November 4, 2002
Safety group develops list of things to do after a crash
Dundas, Ontario – According the US National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA) there were 1.7 million teen driver car crashes in
year 2000. Of those crashes, they resulted in 7,600 teen deaths and 569,000
teen injuries. In Canada for the same year, teen drivers accounted for some
30,000 injuries and 387 fatalities. Teen driver car crashes remain the
single leading cause of permanent injury and death in teens across North
To help teens know what to do in the event of a collision, a safety group has developed a helpful list. The I Promise Program – teen safe driving initiative (www.ipromiseprogram.com), requested input from law enforcement agencies and officers across North America to develop a list of just what teens (and all other motorists) should do in the event of a collision.
“Even though we promote teen driver safety, we recognize that teens will
still be involved in collisions,” says Gary Direnfeld, executive director.
“As such, the objective of this information is to minimize further risk in
an already dangerous situation.”
Parents are advised to contact their local law enforcement agency
concerning specific laws in their area while the following forms general
guidelines of what to do in the event of a crash:
- After impact and the car has come to a full stop, remain calm and
assess the situation. Look at yourself and passengers to determine if there
are any injuries. Look out at the other vehicle and roadway to determine if
there is a risk to yourself or others.
- In the event of an injury, render life saving first aid if you are
qualified to do so and if it is safe to do so. At the same time, or as soon
as possible, you or a bystander should call EMS (Emergency Medical
Services), then your local law enforcement agency. In most areas, dialing
911 on a cell phone or any other telephone can place emergency calls. To
reduce the risk of shock in serious injuries, you may consider opening the
window to allow fresh air.
- Some jurisdictions require you by law to move your vehicle off the
travelled portion of the roadway as part of a “quick clearance policy” while
others prefer for the vehicle to be left in place to review as part of the
investigation, as long as it is safe to do so. Check with your local law
enforcement office on this matter in advance. However, safety considerations
and good judgement will remain important in determining whether or not to
move the vehicle in any given situation. Safety considerations should
- Set up road flares or other emergency signalling device to alert other
drivers of the road hazard. Take caution however with road flares in the
event of gas spills and leaking fuel tanks. Flares should be set up a safe
distance from the vehicle and many law enforcement agencies recommend
setting up “red reflective triangles” instead of using flares. Another
motorist or bystander can stand at the side of the roadway and caution other
motorists to slow down, coming upon the scene.
- If you are in a high traffic area and it is not safe to leave the
vehicle, remain in your seat with your seat belt fastened. If it is safe to
leave the vehicle and your vehicle is un-operational, leave the vehicle and
get off the roadway a safe distance from the travelled portion of the
- Once the crash scene is stabilised, do not discuss fault with the
other driver(s). A discussion of fault with the other driver(s) can lead to
arguments, which in itself can pose a danger given the heightened emotions
with the situation at hand. It is appropriate at this point to exchange
information such as license plate number, insurer, policy number, phone and
address. Be sure photo identification matches the identification holder. It
is also appropriate at this point to obtain similar information from
witnesses (a witness being anyone other than who was in any of the vehicles
involved in the crash).
- Cooperate completely with law enforcement personnel and EMS personnel.
They are there to help you. Provide all the information they require and
follow their instruction. The law enforcement officer will record facts of
the incident, take statements and write citations based upon observed
violations of the law. Your insurer or lawyer may use this information to
assess fault and liability.
- Call your parents and inform them of your situation. Tell them if you
require any assistance such as medical aid or transportation. Assuming the
situation is under control and you are safe, assure them of your safety so
that they do not take aggressive action to meet you at the crash scene or
hospital. You may need to tell your parents to respond in a safe and calm
manner as they will be worried and scared about your well-being.
Many jurisdictions have specific laws with respect to reportable
collisions and collisions involving highway property. All drivers are
encouraged to contact their local law enforcement agency to learn about the
specific laws in their area. Lastly, as the result of some collisions, you
may have to take action in a manner not specified, but dictated by the
situation. Above all, remain calm; assess the situation and act first with a
regard to personal safety and the safety of others. Before heading out
consider placing safety items that should be kept in trunk or rear area for
emergencies related to crashes, i.e., flares, orange cones, disposable
camera, heat blanket, pad and pencil, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, etc.
The I Promise Program (www.ipromiseprogram.com) recommends all parents
sign a parent-youth safe driving contract to reduce the risk of car crashes.
This survey was conducted by the I Promise Program – a teen safe driving
initiative that promotes parents as role models by entering into a mutual
safe driving contract with their teen. To provide accountability, a rear
window decal is then affixed to the vehicle. The decal display a toll free
number and the question, “Am I driving safely?” Calls are received by a call
center and responses are sent by letter only back to the family. Youth,
parents, community members, police and interested stakeholders in traffic
safety have participated in developing this program. www.ipromiseprogram.com.