7 Tips For Handling Your First Car Accident

Oddly enough, we rarely seem to learn important life advice pertaining to the "real world" during our entire time in school.

While we may be proficient in English grammar and trigonometry, little unavoidable benchmarks such as tax season and our first car accident seem to fall through the educational cracks.

While sometimes the best way to learn the right (and more likely wrong) way to handle a situation is through firsthand experience and mistakes, we'd like to give you the upper hand when it comes to a car-meets-car encounter.

Whether you've been in your first collision or not, you'll want to prepare with some of the tips we have to share from personal experience below:

If You Can, Pull Over

In the case of a minor accident such as a rear-ending, pull your car over to the side of the road. You aren't fleeing the scene, but simply getting out of the way of traffic, which helps to avoid another unnecessary collision. The last thing you want to do is build up more traffic because, believe us, those behind you are about to honk their heads off. Traffic does strange things to people.

Cher Horowitz taking her driving test

(Clueless via Paramount Pictures)


Never Assign Blame

A major rule of thumb during an accident is to keep your lips sealed in regards to blame. Whether the accident was totally your fault, completely the other person's fault or somewhere in between, the scene of the accident is no place to play the blame game. It's actually up to the insurance companies to decide who's at fault, and you don't want to A) start a fight with the other person involved, B) implicate yourself, or C) let the argument detract from the real responsibilities you need to handle at the scene.

If the other person tries to assign the blame on you, don't engage. Simply tell them that you'd like to exchange information and you can discuss the details of the accident at another time. Don't give in!


Always Get Photos of Both Cars

Photos are your best form of proof down the line when the insurance companies are deciding who was at fault. Take pics of your car, the other person's car and even skid marks on the road if applicable. Yes, those lines can speak a thousand words when it comes to who hit who and at what speed. A video would be an added bonus as you can quickly walk the viewer through your side of the story and show how it lines up with the streets and the other vehicles involved. Don't forget to take a pic of the other car's license plate, too! You'll especially want this if the other driver proves uncooperative.

Lena taking pictures in a car

(The Fosters via Freeform)


Exchange Your Info No Matter What

Don't let the other person talk you out of exchanging names, numbers and insurance information. Whether or not you decide to go through insurance later isn't the point. You need that info now so that you have all available options later. Plus, you aren't always dealing with the most honest people in the world, and what they say at the scene may change a few days later.


If Necessary, Call 911

Depending on the severity of the accident, 911 could be your first call. Of course, if anyone is injured then you'll want to make this call immediately, otherwise you may want to give the police a ring so that you can make a statement. It's just another useful tool to have on your side when making a claim with insurance companies. If there are witnesses on the street, they may also be able to corroborate your story. The more voices on your side, the better!


Keep Your Registration and Insurance On-Hand

As a pre-accident piece of advice, you always want to have your registration and proof of insurance on hand. A helpful place to keep these important papers is in your glove box so that they are always with the car. Not to say that you would ever leave home without your wallet, but just in case it slips your mind the one time you get into an accident, you don't want to be without these documents. To stay on the safe side, keep them in an easy-to-access area of your car.


Don't Be Afraid to Call Your Parents

If at any point you feel overwhelmed, don't hesitate to call your parents. It's likely they have been in an accident or two during their years driving and they will have the best advice for what to do in that moment. We know it can be a nerve-racking call to make, but we promise they will be more concerned for your safety than upset with your lack of pristine defensive driving.

Mariana hugging Stef, The Fosters

(The Fosters via Freeform)


Just because accidents happen doesn't mean you should be totally freaking over your driving test. Click HERE for tips on how to keep calm and pass your test on your first try.