Distracted Driving and What You Should do After a Traffic Accident

In the United States, nine people die every day in car accidents involving distracted drivers according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Distracted driving causes up to 3,500 crashes in Nevada every year and more than 50 deaths in Nevada were related to distracted driving in the past five years. In 2011, Nevada banned the use of handheld cell phones while driving. The penalty for talking or texting while driving, carries a fine of up to $250.00, yet there are still many drivers violating this law every day in Las Vegas. The Nevada Department of Transportation has cautioned drivers:

In fact, driving while talking or texting can delay your reaction time as much as driving legally drunk, even if it is by Bluetooth or other hands-free method.

Even the most cautious drivers are at risk for getting in an accident with the rising number of distracted drivers on the road.

If you’ve never been in a traffic accident, you may not know what your legal responsibilities are following an accident.

-Always stop after the accident. Even if you think there is no damage to the other vehicle or object, you need to stop. You have a legal duty to stop but you may need to stop at a safe nearby location to avoid causing another accident. In addition, fleeing the scene could cause you to be blamed for an accident that was not actually your fault.

-Always check to see if your passengers or occupants of the other vehicle are injured. You have a duty to render aid or call for an ambulance.

-Always exchange information, including your driver’s license and insurance with the other party. Make sure you take a picture of the other party’s driver’s license.

-Always get the name and phone number of any witnesses to the accident. Do not forget to get the names of any passengers in the other vehicles.

-Always take pictures of the accident scene but do not stand in a busy street to take pictures. Look for a sidewalk or other safe area to photograph the damage.

Duty to Report the Accident. You have a duty to report an accident with injuries or property damage to law enforcement, but if there are no injuries or significant property damage, a police officer may not come to the scene. If you contact the police and are informed that an officer will not be sent to the scene, you can still report the accident to your nearest law enforcement office or Nevada State Police. Should an officer come to the scene, make sure you obtain his name, badge number and contact information.

-Never decline medical care if you are injured. In addition, if you start feeling pain from the accident in the days after the accident, do not delay seeing a doctor.

-Do not admit fault. Often in the moments after an accident, you are in shock and unsure exactly what caused the accident. Sometimes the other party will blame you for the accident, but you should not admit fault. You should limit your conversation with the other party to making sure no one in their vehicle was injured, getting the names of all passengers and exchanging insurance information.

-Almost all accidents should be reported to your insurance company. You may need to review your insurance policy, but most require a statement from you after an accident. Many people call their insurance company from the scene, but you need to make sure that your vehicle is parked in a safe location prior to making this call.

-Consult an attorney if you are injured and need advice on your rights. An experienced attorney can guide you and help you navigate the process to ensure you are able to receive the medical care you need.

Five Tips for Taking Accident Photos
1. Remember to get a picture of the entire accident scene. When possible, take photographs of the vehicle prior to moving from the scene.
2. Take photographs of all vehicle involved and be sure to include the license plates.
3. Take close up pictures of damage, including any interior damage especially if the airbags deployed.
4. Look for skid marks and anything that could have caused the accident, such as road construction, potholes, faulty lights or obscured road signs.
5. Take picture of any visible injuries of any person who claims injury at the scene.

Tips for driving Again after an Accident

Bring a Friend- If you are feeling nervous about driving after an accident, try to bring someone with you on your first drive. Having a friend or family member with you will make you feel safer and they can take over if you feel too overwhelmed to drive. If you are still feeling anxious after your first drive, try to arrange a few more drives with a comforting passenger so you can regain your driving confidence.

Start with Shorter Drives- If you have the option, start with shorter drives, during non-peak traffic times. If you simply cannot alter your schedule to start with shorter drives, do not avoid the crash site. Avoiding the crash site or altering your route around the crash site will feed your anxiety. We recommend going back to your regular path, so you can become comfortable with the routes you have to travel.

Consider a Defensive Driving Course- Many people never had any formal driving instruction, while others took a short course in high school. Learning defensive driving tips from a professional can decrease your driving anxiety. Also, gaining practice in situations that could become dangerous will help you learn procedures to minimize risk.

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