What to Do in a Fender Bender

Here’s hoping you never experience a car accident, but the possibility of being involved in a crash is very much a fact of driving. That’s why it’s important to know exactly what to do and what steps to take to protect yourself and others. 

What is a fender bender? 

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a fender bender is a “minor automobile accident.” However, the impact can be anything but minor, and whether you’re the victim or you’re the one who caused the crash, the instance has the potential to cause a range of problems and hassles after the fact.  

Often in a fender bender, one of the fenders of your car (which extend beyond the front and rear of your car) becomes indented or crushed, and that’s how this type of crash got its name. 

How do fender benders happen? 

A crash like this can be the result of a driver following the car in front of them too closely. When they must come to a stop, they don’t have adequate stopping distance, so they wind up slamming into the other car.  

Texting, backing up into another car, or misjudging the space between your vehicle and another vehicle (such as in a parking lot) are some of the other reasons fender benders happen. 

How to avoid a fender bender

Preventing fender benders from happening in the first place is, of course, the best thing to do. Practicing defensive driving can protect you from any number of road hazards and dangers, including getting in a crash. 

Here are a few ways you can avoid causing a fender bender: 

  • Don’t drive distracted (that includes putting your phone on silent and out of reach).
  • Check your blind spots before making any lane changes or other lateral maneuvers. 
  • Take extra precautions in parking lots. 
  • Make sure to allow adequate following distance between you and the car in front of you. 
  • Come to a complete stop at stop signs and observe traffic signals and signs. 

Follow These Steps If You’re in a Fender Bender

Unfortunately, fender benders do happen, and even if we’re committed to careful, smart driving, other drivers may not drive with the same amount of caution or skill. If you do find yourself in one of these situations, here are the steps to take. 

Step 1: Remain calm and confirm everyone is ok

Determine if you or anyone in your vehicle have any obvious personal injuries. You will feel shaken and may even be in shock, so sometimes it’s hard to tell if you’ve suffered a minor injury right away. Serious injuries will likely be evident. Call 911 if someone needs medical attention. 

Step 2: If you can, move your car

You risk another driver hitting you if you stay in the middle of the road. Maneuver your car off to the side of the road if you can, and if you’re physically unable to drive your car (or if your car is inoperable), then turn on your hazard lights. 

Step 3: Call the police

You’ll want to report the crash, even if no one is obviously hurt. They may or may not send a police officer to the scene, but you shouldn’t skip this important step. If the other driver doesn’t stop, you’ll need to share this information with the police, as well as the make and model of the other car and a driver description, if possible. 

Step 4: Assess the damage to your vehicle

While you’re waiting for the police to arrive, take a look at the damage to your car. Take plenty of photos of both vehicles and of anything you think will be helpful to share with insurance or keep for your personal records. 

Step 5: Exchange information with the other driver

This is a critical step, because you will need this information to file a claim with your car insurance company. Here are the details you should exchange: 

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Driver license number and issuing state
  • Insurance company policy numbers and contact information
  • License plate number
  • Make, model and year of the cars

In addition, if there are witnesses, get their names and contact information. 

One more thing on this step: When you’re exchanging information, remain professional and calm, and don’t discuss fault.

Step 6: Call your insurance company

Your insurance company is there to help you file a claim and answer questions. 

Need more driving expertise? Learn how to deal with all kinds of driving situations with Stop and Go Driving School’s classes. Contact us today.