News from the Front: New Driver in an Accident
My 23 y.o. daughter recommended that I write and explain to people who have just gotten their licenses what they should do if they are involved in an accident. The advice I would give her is, first, remain calm. Studies have shown that as the summer months arrive and the temperature rises, people actually get angrier more quickly (google it, I'm not kidding). As my daughter is barely 5'2", weighs nothing soaking wet and couldn't fight her way out of a paper bag, my second piece of advice is to stay in the car until you determine 1) that you can move without pain and 2) the other person seems sane and reasonable. That said, call some significant person in your family to let them know what happened and where you are and call the police, not necessarily in that order.
The police are going to want to see 1. your driver's license, 2) the registration on the car (paper the size of a deck of cards with the owner and car listed) and 3) proof that the car you are driving is insured. Toward that end, you should be aware of where those documents are in the car (glove box?) in any vehicle you are driving. If the other driver demands to exchange information before the police arrive, tell them who you are but indicate that you will be providing your identification to the police and would rather wait until they arrive.
While at the scene, provide the police with your thoughts on how the accident happened and tell the police of any injuries of which you are already aware. Every situation is different, if the cars appear to be smoking, it might be a good idea to get as far away from the vehicles as possible. On the other hand, if someone is complaining of neck or back injuries, the best advice is to let the emergency responders be the only people who attempt to move that person as they may need to be placed on a gurney or back board to protect against further injury.
If you do get out of the car and can safely move around (not on a parkway or high speed highway), use your smart phone to take pictures of the position of the vehicles, the damage to the vehicles and particularly, the license plates of the vehicles so that you can tie your photos to the cars listed in the police report that will generate. This may become especially important should the issue of who "caused" the accident come into dispute (as is likely).
My singular piece of advice is to be kind. You are never wrong to do the right thing. Road rage is a real issue on the highways and parkways of Long Island and New York City and kindness can do a world of good when people are upset or in shock and may not be their kindest selves.