you. This rule applies to both prescribed and recreational drugs!

Stay off the Phone – Cell phones are one of the main causes of accidents today! Driving slowly is not an excuse to split your attention between driving and using an electronic device, whether it’s built into your car or one you bring with you.

Use your Mirrors – Your mirrors are there to help you see what’s around you, so make sure to use them!

Introduction to Collision Damage

When your vehicle has been in an accident and you take it to the repair shop, your repair technicians have a system for inspecting it for damage. While the system can vary a little depending on the shop you go to and the car you drive, there are a few specific things that collision repair technicians always check for.

Understanding how a technician inspects your vehicle for safety and functionality can help you understand the estimating and repair process.

Inspect Obvious Damage

If there is obviously major damage to the vehicle, the repair technicians will start there. Vehicles are designed to protect the driver and passengers and the most vital parts of the car, like the engine.

When an impact occurs, the damage follows a specific path. When an inspector looks at the car to estimate the cost of repairing it, they should follow a path called ‘the flow of damage.’ Depending on the force of the impact, the damage may be more or less extensive, but it should follow a specific path.

Inspect the Fenders & Bumpers

Fenders and bumpers (as we mentioned in last week’s post) are usually the first parts of the car to be damaged. Their main purpose is to absorb the damage caused by a collision, especially a minor collision.

Usually, collision repair technicians check for four types of damage: dents, scratches, breaks, and scratches. These can easily be seen from the outside of the vehicle, but extensive damage behind the bumper may take more time to find.

Inspect the Windshield

Cracks and chips in the windshield may seem like minor issues, but the windshield plays an important role in protecting the passengers in the vehicle, and in providing support. A good repair technician will inspect the windshield for damage, and recommend repairs or replacement.

Inspect the Door Panels

A minor crash from the side is likely to affect the door panels. While the door panels are also designed to absorb the impact of a crash, they are more functional than bumpers and fenders, and sometimes a repair is essential for the safety and functionality of the vehicle.

A collision repair technician will check for gaps, misalignments, and uneven panels. Gaps and small dents might be okay to leave alone if you don’t want them repaired, but severe dents and misalignments can be dangerous.

Of course, the answer to this question completely depends on the specifics of the accident that your vehicle was in. However, if you have any question as to whether it is safe to drive or not, it is always a good idea to have it inspected! Your collision technician can tell you if it is damaged beyond repair or not.

Once your vehicle has been inspected and, if necessary, repaired, is it safe to drive? There are a few things you can do and questions that you can ask during the repair process to help ensure that it will be.

Ask your technician what kind of parts can be used to repair your vehicle.

There are several different ways that repair shops can fix the broken parts of your car. They can repair them, they can replace them with aftermarket or recycled parts, or, they can replace them with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts.

Each of these has different benefits and drawbacks, from cost to safety to compatibility. However, OEM parts are not always safest, and recycled parts are not always the most affordable. Discuss your options with your technician.

Work with a repair shop you know and trust.

If possible, work with repair technicians that you know, or that you have been referred to. Especially with modern vehicles, it’s important for repair technicians to have the proper training to work on today’s vehicles and fix them to meet the current safety standards.

Ask and understand what happened, what is being repaired, and what needs to be replaced.

Even though you trust your technician, you are the one who will be driving your vehicle, and the best way to ensure that it’s repaired well is to be involved in the process. A great technician will answer any questions you have, explain to you what is wrong and how it should be fixed, and involve you in any major decisions that need to be made.

Listen to your vehicle.

Often, listening to your vehicle and paying attention to the way it drives are the best ways to tell when something is wrong. Even if you’ve taken your vehicle to a shop that you trust and you’ve been involved in the repair process, it can’t hurt to ask or have it checked out if you think there is an issue.

Car accidents can be stressful, painful, time consuming, and expensive when you are able to work with the other driver, but when they drive away from the scene before you get a chance to exchange information, accidents can be even more so. A hit and run accident occurs either when a driver hits your vehicle and then drives off, or when your vehicle is parked and unattended, and is hit by another car whose driver fails to leave any contact information.

There are many reasons why a driver might flee the scene of an accident. The most common of these are improper insurance or no license.

There are several things that you can to do simplify the process of handling a car accident when the other driver decides not to work with you, and there are several things you should avoid doing.

Steps to Take Following a Hit and Run

• If you can, write down the license plate number of the other vehicle.
• Whether or not you get the license plate number, write down the make, model, year, color, any special markings or stickers on the vehicle, and a description of the driver if you notice them.
• Take photos of the other vehicle if you can. Always take photos of your vehicle, including up close shots of the damage and images of the entire vehicle and the surrounding scene.
• Especially if your vehicle was hit when you weren’t near it, keep track of the time, date, location, and damage. This can be extremely important when you’re trying to show that your vehicle was actually damaged in a hit and run, you’re not trying to scam your insurance company.
• Call the police and report what you can about the driver and the vehicle, including descriptions, which direction the vehicle went, and the time, location, and cause of the accident.
• Complete a police report or an accident report.
• If there were witnesses, get their information if possible. Collect as much information as you can from witnesses, including names, contact information, and descriptions of what happened.
• Call your insurance company. Having uninsured motorist coverage can be helpful in this case, especially if you can’t track down the other driver or weren’t able to get a complete license plate number.

Things Not to Do Following a Hit and Run

• Do not flee the scene of the accident, even to chase the other driver. Confrontations tend to make situations worse, not better.
• Avoid leaving your vehicle in the way of traffic. If you can move it, do so after you photograph the scene.