How To

10 things to remember if you're in a car crash

Every day, motorists are involved in traffic crashes and poor decisions cost them hundreds or thousands of dollars in excessive towing and storage fees and repair costs. Here are 10 key points to consider:

One of the realities of driving an automobile is the possibility of being involved in a collision. It’s estimated that one out of every four people who drive will be involved in a traffic accident in their lifetime.

That’s not including the thousands of smaller accidents that occur each year, where motorists avoid making claims to avoid increases in their insurance premiums.

According to Transport Canada, auto collisions cost the province of Ontario $17.9 billion per year (2009), not to mention the indirect costs of partial and total disability of victims and lost workdays — and the pain and suffering of victims and their families.

More: Why we should stop calling car crashes ‘accidents’

More: 10 things to do after a car crash

Every day, motorists are involved in traffic crashes and poor decisions cost them hundreds or thousands of dollars in excessive towing and storage fees and repair costs.

Here are 10 key points to consider:

1. Drive Safely. The more cautious you are behind the wheel, the less likely you are to be involved in an accident. Safe driving includes obeying the rules of the road, avoiding distractions (no texting, eating or playing with gadgets), never driving while intoxicated and keeping your vehicle properly maintained. Be aware of road conditions and proper tire care.

2. Safety First. Make sure that you have some basic First-Aid and CPR training. You never know when you might be called upon to provide some form of roadside medical assistance or provide comfort for someone who’s been injured.

3. Call the police. If total damages to all vehicles exceed $1,000, police must be notified. If your vehicle isn’t drivable, a tow truck will take it to the nearest Reporting Centre.

4. Select a Collision Repair Facility. Choose a facility that you know and trust. It could be a new car dealership; all dealers have collision repair facilities on site, or they are affiliated with a reputable shop. Get to know the company and the repair procedures.

5. Get to know the facility. Collision repair shops are happy to provide information about how the repair process works, and they will gladly provide a tour of their facilities.

6. Exchange Information. Regardless of the extent of the vehicle damage or personal injuries, obtain appropriate information (name, address, phone number, insurance company and policy number) from all parties involved, including witnesses.

7. Understand Your Rights. Contact your insurance company soon after the accident. Make sure it understands that you expect the repairs to be carried out using original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts for your make and brand. Your insurance company may recommend a repair facility, but the final choice is always yours.

8. Don’t Sign a Tow Authorization Form. A tow truck operator may ask you to sign a waiver at the accident scene. Don’t. Tow truck drivers in Ontario are unregulated and some are mostly interested in serving their own interests (as evidenced by the recent case where two drivers were caught racing to an accident scene and are now facing stunt driving charges). Instruct to have your vehicle towed to a collision facility of your choosing. If you don’t know where to have your vehicle towed, send it to your new car dealer until you decide who will perform the repairs.

9. Roadside Assistance. Most manufacturers offer Roadside Assistance programs on new vehicles. Plus, your insurance company will cover any towing charges, within reason.

10. Be Properly Equipped. If you’re planning to take a long road trip (or travel to a remote area), take along provisions such as a flashlight, blanket, First-Aid kit, matches, bottled water, jumper cables, appropriate clothing and a cellphone.

On that last point, a smartphone can be a handy device at an accident scene, for contacting the police, requesting medical aid or taking pictures of a damaged vehicle to assist in a police investigation or an insurance claim.

But tow truck operators and first responders are reporting that motorists (and passengers) with smartphones are snapping pictures of accident scenes as they drive past.

This is reckless and puts your safety and that of other motorists at risk. Plus, it causes traffic jams. All motorists and passengers who are not directly involved in an accident should avoid taking pictures at accident scenes.

This column represents the view of TADA. Email or visit

Sandy Liguori, president of the Toronto Automobile Dealers Association, is a new car dealer in the GTA.

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