For many families, summer vacation means piling everyone into a car or van and hitting the road. With so many beautiful and historic destinations in and around Arizona, a road trip is a natural choice for you and your family. Unfortunately, with so many additional cars on the road, a motor vehicle accident can easily happen. In fact, the Arizona DOT reported that there were 116,609 motor vehicle accidents in 2015, and 36,950 of those had injuries or fatalities involved.
With almost one-third of all Arizona accidents resulting in injury or death, it’s important to know how to stay safe on the roads and what to do if you are injured in a car accident this summer.
How to Avoid a Motor Vehicle Accident
While you can’t control the actions of other drivers, you can control your own actions, attention, and reactions. Here are several important ways that you can keep you and your family safer while traveling this summer:
- Buckle Up. Seat belts are a major factor in preventing fatalities and reducing injuries in a motor vehicle accident. Be sure that everyone in your car, including passengers in the back seat, use their seat belts and stay properly seated, even if you aren’t driving very far.
- Use Proper Booster Seats. Children should always be seated in proper car seats or booster seats. As of 2012, Arizona law requires that any child under age 8 and/or under 4 9 in. tall must ride in a booster seat. After a child is 8 years old or is over 4 ft. 9in. tall, they may ride in the backseat with a seat belt.
- Watch for Reckless Drivers. Other drivers may not be paying attention as they drive, and it’s important to watch out for reckless behavior. If you notice erratic steering, significantly varying speeds, or see another driver distracted, keep your distance. It’s better to be a few minutes late than to drive near a distracted or reckless driver.
- Keep the Phone Off. It’s very tempting to use a cell phone to play music or type in a destination address as you are driving, but don’t. Do your part to eliminate motor vehicle accidents and distracted driving by refusing to be distracted yourself. If you must type in a destination or change your music playlist, be sure to pull to the side of the road safely first, or stop in a rest area.
- Employ Defensive Driving. Defensive driving means driving to prevent accidents and reduce dangers. Anticipate scenarios that may occur by watching for children, pedestrians, bicyclists, and more. In northern Arizona, this also means watching for animals such as cats, dogs, birds, deer, elk, and even bears that might wander into the road.
What to Do If You’re in an Accident
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, a motor vehicle accident will happen to you. If you’re in an accident, here are some steps you should take to protect yourself and your rights to recovery.
- Get Medical Attention. Even if you don’t feel hurt, you should always get medical care. It’s possible you’re too in shock to notice the injury, or that you have an injury that you’ll only notice after a couple of days. Getting medical attention is an important part of protecting your rights.
- Be Careful What You Say. Anything you say at the scene of an accident can be used against you if the case goes to court. Be sure not to admit fault, and avoid saying even common things like, “Oh, it’s OK,” or “It’s no big deal.” While you want to be polite, you also need to protect yourself.
- Get the Police Report. Never leave the scene of a motor vehicle accident without having police on the scene to evaluate the accident. A police report is a vital element in settling an accident case, and without a report, the other driver can say nothing ever happened.
- Keep Your Options Open. Insurance adjusters will pressure you to settle quickly, but accepting a settlement means signing away your rights to additional compensation. Be sure to have your case thoroughly evaluated by an independent lawyer before you sign any settlement.
If you want more information about what to do in case of a motor vehicle accident, or to have your case evaluated, contact me today! You can fill out my consultation form online or call me at 602-212-0202. I’ll help ensure your rights are protected, and you receive any compensation you deserve.