With snowy winter weather finally rearing its head, it’s a good time to think a bit about road safety.

No matter how carefully you drive, accidents on the road do happen.

In fact, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation states that roughly 200,000 collisions occur every year. This already staggering figure, however, does not even include accidents that went unreported.

Despite the significant number of accidents in our province, it may be surprising to learn that most Ontarians don’t know what to do (and by extension – what not to do) if they are involved in an accident.

Here are some brief points to keep in mind:

DO

  • Try to stay calm
  • If someone is injured or if you suspect a driver is impaired, call 911 immediately
  • If the situation is deemed unsafe, turn on your flashing hazard lights and, if you should have them, use any cones and flares
  • If you determine that the accident is not an emergency, then you can call the local police
    • They will inform you to visit the nearest Collision Reporting Centre within the next 24 hours. To find one closest to you, please visit accsupport.com
  • Move your vehicle to the side of the road if and when it is safe to do so
  • Document the extent of the damage. Take pictures of both cars and note the road and weather conditions. Note: It’s prudent to do these things before either vehicle is moved
  • Record the name of the other driver, their address, telephone number, driver’s license & plate number, as well as their insurance information. Again, photos can expedite these tasks
  • If any passengers or witnesses are present, make a reasonable attempt to obtain their names, addresses and telephone numbers as well
  • Call your insurance provider
    • Many people believe that simply contacting your insurance company for advice after an accident guarantees that your rates will skyrocket. This is not the case. You can always call your insurance provider to get some direction and then decide whether or not to file a claim. If the crash was not your fault, your rates should not go up
  • If you are in need of a tow truck to move your vehicle, be sure to remove all personal belongings and provide just your car keys to the driver

DO NOT

  • Do not leave the scene of the crash
  • Do not get into a heated debate with the other driver or their passengers. There is no need to escalate an already tense situation
  • Do not admit responsibility or sign any documents to that effect
  • Do not make offers to pay for damages at the scene
    • Any acceptance of liability could be used against you later
  • If your car needs to be towed, do not let any tow truck driver pressure you into towing your vehicle or making a payment upfront
    • Regardless of how helpful they may appear to be, do not let a tow truck driver insist that they take your vehicle to a body shop or garage of their choosing. A driver may sometimes use the chaos of the accident to coerce you into making a very costly decision. Legally, tow trucks are obligated to bring your car to the nearest Collision Reporting Centre
    • If you feel you are being pressured by a tow truck driver, contact your insurance provider for their preferred suppliers and garages, or ask the police to suggest an authorized tow truck operator
  • Do not permit or sign a work order giving permission to make repairs on your vehicle unless and until you receive authorization from your insurance company

It’s winter. Go enjoy yourself, but please be safe out there.