Snowfall, freezing temperatures, patches of ice – winter can be a dangerous time to be on the road, especially if you’re aren’t used to driving in winter conditions.
With reduced visibility, slick roads and maybe even a irresponsible driver or two, accidents are destined to happen. Before heading into winter traffic be aware of these five guidelines to help you stay safe while you wait for help to arrive after a car accident in winter:
- Respond calmly. Your first instinct following any car accident may be to jump out of the car and give the other driver(s) a piece of your mind. But, given traffic and road conditions, it may not be safe for you to get out of your vehicle at all (and, it’s never safe to act aggressively toward others). So, stay in your car, take a deep breath, turn on your hazard lights and check yourself and others for injuries. Keep in mind that, if you’re in shock, you may not notice your own injuries at first. If needed, call 911 to request medical and traffic assistance.
- Get off the road. If a minor accident leaves your car operable and no one involved requires emergency first aid, make clearing the roadway your next priority. Have all vehicles pull well off the road to reduce the chances of causing another accident. Just proceed with caution, especially if visibility is low. Other drivers on the road need extra time to react to slow-moving vehicles.
- If you can’t get off the road, stay in your car. Walking around the roadway is extremely dangerous if other cars are around, particularly with stormy weather and slick roads making it difficult for drivers to respond to unexpected hazards. So, stay in your car and fasten your seatbelt, in case another collision occurs. Wait there for assistance and instructions from emergency personnel. Or, if your car isn’t safe to be in, seek other protection.
- Stay visible, stay warm, stay put. Put up warning triangles or road flares, if you have them. We strongly recommend making the small investment to have the following in your car for emergencies:
– Road flares and warning triangle
– Blankets for all passengers
– First aid kit
– Small fire extinguisher
– Water for refilling the water coolant and for passengers to drink.
It is always smart to drive with a fuller gas of tank in the winter, especially when driving over mountainous passes. Passes such as Snoqualmie Pass can sometimes be closed for hours, even days. You don’t want to find yourself stuck in a snowstorm waiting for help to arrive because you ran out of gas.
- Collect pertinent details and report the accident. After any accident, it’s important to exchange insurance information with the other driver(s), jot down notes about what happened and even snap a few photos – just be sure not to put yourself in harm’s way in order to do so. We recommend that you always call the other driver’s insurance if he or she was at fault. By doing so, you can ensure that the information that was given to you is correct, the policy is actually active and that hopefully the other party can confirm your statement. Then contact your insurance carrier to file a claim and your roadside assistance service to request help.
What if you come across an accident involving others? As long as they aren’t in immediate danger, your best bet is likely to call 911 and let the appropriate local authorities respond. Pulling over to help could cause additional problems, such as distracting other drivers and causing an accident yourself.
Remember, winter driving can be as unpredictable as the weather. So, keep your phone charged and your gas tank full, and slow down so you have extra time to respond – you need it when the roads are slick!
1500 Benson Road South, Suite 201
Renton, WA 98055