What To Do If You Are In A Car Crash This Holiday Season

First and foremost, you must stop. According to the Code of Virginia § 46.2-894, a driver has the duty to stop in the event of accident involving injury or death or damage to property under the circumstances described as follows:

The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident in which a person is killed or injured or in which an attended vehicle or other attended property is damaged shall immediately stop as close to the scene of the accident as possible without obstructing traffic, and report his name, address, driver’s license number and vehicle registration number forthwith to the State Police or local law-enforcement agency, to the person struck and injured if such person appears to be capable of understanding and retaining the information, or to the driver or some other occupant of the vehicle collided with or to the custodian of other damaged property.[1]

Here are some helpful tips if you are involved in a crash this holiday season.

1.    Check for injuries. If anyone is injured, call 911 immediately.

2.    If no one is injured, and traffic is blocked, move the vehicles to the nearest safe location, then call 911.

3.    Notify law enforcement when:

a.    There are injuries or fatalities.

b.    Vehicles can’t be moved.

c.    One of the drivers appears to be intoxicated.

d.    Damage exceeds $1,500.

e.    One of the drivers has no insurance.

f.     One of the drivers leaves the crash scene.

4.    Warn oncoming traffic to prevent other crashes.  Turn on your hazard flashing lights if still operable.  Raise your hood or use flares. 5.    If you need help:

a.    Tie a white handkerchief to your antenna or door.

b.      Wave a red flag.

6.    Use a flashlight at night. Be patient while waiting for help. Don’t become a pedestrian fatality on the highway by putting yourself in an area of danger.

7.    If you must leave your car, keep away from traffic. If there is a guardrail, stand on the side away from the highway if you can.  If you must walk to get help, walk on the right side of the road.  If you can, walk on the sidewalk or shoulder of the road.

8.    Keep in mind that crossing a highway or trying to stop traffic is dangerous, especially at night or when visibility is low.  Use flares or other traffic control if possible; direct traffic in person only when necessary for safety and as a last resort.

9.    Exchange information with others involved in the crash, including:

a.    Name.

b.    Address.

c.    Phone number.

d.    Driver’s license number.

e.    License plate number.

f.     Vehicle make/model/year.

g.    Insurance information.

10. When calling 911 to report an accident, give an exact description of the crash location:

a.    Route or highway number, including direction of travel.

b.    Street names.

c.    City or county.

d.    Nearby landmarks (business, house, etc.).

e.    Distance to nearest road landmark (exit number, mile marker, bridge, intersection, etc.).

11. If you are injured, seek medical treatment immediately or as soon after the accident as you realize you are injured and are able to get medical attention.

Remember to think safety and be aware of the dangers that an accident creates on a highway or roadway.  Contact the police and get help as soon as possible.  In the meantime, be cautious and take steps to prevent another accident from occurring. [2]


[1] See Va. Code §46.2-894 at http://leg1.state.va.us/000/cod/46.2-894.HTM .

[2] For more safety tips, see the Virginia State Police website at http://www.vsp.state.va.us/Safety_Tips.shtm.