The morning of an auto accident is just like any other. We rush out the door with our coffee, drop the kids off at school, and join the bustling crowd of daily transit. One glance down to change the radio station, then BAM!
Being involved in a car crash can be one of the most unpleasant experiences life has to offer, but it doesn’t mean you have to be hopeless and helpless. We can’t anticipate exactly when an accident will occur, but we can arm ourselves with safe driving tips, knowledge and statistics to be prepared on how to deal with them.
Car Accident Statistics
According to highway fatality numbers compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 37,133 people were killed in an auto accident in the US in 2017. Florida ranked as the third deadliest driving state only behind California and Texas. The fact that California has almost double the population of Florida, compared at 39.6 million to 21.3 million, and only 490 more fatal accidents speaks for itself.
With our gorgeous beaches and thrilling theme parks, Florida breaks tourism records year after year. A study conducted by VISIT FLORIDA estimates that 116.5 million people traveled to Florida in 2017. Of these visitors, 102.3 million were from another state, 10.7 million were from overseas, and 3.7 million were from Canada. This means you could potentially be driving next to millions of people each year who aren’t familiar with the area, local traffic laws and patterns, and who are most likely using Google Maps to navigate through traffic.
Safe Driving Tips
All hope is not lost though! There are many things you can do to help maximize your safety while out there on the roads. We have laid out several simple and important steps you can take below:
- Know Where You’re Going - Any outings, especially to unfamiliar locations should be planned out in advance, before leaving the house. We’re past the days of printing out Mapquest directions with the convenience of GPS and can choose a route that best suits us. Route out your drive ahead of time in Google Maps or Waze, which will also alert you of user submitted accidents, traffic jams, delays, or detours on your drive.
- Eliminate Distractions - Nothing should be as important as keeping your eyes on the road while driving. Make your route just about getting from point A to B. Phone calls, texting, eating, and fidgeting with the radio increases your risk of causing an accident exponentially. 9% of all fatal accidents in 2017 involved at least one distracted driver, according to NHTSA.
- Wear Your Seatbelt - Though it may seem to be the simplest and most basic idea when you think of safe driving, this is the most important, and potentially life saving, decision you can make when getting into a vehicle. 47% of people killed in 2017 were not wearing a seatbelt. Just buckle up!
- Maintain Your Vehicle - Scheduling regular maintenance on your vehicle can avoid many hassling experiences, including causing an accident. Make sure your brake lights and turning signals are functional, check fluid levels and tire pressure, and ensure headlights and windshield wipers are working properly before your drive.
- Invest in AAA - Having a plan ahead of time can ease you through an accident when you’re already stressed as it is. Investing in a back up plan such as a AAA membership or keeping a local tow truck company in mind will make a world of difference on a harrowing day. Knowing about your insurance plan is helpful too.
- Don’t Speed - Speeding not only triples your chances of being involved in a crash, it also increases the severity of sustainable bodily injury and property damage. Injuries can include, but are not limited to, broken bones, whiplash, lacerations, paralysis, brain damage, and ultimately death.
- Don’t Drink & Drive - According to the CDC, an average of 29 people die each die from an alcohol related auto accident. It is vital to make other arrangements if you’ve been drinking. Plan a designated driver, arrange for an Uber or cab, book a hotel room, or stay home. One night of fun isn’t worth your life.
If you’ve unfortunately been involved in a car crash, the most important thing to keep in mind is you and your health. No amount of metal is worth your life and wellbeing, or those of others.
Immediately alert the authorities after an auto accident
Even if it’s just a minor incident or fender bender, make a report. This allows law enforcement to respond ASAP and direct traffic to avoid further complications or accidents if necessary. Call an ambulance if needed, even when in doubt, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
File a claim with your insurance company
Don’t wait or hesitate. The best time to deal with an accident is right after it happens. Gather information from other drivers such as contact information and drivers licenses. Take pictures of damages and gather eye witness accounts. Write down everything you remember while the memory is still fresh. The more information you can provide to your insurance company, the smoother the process will be.
Seek Medical Attention
Many auto accident related injuries don’t make themselves known right away. You could be suffering from an injury without even knowing it, potentially making it worse by not being treated sooner. You have 14 days after an accident to receive initial medical care and services in order for it to be covered under PIP. Under the Florida PIP statute, a chiropractor can provide these services, with the exception of massage and acupuncture therapy.
Know Your Rights
Don’t admit fault or sign any documents without consulting a legal professional. Florida is a no fault state which means each driver involved turns to their own insurance company to cover medical and lost wages costs. This doesn’t mean you’re safe from further claims that could be filed against you. Become familiar with your individual policy and seek counsel from an accident and injury attorney when necessary.