What To Do If You’re In A Collision

There are so many things we want in life; happiness, good health, to prosper and enjoy life, plus many other things I’m sure. The same can be said about things we don’t want in life; illness, loss of job, personal tragedy, among others. We also don’t want is to get into a collision while driving. Regardless of what we may want or don’t want, it’s important to know what to do if a collision does happen to you. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the things you should do and not do if you have a collision.

There are a few things to think about if involved in a collision. The first is to protect the scene from further damage. If the vehicle damage is severe enough that the vehicle can’t be driven, put on your hazard lights. Since those flashing lights can be difficult to be seen from a distance, especially in traffic, put your hood up as well. This will help drivers behind to notice you sooner and make early lane changes around you. Flares are also a good idea if you have them.

If your vehicle is drivable, move the vehicle off the road, perhaps into a parking lot or gas station. This helps to remove the visual distraction to other drivers as they pass. By moving your vehicle out of the way, it will also give you a safe place to exchange information with the other driver. The information to exchange would include name, address, contact information of the driver, vehicle information, plus insurance company and policy number. Since cell phones are so common and come with a camera, I would also suggest you take a photo of the other vehicle including damage and their licence plate to back you up in case they provide false information.

Typically, the police won’t come to a collision scene unless the vehicles are not driveable, there’s personal injury, there’s substantial property damage or you suspect criminal activity; such as impaired driving. In many jurisdictions, you can take your vehicle to a Collision Reporting Centre at the local police station. They’ll take your information and photos of the damage. To know for sure, just call the police while at the scene and they’ll inform you.

Before heading off to the Collision Reporting Centre, it would be a good idea to get information from any witnesses that may help you. Also take down other information such as time of day, lighting, what was the road surface like, colour of the traffic light, and so on. Making notes that may help you when the police arrive or if you do go to the Collision Reporting Centre.

Getting into a collision can be very traumatic. Take a deep breath and make no admissions or take any blame for what happened. If the driver is becoming belligerent, call the police immediately; regardless of the type of damage your vehicle may have. Collisions do happen, but now you’ll know what to do if it does happen to you.

-Scott Marshall is Director of Training for Young Drivers of Canada and started in road safety in 1988. He was a judge on the first 3 seasons of Canada’s Worst Driver on Discovery Network. Scott started writing columns on driving for his community paper in 2005. Since then his columns have been printed in several publications including newspaper, magazines and various web-sites. You can visit his own blog at