They say that 52 percent of automobile accidents happen within five miles of home, and 77 percent happen within 15 miles of home. This is because people are in familiar surroundings and tend to let down their guard, leaving more room for mistakes. While it certainly sucks to get into an accident in any location, at least when you are close to home you are also close to everything familiar, including the doctors and hospitals that are on your insurance plan. The big hassle is those 23 percent of times when an accident occurs far from home, like during a vacation road trip, or while you are travelling for work. In those situations, you are far from everything familiar, which can make an already stressful situation worse.
But accidents are a part of life, and an accident on the road is a strong possibility. Rather than get caught unawares, here are some helpful tips for preparing for an accident while traveling, whether domestically or abroad.
Learn the Rules of the Road
The best way to deal with an accident while traveling is to avoid one altogether.
Unfamiliarity is one of the biggest contributors to automobile accidents while driving on vacation. Even if you are traveling within your home country, there could still be minor differences in driving rules from one municipality to the next, and those minor differences could lead to big accidents.
For example, if you are from a state that does not allow left turns on red, driving unawares in a state where they are allowed could cause you to get into an accident because you won’t be expecting them.
When you add things like driving on the other side of the road, or less than optimal road conditions, only compounds the risk.
Regardless of where you are driving, do your best to familiarize yourself with the driving conditions and the driving rules at your destination. If you are going to be driving on the other side of the road, you should also familiarize yourself with operating a vehicle under those conditions.
Get Your Paperwork in Order
Of course, driver preparation is only one part of the equation. You also need to make sure that all of your paperwork is in order in the event that you end up getting into an accident anyway.
· Check your health insurance policy to determine your coverage if you need to go to a doctor or hospital outside of your provider network, and especially if you need emergency care abroad.
· You should also determine if you need travel insurance, especially if you will be traveling abroad. You can check an independent dealer, or you can see if you can get any type of travel coverage through your current insurance provider, or your auto club membership.
· If you are traveling for business, check with your auto insurance to see if there are any coverage limitations for work travel.
· If you are driving a rental, you should check your auto insurance to see if there are any coverage limitations for rental cars.
· Keep copies of your insurance cards and your medical information in the vehicle. This should include any medications that you are taking, any drug allergies, and the contact information for your family doctor and family members. If you are injured in an accident, you might not be able to provide this information.
The last thing you want to do is find out that you’re not covered after you have had an accident.
Research Hospitals and Healthcare
Familiarize yourself with the hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies in and around your destination. If you are taking a road trip, you should also familiarize yourself with any medical facilities along your route. Even if you don’t get into an accident, you might find that you need to use these services for any minor mishaps you might encounter on the road. If you get sick suddenly or realize that you have left part of your prescription at home and that you need your doctor to call in a new script at the nearest pharmacy.
You should also familiarize yourself with the emergency assistance numbers for your area. In the U.S. the emergency number is 911, but other countries use different numbers.
You can find more tips for avoiding road trip disasters here.
If You Do Have an Accident
The steps for dealing with an accident are pretty much the same, whether the accident occurs at home or abroad.
· You should stay in your car until help arrives. The only exception is if your vehicle is in danger, in which case you should exit the vehicle as safely as possible, and move to a safe location out of the flow of traffic;
· If you have access to a phone, call for emergency assistance;
· Once help has arrived, you should seek medical assistance if you are injured. If you are not injured, you can use this time to take pictures of the accident and take down the information of the other drivers;
· If you have to sign a statement, get a copy for your records;
· Contact your insurance companies as soon as possible.
If you are seriously injured, or if there is a dispute about who is at fault, you might also need to contact a specialized car accident lawyer. Make sure this lawyer is familiar with the area in which the accident took place and any recent local or regional legislation that could impact your case.
No one wants to get into an accident, especially not while far from home. However, even if an accident isn’t on your agenda, it’s a good idea to be prepared and know what to do if one happens.