James Dean, Princess Diana, comedian Sam Kinison, TLC rapper Lisa (Left Eye) Lopes, Grace Kelly, artist Jackson Pollock, and most recently, Paul Walker of “Fast and Furious” fame. The tragic thing they all have in common…
A fatal car crash.
No one gets into their vehicle wondering if an automobile accident is in their future. But they do happen. Everyday.
Traffic fatalities fall within the top five leading causes of death in the United States. Yet, they make up a surprisingly low percentage of the total number of automobile accidents in a year.
In fact, information compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that of the total accidents in 2015 only .5-percent resulted in fatalities. But that begs the question: What about the other 99.5-percent?
It’s not only a huge percentage, it’s a huge number. That’s why anyone driving a vehicle today should pay attention.
What Are the Odds of a Car Crash?
This is not a doomsday post. But it is a reality check.
The NHTSA also reports almost 6.3 million automobile accidents in the United States in 2015. The report also discussed the fact that the number of people injured in a car crash saw an increase from 2.34 million in 2014 to 2.44 million in 2015. The U.S. Department of Transportation considers this 4.5-percent increase “statistically significant.”
The reason for the increase: our roads and highways and interstates experienced the largest increase of vehicle miles traveled since 1992.
The bottom line — as a nation we are driving more.
As far as overall trends go, we seem to be in a cycle of increase. With these increases comes the unfortunate possibility of having an auto accident.
So now that we’ve determined it’s a serious possibility, let’s talk about what to do in case of an accident. Knowing what might happen should not induce fear. Realizing the possibility should inspire drivers to prepare.
The following is a list of important items and tools to have on hand in case of an accident. Some items will help provide comfort after wrecking your vehicle. Others may help someone survive after a car crash.
We’ve broken down the list into categories of severity of automobile accident.
- Injured in a car crash
Whether your accident involves another vehicle or occurs on a lonely stretch of road, there’s one difference maker. Preparation.
Must-Have Tools in the Event of a Fender Bender
Anything that takes a driver’s concentration off the road can cause an accident. The majority of these are avoidable, but unfortunately, they still happen. In the case of a minor collision, a driver might need one or all of these next few tools.
First Aid Kit
A first aid kit may be your first line of defense for many minor injuries. Besides bandages and antibiotic ointment, a first aid kit should have an over-the-counter pain reliever such as Ibuprofen or aspirin.
Also, make sure to stock your first aid kit with some helpful items:
- Hand sanitizer
- Bug spray
- Cotton balls
- Gauze pads
- Ace bandage
Purchase a first aid kit that comes fully stocked or create your own and store it in a plastic tote with a lid.
Charged Cell Phone
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s the “charged” part that is the most important. A properly charged phone may make the difference between getting help quickly or not getting any help at all.
Inexpensive are available and make an intelligent addition to any car crash safety kit.
Reflective Triangles or Road Flares
Having at least three reflective triangles is the recommendation by the American Red Cross. These are very important if your car crash happens at night, on the highway or in bad weather conditions.
Thanks to today’s technology you can also get LED road flares. These emergency safety flares are an excellent alternative to the incendiary flares of the past. Using LED flares reduces the risk of fires and are more environmentally friendly.
LED emergency safety flares are safe to hold in your hand. Place them on the ground to identify a vehicle collision or use them to signal for help.
Foam Tire Sealant
Vehicle collisions will often cause flat tires. A tire sealant will come in handy if the tire’s damage isn’t beyond repair.
Many newer vehicles now come with tire-sealant kits instead of spare tires. The kit includes a miniature air compressor and a replaceable can of sealant.
Regardless of which type you use, it’s imperative to only drive on the sealed tire for as little time as possible. Most sealant products have a limit of 100 miles. This should be more than enough to get you somewhere safe.
Jumper cables should be standard in any vehicle.
They should be at least 10 feet in length and coated with at least 8-gauge rubber.
Standard 12 ft cables work well for medium to light cars and trucks. Look for cables with red and black clamps for ease of identification and rubber coated for safety.
Must-Have Tools When Injured in a Car Crash
As with any type of accident, there are minor or major injuries. In either case, having some of the following items available can make the situation bearable.
Blanket or Warm Clothes
In Louisiana, this may seem odd, but there a couple months every year when after a crash, it may be necessary to keep yourself or a passenger in your car warm. They may also be the only source of comfort for someone who has sustained a more serious laceration or other injury. Keep injured automobile crash victims warm until paramedics arrive. It can make a big difference in their recovery.
