How to be ready for anything: Car Accidents
How to be ready for anything: Car Accidents
While no one wants to think about getting into a car accident, it’s always good to be prepared. Whether it’s adopting better driving habits or knowing how to avoid an accident, there are more than a few ways to make sure every drive is a safe one.

Tips to prevent getting into a car accident 

Stay alert

Being alert while driving is key. If you do end up hungry or tired while on the road, its best to pull over and fill your “empty tank” by having a snack, or get some shut-eye (where it’s safe and legal to do so, like a highway rest stop or a quiet side street). Taking rest stops are especially important to break up long drives and will help keep you focused on the road.

Minimize distractions

Load up your playlist, switch your phone to silent and put it away and set the GPS! Make sure your full attention is on the road once you start driving. Remember, texting and driving is one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving. You’re 23 times more likely to crash if you text and drive. Not only is using it while driving illegal, but it also comes with a price tag that may impact your insurance. You may not think it’s a big deal to send a quick text while driving, but the consequences can be deadly.

In Ontario, things like eating, drinking, putting on makeup, smoking, reading and reaching for objects are not part the province’s distracted driving law. However, you can still be charged with careless or dangerous driving. Check the laws in your province so you’re aware of the rules for distracted, careless and dangerous driving.

Always use your mirrors and signals

Look into your rear-view and side-view mirror every time you start or stop your car, pass another car, turn, merge, switch lanes, and when you pull over. These mirrors help you to see what’s behind your car and in your blind spot.

When changing lanes, do a traffic check all around you. Divide your attention between watching in front, watching your side mirrors, and checking your blind spot. When there’s enough space for you to change lanes, turn on your signal. Always check your blind spot one more time before starting to move into the other lane.

Turn on your lights

Being able to see what’s ahead of you is just as important as being seen by other drivers. In Canada, all cars come with daytime running lights (much dimmer than headlights) which help with visibility during the day. However, if the conditions are poor during the day (foggy, raining, or snowing heavily) it’s a good idea to turn on your headlights as a safety precaution.

When it starts to get darker, in Ontario you’re legally required to turn on your headlights between 30 minutes before sunset and 30 mins after sunrise. In B.C., headlights are needed 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise. And in Alberta, you must use your headlights when visibility is 150m or less or at night.

Maintain a safe distance and speed

Whenever you’re behind another vehicle, keep a minimum two-second gap of space so you have time to stop safely if the vehicle ahead of you brakes suddenly. To create the gap, pick a marker on the road such as a road sign. When the back of the vehicle ahead of you passes the marker, count “one thousand, one thousand and one.” When your front bumper reaches the marker, stop counting. If you reach the marker before you’ve finished counting, you’re following too closely.

You’ll also want to adjust your speed to changing conditions and observe the road at least 20 to 30 seconds ahead of you. You should always follow posted speed limits, especially in residential areas. The faster you’re travelling the less time you have to react, which means damage in an accident will be much, much worse.

Stay on top of car maintenance

Routine maintenance ensures that your car is working as it should be and can prevent unexpected breakdowns and accidents. Depending how often you drive, you should take your car in every six months or every 5,000 to 7,000 km. Regular car maintenance includes oil and filter changes, fluid inspection and top-ups, fuel filter replacement, and tire rotation and brake inspection. But be sure to check with your car manufacturer or mechanic for specific recommendations based on the needs of your car!

Car accidents due to poor maintenance

Making sure your car is in tip top shape could also prevent an accident. If you have worn out brake pads or bald tires you could be putting yourself and others in danger. Ensuring your brakes are working properly and your tires are filled with air and have enough traction is crucial for everyone’s safety. Or even something as simple as getting a headlight replaced could be the difference that decreases your chances of being involved in an accident.

What are 3 steps you should follow if you are involved in a car accident? 

Even if you’re a good driver, sometimes accidents happen. Stay calm and take a deep breath. After an accident, your mind is typically racing a mile a minute, so knowing what to do in a stressful situation will help you navigate each step at a time.

1. First step

First, safely pull over (if you can), turn your car off and turn on your hazards (or 4-ways). In Ontario, if anyone is injured or if there’s more than $2,000 worth of damage, you’ll need to call 9-1-1 immediately. The police will arrive as soon as possible. Do not try to move anyone who may appear to be injured as you could cause more harm.

In Ontario, if no one is injured and total damage to all the vehicles involved looks to be less than $2,000, contact a Collision Reporting Centre within 24 hours. These centres are police-run facilities created to assist drivers in reporting vehicle accidents.

If you’re in Quebec and you’re injured in a car accident, you must report it to the SAAQ.

2. Record the details of the car accident

If it’s safe to do so, record key details by capturing photos of the scene, the other individual’s car, and their license plate and contact information. If any pedestrians or cyclists were involved, you should take photos of the scene of the accident and get their contact information. You may also want to jot down or record a voice memo of what happened from your perspective. Include details such as:

  • Date and time
  • Weather conditions
  • Road conditions
  • Estimated speed
  • Description of the accident

After you’ve recorded these details, you might need to call a tow truck. But – keep in mind that you have rights when it comes to tow trucks. If you need advice on what to do, get in touch with your insurer.

3. Contact your car insurance provider

No matter the severity of the damage, it’s always important to let your car insurance company know that you’ve been in an accident. You’ll want to send them the details of the accident including time, place, date and the other party’s information, so they can determine who is at fault and help you if you need to submit an auto claim.

Filing an auto claim

When reporting an auto claim, be sure to have these details ready:

  • Your policy number – the insurance company needs this when you first call to make your claim
  • Photos
  • Police reports
  • Correspondence relating to the claimed event
  • Names and contacts of any service providers you used to assist you
  • Invoices for any out-of-pocket expenses
  • Receipts for lost or damaged itemsContact information, namely phone numbers where you can be reached

Find out what happens after you file a claim.

Hopefully you never get into a car accident but it’s a good idea to be prepared for the worst. Knowing the recommended steps ahead of time will help ease your stress and make sure that you and your vehicle are taken care of properly. Thankfully, your claims professional will guide you through the process and answer all your questions. They’ll do their best to help you get back on the road as quickly and safely as possible.

Coverage your car’s always wanted at a competitive price.