Almost any holiday travel adventure can bring the increased possibility of something going wrong. Just the fact that more people travel during the holidays is reason enough to be extra cautious in situations we might normally take for granted.
“If you hit, scrape or otherwise damage a parked car – or if you’re the victim of such an accident – don’t panic, ” says State Farm Insurance on their website.
On the way to holiday events by land or air, an increased number of travelers in the mix can bring greater opportunity for long lines and short tempers. Parking lots at shopping malls, big box stores and supermarkets are packed, increasing the possibility of a fender bender too.
Know what to do when a minor accident happens with these tips:
Drivers need to stay at the scene. Surveillance cameras can record you leaving if you drive away, turning a simple accident that might bring a ticket into a hit-and-run violation that could put you in jail.
Find the other driver. Hitting a parked car, there won’t be anyone right there to exchange insurance information with. Waiting for them to return is one option. Another is to report the accident in a single store parking lot to a store manager who might ask for “the owner of a blue Ford pickup” over the store’s loudspeaker system. At a huge shopping mall, waiting could take hours so a mall security or police report might be a better idea.
Leave a note. Basic information like your name, phone number and a brief explanation of the accident can be placed in a secure spot on the car. Write down the license plate number and take a photo of the damage if you have a camera with you.
Walk around and record. This is a great time to pull out the smartphone and take still photos and video recordings of the accident scene. AAA and some insurance company apps have helpful reminders for what to do in case of an accident, when your thoughts might be elsewhere thinking things like, “I wonder how much this is going to cost” or “This is not going to be good on my driving record.”
Take notes and get backup. Write down all the numbers that might come up. The other car’s vehicle identification number (VIN), license plate, automaker and model is a must. Names and contact information for other drivers, witnesses and even store managers on duty at the time can be invaluable a year later, when a frivolous lawsuit comes to court.
AAA predicts 43.6 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home over just Thanksgiving, up from last year. A drop in gas prices should bump up holiday travel too. That’s more opportunity for an accident and all the more reason to be prepared for a minor accident so it does not become a major problem later.
[Photo credit: Flickr user chazwags]