As our days get longer, more and more people will be out on the road. Whether for family trips, spring break or just to get out into the sun, more drivers on the road mean a potential for accidents. 

If you’ve never been in an accident before, here are some of the most typical actions that need to be taken immediately after an accident. 

•Stay as calm as possible — Breathe deeply, count to 10, think of the ocean — whatever helps you slow down your heart rate and focus.

•Check for injuries — Remember that your adrenaline rush can mask symptoms. If you or anyone involved might be injured, call an ambulance immediately.

•Turn on your hazard lights — This lets drivers behind you know there’s an incident ahead. 

If you have them and it’s safe to do so, you might also want to use orange cones, warning triangles or safety flares. If you don’t have any of those, open your trunk to immediately indicate an issue to oncoming traffic and hopefully help them reduce their speeds as they approach you.

•Get out of traffic — If the accident seems minor and there aren’t any injuries, move cars out of the way and to the closest safe place.

•Call the police — They’ll sort through the scene, talk to the involved parties and write up an accident report. It is absolutely critical to get the name of the police officer and the report number.

•Notify your agent — Your insurance agent can help you sort through your options, even if the accident was minor. Get the agent on the phone soon after the accident so he or she can help you walk through the process.

•Take notes — Things happen so quickly that it’s easy to forget details. Jot down your recollections of the accident, including the damage to all cars. If possible, get the contact information of any witnesses.

•Take pictures — If your cell phone can do it or if you’ve got a camera on hand — and it’s safe to do so — take photos of the accident scene and any damage you can see.

•Prevent further damage — If it doesn’t put you or anyone else in harm’s way, do what’s possible to prevent any further damage to your vehicle.

•Exchange insurance information — If the name on the auto registration and/or insurance policy is different from the name of the driver, establish the relationship and note it.

•Stick with the facts. Be polite. Stay objective and be truthful.

•Stay — It always seems to take forever, but don’t leave the scene of the accident until everything is taken care of.

There are so many things to remember and keep track of, but document as much as you can from the scene because your memory might fail you. With all the adrenaline pumping through your system, specific facts and details that would be helpful aren’t always so clear when you walk away from that very moment. 

Remember, you aren’t the first nor will you be the last person to be involved in an accident, so take another one of those deep breaths and relax — tomorrow is a new day.

EMILY WANG HAWKINS is a State Farm agent in Madison Park. To suggest future topics or more information, visit www.myagentemily.com, or call (206) 588-0416. 

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