Car Accidents happen — that is just the reality of the world we live in today, so what do you do in the event of a car accident in France? Here are some tips to help you
Accidents happen — that is just the reality of the world we live in today. When it comes to car accidents, we need to accept that it is not in our power to eradicate them altogether. However, it is within our power to put in place safety measures to significantly reduce accidents on the road, as well as ensure that we know what to do if, god forbid, an accident does occur.
Road safety habits are universal habits that everyone should take along with them, no matter where they go. On the other hand, the types of legal procedures that take place in the aftermath of an accident can differ from place to place and are often country-specific. If you ever find yourself frequenting the French roads, it is pertinent that you know what to do in you are involved in a car accident.
Back to Basics
No matter where you are, road safety is a practice that should become a lifelong habit. It is your responsibility to ensure that when you get on the road, you aren’t putting yourself and others at risk. You should be doing all that you can to ensure the safety of everyone in your vehicle, as well as those in the vehicles around obvious non-negotiable safety measures you should take include:
- Having a valid driver’s licence
- Wearing a seatbelt
- Following local road rules
- Obeying the speed limit
- Using your indicators appropriately
- Never driving when intoxicated or under the influence of drugs and alcohol
- Staying alert through the duration of your drive
Two major causes of road accidents, which often go unnoticed, are drowsy driving and using a cell phone while driving. Brad Penneau, whose career in the transportation industry has spanned over 30 years, says that drowsy driving is just as dangerous, if not more so than driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This is because when you reach a level of drowsiness, your brain is just as impaired in its processing abilities as it is when it has been compromised by intoxicants. The National Safety Council confirms that “Driving after going more than 20 hours without sleep is the equivalent of driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08%.”
Signs of drowsiness include excessive yawning, drifting in and out of your lane, not maintaining a constant speed, and blinking frequently.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it is your responsibility to take corrective action by taking a 20-minute nap at a safe stop or consuming caffeine before getting back on the road. The best option, obviously, is to prevent drowsy driving altogether. As stated by Penneau, maintaining a habit of sleeping for 7-9 hours every night can help in avoiding drowsy states. Avoiding frequent usage of drugs and alcohol can also be lifesaving, especially if you work the night shift.
Authorities in France have reported that in the last few years, although the number of accidents caused by speedings and drunk driving has decreased, there has been an unfortunate increase in the number of accidents caused by drivers using their cell phones while on the road. This is a heavy truth — one that shouldn’t be disregarded. With people being more connected now than ever before, it is important to ensure that we adhere to safe usage of our cell phones when it comes to driving. Texting while driving, reading a text on your phone, holding your phone up to your ear, and even looking at your phone’s GPS on your lap are absolute no-gos. When driving, your focus must be entirely on the road and the act of driving. Using your cell phone in any way during the driving process is a type of distraction and can quickly lead to disaster.
CRASH! Now What?
Even if you have taken all the precautions necessary, you might still find yourself in a car accident through no fault of your own. For instance, consider the head-on collision in Saint Romain, and the recent accident near Toulouse. In instances like these, it can be extremely overwhelming to figure out what next steps to take. Thus, it is important to, at the very least, have a mental checklist as to what to do when you have a car accident. In general, it is important to first evaluate how you and any passengers are feeling, and whether it is safe to get out of the vehicle. The next step is to call emergency medical services and local authorities.
In order to protect yourself legally, try to take pictures of the vehicles involved and any injuries you and your passengers might have sustained. These will come in handy during insurance proceedings. In terms of insurance, you should also take down the details of any witnesses and be sure to not immediately admit liability to other drivers involved.
In France, local authorities will give you a Constat Amiable D’Accident Automobile, which is an accident form that you and the other drivers will be asked to fill out. Even though you are not forced to fill out this form, it is in your best interest to do so; the insurance company will probably require it too. When filling out this form, be sure to carefully read through it and be aware of what the other driver has written. Know that when you sign the form, you are legally agreeing to whatever is recorded on it.
After the accident, you should contact your insurance company as soon as possible — usually within the following 5 days. It is also important that you and your passengers all go through thorough medical check-ups in the aftermath of a car accident, to ensure that there are no fractures bones or whiplash that needs to be treated. Usually, your insurance should cover medical injuries as a result of an accident.
For your mental health, it’s important to note that car accidents can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Though PTSD is often associated with veterans, it is essential to recognize that non-veterans can be deeply affected by it too, especially in the wake of events like car accidents. If you notice any of the symptoms of PTSD in yourself or others involved in the accident, be sure to seek treatment immediately.
Car accidents are inevitable. While it is important to know what to do to avoid car accidents, it is equally important to know what to do in case an accident does occur. Use these tips to stay road safe and be prepared, should you ever have a car accident in France.