Price Police Officer Tracey Allred investigates the scene of a recent traffic accident. The Utah Highway Patrol and several online sources recommend staying inside a vehicle involved in an accident if possible until the authorities arrive at the scene.
A motor vehicle accident can be a jarring experience for the most experienced driver. And for teens who have barely obtained drivers licenses, traffic mishaps can be devastating.
But by following several standard recommendations, the majority of traffic accidents can be made less painful and expensive.
The informational site www.kidshealth.org, detailed several tips that can be used to minimize the mental and financial strain a teen's first automobile accident can cause.
In 2005, there were more than 6.1 million police-reported traffic crashes in the United States.
"Although you do your best to drive responsibly and defensively, it's still smart to know what to do just in case you end up in an accident. Crashes can be very scary," states the teen health portion of the site.
The web page offers several suggestions for Carbon County residents who become involved in an accident.
Motorists as well as passengers traveling with the drivers should:
â¢Take some deep breaths and calm down.
After a crash, individuals may feel a wide range of emotions, including shock, guilt, fear, nervousness and anger.
However, the website states that taking a few deep breaths or counting slowly to 10 will help an individual involved in a traffic mishap to calm down and deal with the situation.
â¢Keep things safe.
If it is not possible to exit the car, people should keep seatbelts fastened, turn on the vehicle's hazard lights and call 911 while waiting for help to arrive at the accident scene.
â¢Be ready to provide pertinent information when calling to report a traffic accident.
The dispatcher should ask for the name and phone number of the reporting party.
People should tell the dispatcher as much as possible about the incident, including whether there is a fire, traffic hazards or a medical emergency.
Involved parties or eyewitnesses should let the dispatcher know exactly where the accident occurred.
People should give the city road name, road number, mile marking, direction of travel, traffic signs and anything else that can identify the vehicle's current position.
Additionally, people should make sure to stay on the line until the dispatcher has obtained all needed information.
"If you can drive your car and are in an unsafe spot or are blocking traffic, find a safe and legal place to park your car," advised the site. "In some states, however, it's illegal to move your car from the scene of an accident."
Utah is not one of the states in question.
"Safety is always the first concern," said Utah Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Cameron Roden. "We do encourage someone who is blocking a major roadway to move their car out of the way and then stay put."
Roden stressed the fact that drivers should immediately contact law enforcement authorities after a crash.
Additionally, he said people should remain inside the vehicles if possible.
"We don't want someone who has just been in an accident moving around outside of their vehicle," pointed out Roden. "They could be hit by other motorists and there is always the chance the tempers may flair between drivers causing the problem to only get worse."
The UHP representative indicated that motorists should wait for the law enforcement authorities to arrive at an accident scene before inspecting any damages to their vehicles or making contact with the other driver involved in the mishap.
If the traffic mishap is minor, the teen health website recommends that young motorists turn off the engines of the vehicles and, once law enforcement authorities arrive at the scene, they can check the car for damage.
"Also check yourself - not all serious injuries can be seen," advised the website.
The highway patrol recommends that all parties involved in a traffic mishap be checked by medical personnel even if there is no indication of injury.
"If the accident is minor and you feel that you can describe it, try to do so," said the site. "Detailed notes and photos of the scene may help the court and insurance agencies decide who is responsible for the accident."
It is recommended that a person take personal notes and photos of an accident if possible.
Some teens and adults have issues with the accident in the days and weeks following the incident, possibly leading to post traumatic stress syndrome.
The disorder is most common in major accidents and would likely be diagnosed by health professionals following the crash.
However, it is a disorder that is easily missed. The following are symptoms of the illness:
â¢Avoiding emotions or any reminders of the incident.
â¢Constant feelings of anxiousness, crankiness, or anger.
â¢Avoiding medical test or procedures.
â¢Constantly reliving the incident.
â¢Nightmares or trouble sleeping.
For help with the issues, people should contact a mental health care professional.