When the clocks spring forward this weekend to mark the end of Daylight Savings make sure you're well rested before you get behind the wheel on Monday. It's a well-researched fact that "Spring Forward" has detrimental effects on our minds, bodies and in turn road safety. An analysis of auto collision data from various cities in North America shows an increase in car accidents between 17 and 20 percent on the Monday following Spring Forward. This phenomenon can be attributed to the loss of an extra hour of sleep which causes drowsiness resulting in distraction and impaired judgement. If you are feeling drowsy while driving, the odds of a car accident increase by nearly five times.
In worst case scenario, if you are in a car accident following the time change, do you know what to do? Here's a step-by-step guide to help you through the situation:
Stay calm. Do not panic. Take a moment to assess injuries, check yourself, passengers and if it is safe to do so, check with anyone else involved in the accident.
If anyone is injured call 911 immediately. Do not attempt to move anyone injured in the accident, you may make their injuries worse.
Take photos of the accident scene before cars are moved. Photographs can serve as good evidence for insurance company and police. They also help to narrate the progression of events, state proof of personal injuries or property damage and also help in reconstruction of the accident story later. You could also take wide shots from different angles of the general scene, traffic indicators, weather conditions, other vehicles involved in the accident, close-ups of damaged areas of your car and cars of those involved, skid marks and date and time identifiers.
If there are no injuries and it is safe to do so "Steer It Clear It", move your car off to the side of the road. This helps to prevent secondary collisions. Do it only in case of a minor accident with minimal damage where the car is still in drive-able condition, there are no fatal injuries and the road is free of debris, etc.
If there are no injuries and the total damage to all vehicles appears to be LESS than $2000 call your local non-emergency police line for instructions. Police may be dispatched to the scene or they may ask you to go to the nearest Collision Reporting Centre or policy station to file a report within 24 hours.
Under the Highway Traffic Act, if the damage is MORE THAN $2000, someone is injured or there is damage to highway property it is your legal responsibility to contact the police right away. The penalty for failing to report a car accident is a fine up to $1000, 3 demerit points, a conviction registered on your driving abstract for 3 years and a dramatic increase in insurance rates.
Write down the names, addresses, contact number and driver's license information of all other drivers involved and license plates of all cars involved and all vehicle information including ownership information for all cars involved.
Collect witness information. Third-party witnesses are usually independent and unbiased as there are no vested interests at stake. Witnesses could be other drivers, passengers and bystanders.
Write down your version of events, you don't want to forget any important details. You could also ask the police officers if they can give you a copy of the accident report. Taking down their names and badge number helps.
Report the car accident to your broker as soon as possible. Give the team an opportunity to help you.