Space blankets, also known as mylar or emergency blankets, come in compact form for easy storage. They are typically used by racers after marathons in cold weather, search and rescue teams, and have many unique uses other than as a source of warmth in an emergency.
Tow Strap or Rope
Choose a tow rope made of a sturdy nylon material. We recommend a tow rope strong enough to tow another vehicle up to 6,000 lbs.
You should only use the tow rope to move your vehicle or another undrivable vehicle off to the side of the road, out of the way of traffic. Do not attempt to tow a wrecked vehicle for long distances. This is a safety hazard to yourself and other drivers.
Yes. The tape of a thousand uses will also come in handy after a car crash. You may need to use duct tape to reattach pieces of a vehicle to move it to a safe distance off the road.
Duct tape is also a very effective binder for broken bones and bleeding wounds. Of course, only wind duct tape around a body part for a short period of time.
Flashlight and Batteries
Always carry a flashlight in your vehicle.
Again, LED is the way to go with this item. Flashlights now come in so many shapes and sizes, they are easy to store.
Buy a flashlight that is magnetic; that way you can store your flashlight in an easy-to-reach place. Having access to a flashlight in an emergency is a good practice.
Stephen Babcock Safety Tip: Make sure the flashlight is waterproof!
A flashlight has many uses at the scene of an accident:
- Assist you while fixing a flat
- Signal warnings to other drivers of the oncoming wreck
- Flag down other drivers for help
- Provide light during information exchange with another driver
- Illuminate your vehicle to assess damages
The obvious use is for warmth which is only necessary a couple months out of the year here in Louisiana. But, you may also find gloves useful while using tools for certain vehicle repairs. Gloves protect hands while changing a tire, touching hot engine parts under the hood, or attaching a tow rope to a vehicle.
Must-Have Tools When Stranded After a Car Crash
For people who travel long distances through remote areas, these next few must-haves may be the difference between life and death. It’s better to have and not need them than to need them in an emergency and not have them available.
You’ve heard the stories. Someone’s grandma took a wrong turn on her way home after Christmas and ended up stranded for three days. She survived on peanut M&Ms and the random bottles of water in her car.
You can survive much longer without food than you can without water. Staying hydrated is also important should you or a passenger sustain injuries.
Water will also be useful for cleaning wounds if necessary.
Automobile accidents happen during any season. Summer time has its own set of factors to consider. Preparation for a crash during winter may save your life.
Having a way to keep yourself sheltered from the elements should be a priority. In some instances after a wreck, you may have to stay outside your vehicle.
Inexpensive plastic ponchos are available in any camping section. You’ll be glad you included it in your emergency car crash kit when you’re changing a tire in the pouring rain.
If your automobile ends up in a ditch or field way off the road a whistle will come in handy. It will save you from yelling at passersby and is much louder than a person can scream.
Being prepared means planning for the unforeseen.
Travelers who drive remote roads and long stretches of highway should pay special attention to this item. A food stash will provide the energy you need to perform necessary tasks. If stranded, having a source of nourishment could be imperative to your survival.
Individually wrapped snacks (think protein bars) make a great choice and are easy to store. Your emergency kit needs food that does not require cooking, has a long shelf life, and can be opened easily by hand.
After a car crash that leaves you off the road, you may find your vehicle stuck in mud, sand, or snow. A lightweight folding shovel is ideal. Choose a shovel made from a sturdy metal with a pointed tip.
Visit your local army surplus store for a quality utility shovel.
Maintaining Your Kit
After assembling a car crash kit remember to perform an occasion audit. You should:
- Keep survival items neatly packed together (a carry-all type bag works well for this)
- Store food and water in tightly closed plastic or metal containers
- Replenish supplies every six months
- Replace expired items as needed
- Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.
Safety Note: You cannot anticipate the type of accident you may have. We recommend that your emergency pack have every item listed above.
The Aftermath of a Car Crash
Getting into a car crash is not something anyone expects to happen. The unfortunate reality is that it does.
By preparing for different accident scenarios, you can make a bad situation tolerable. By learning important safety measures before an accident happens, you have a better chance of surviving.
Whether an accident involved only your car or multiple vehicles, it is always a good idea to seek out someone who can help. Make sure you are not taken advantage of and get the necessary treatment you deserve.
If you’ve been injured, Stephen Babcock of Babcock Injury Lawyers is standing by to help you.
Your case — and your future will be our top priority. When we meet with you, we will review your case with you for free and after you hire us you will have Stephen’s 100% Client Satisfaction Guarantee.