With its ever-increasing population and being one of the busiest countries concerning road traffic, the congestion occurring on small roads, the general disregard towards obeying traffic rules and the callous attitude while driving, it is not surprising that the rate of occurrence of road accidents in India is on a steep rise. So what do you do if you face an accident or a sudden breakdown while on the road?
Here are a few tips:
The first thing to do when you are involved in a car crash or a sudden breakdown is to confirm that you are safe. Even simple accidents can make you feel a bit shaken up. You might feel dizzy when the car's momentum is brought to a sudden and abrupt halt. Take a minute to steady yourself, take deep breaths and assess your surroundings' safety. If the car has stopped in the middle of the road, it is better to navigate it to the left parking lane so that it doesn't come in the way of oncoming traffic. If you suspect a gas leak from the smell, it is better to get out of the car and stay a safe distance away till the source is located.
This is the first step toward handling the situation. Staying mentally peaceful, irrespective of who was at fault or responsible for the accident, is extremely important. Emotions like anger need to be kept in control to manage the situation without losing cool. Secondly, staying calm is essential to form a mental triage and try to attend to the injuries of those who have been injured.
Never leave the place until you have spoken to someone, either the other driver, the traffic police, or the police themselves. Stop the car, if possible, move the car to a side lane, turn off the engine, switch on the hazard lights, and wait till help arrives.
All highways have toll-free traffic helpline numbers for attending to emergencies like vehicular accidents or significant breakdowns. If there is a possibility that passengers have been injured, it is wise to call an ambulance. If you have injured yourself, try to flag down a vehicle or pedestrians and ask them to call for help. They can, in turn, inform authorities and ask for more helping hands that can begin the rescue work till official help arrives.
If anyone is injured in the accident, whether it is passengers in your car, those in the other vehicle, or pedestrians involved, try to assess their level of injury. Cars are usually provided with first aid kits, and till medical help arrives, the first aid kit can be helpful. Try to provide basic first aid to the best of your knowledge. If someone is unresponsive, activate the emergency medical service, call for help, and if you are trained in basic life support, try giving basic life support till medical help arrives. Right now, the Indian society of Anaesthesiologists has taken the initiative to train every individual in COLS (Compression Only Life Support), also known as Jeevansanjeevani, to help save lives of people who become unresponsive till medical help arrives. High-quality chest compressions can keep the heart pumping and blood circulating, provided you know the correct technique. If someone has twisted bones, it is better not to move them. If someone seems to have sustained a neck injury, the neck should not be moved till paramedics arrive and attach the cervical collar.
In cases of accidents, keeping the police informed, an FIR is generally filed. Police can also help activate emergency response teams, gather evidence from eyewitnesses, and control the crowd if necessary. Do not get involved in any brawl with the driver of the opposite vehicle, and avoid blame games, as in accident situations and panic scenarios, tempers run high. It is better to let the proper authority handle it.
Once you are safe and calm and ensure that no injured person needs your attention, the police have been informed, and medical help is on the way, it is a good idea to inform your car insurance company. The car insurance companies have their roadside assistance numbers as well. Depending on the type of accident, major or minor, and the severity of damage caused to the vehicle, the insurance company representative will guide you as to the next step to be taken, whether the car can be taken to the nearest service centre, whether they would send a roadside assistance team.
For legality, it is better to take all the information you can from the driver of the opposite vehicle � their name, their address, the car type and the registration number of the vehicle. You might also need to give your details to the opposite party. However, until you are sure what exactly happened, it is better to accept responsibility or blame the other driver. All things settle with time and by the right authorities.
The importance of documentation can never be undermined. It is better to take pictures with your mobile phone camera and jot down the sequence of events as you remember them occurring while they are still fresh in your mind. This documentation will prove helpful in case a lawsuit is involved in the accident.
If you may face a lawsuit for the accident, it is a good idea to call your lawyer and keep them in the loop to be on the safe side legally.
These are the important things to be kept in mind if you are involved in a car accident/breakdown.