Top Tips If You Are In A Car Crash

Whiplash Physio

There I was, just finished going for a surf session, cruising back up the coast to head home like I have done a hundred times before. But this day was different, who would have known that this is where I would be involved in a 4 car collision and my beloved car to be written off

Here I take you through my experience of the car crash and what you can do if this ever happens to you.

Here are the Car Crash Top Tips

Avoid A Crash:

  1. Be Present

  2. Drive Defensively

  3. Get Your Car Serviced

After A Crash:

  1. Check Yourself First!

  2. Check For Danger: Before You Get Out Of The Car

  3. Check The Passengers

  4. Watch Out For Shock

  5. Document, Document, Document

  6. Is Your Car Driveable?

  7. Call Your Insurance Company

Let me set the scene… It was a brisk but sunny winters day in Perth and West Coast Drive was abuzz with the usual joggers, dog walkers, cyclists, skateboarders, Mum’s and kids getting in their daily sweat and dose of winter sun.

I had been driving up West Coast Drive cautiously as I knew it was a busy day. I noticed a driver behind me that was not really consistent with keeping their distance, one minute really close, the next, extremely far away.

About halfway home, the car in front of me wanted to turn off into a side street so I slowed to a stop. If you know West Coast Drive, you know you have to stop and wait, there’s no way around turning cars!

When I had stopped I looked up in my rear vision mirror and to my surprise and horror, that the car behind me was not slowing down…low and behold…he was looking down.

I braced for impact…said a few curse words under my breath and…

BAM!!! I was hit! Hard!

This is where the fun began…

Crash Image.jpg
Crash #2.jpg

My immediate reaction was to ensure I was alright, so I quickly scanned over my head, face, neck, arms, back, legs and feet and found nothing immediate that I had to worry about.

I got out of my car and went to the people in the cars in front of me. To this day I am still unsure why I did not check the driver who caused the crash first. However, as I am a father of 2, I could see children in the cars in front so I guess instinctively, I wanted to make sure they were ok first.

Thankfully they were!

A young lad in the car ahead was a little shaken with mild shock and a baby in the front car was crying but very quickly soothed; they had no injuries which was a huge blessing.

I then went to the person in the car behind me and thankfully they were also ok; no visible injuries, no limp, just speechless.

So this leads me into the meat and potatoes of this blog post…

Prevention is better than a cure… Avoid a crash, learn how to drive defensively.

Here are 3 tips on how to avoid a crash:

#1. Be Present

Being on your phone while driving is the worst offender. In WA alone there has been an increase of 37% of people being caught and fined. An alarming number!

The article can be found here: Deadly Mobile Phone Addiction While Driving

You’ll also get struck with a $400 fine and 3 demerits if you’re caught creating, sending or even looking at a text! Don’t believe me? Take a look at the road rules.

Here are a few well produced serious videos on the impact that distracted driving can have on not only your life but the lives of others #Itcanwait

#2. Drive Defensively

Learning how to drive to prevent a crash is better than hitting or being hit by someone. Defensive Driver Training is an advanced training that can teach you how to spot potential hazards and also to control your car in emergency situations, a skill which is not taught in basic learn to drive courses.

Don’t act like everyone is a great driver because in my experience…people are highly over confident and extremely under skilled.

Check out some of Perth’s local Advanced Driving Courses:

 #3. Get Your Car Serviced

Make sure your car is mechanically fit to be on the road but more importantly, ensure that the safety features on your car are functioning to the best of their ability.

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I get my car serviced at Schneider Mechanical in Dianella, they are always quick to tell me when things like brakes, lights and tyres need to be addressed due to safety concerns.

Now onto what to do if you are involved in a car crash!

You have just been hit or had a crash… here are 7 things you need to do immediately:

#1. Check Yourself First!

Take a second, take a deep breath and check your body!

  • Broken bones: Some are obvious - some are not

  • Bleeding: Cuts, lacerations and scrapes

  • Head and neck injuries

  • Hands elbows shoulders

  • Feet, knees hips

  • Lower back and ribs

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#2. Check For Danger: Before You Get Out Of The Car

Check your surroundings for potential danger and hazards, before you open your car door to get out.

  • Oncoming traffic!

  • Glass

  • Fuel

  • Car parts

  • Angry drivers in shock

  • Slippery spots from radiator fluid / oil

#3. Check The Passengers

Administer first aid if required.

If you have not done first aid or you are in need of a refresher, St John Ambulance run courses all year round. You never want to have to use it, but when you do you will be so extremely thankful that you did!

If anyone is seriously injured, call an ambulance immediately on:
000 on landline or,
112 on your mobile phone.

If there is a lot going on, call out to bystanders to assist! We are a community, we should all be helping each other. Way too often we fall into the psychological trap of the Bystander Effect.

 #4. Watch Out For Shock

Shock can be a serious thing to look for after an accident for all people involved in a crash.

Signs of shock can include:

  • Weak or rapid pulse

  • Cold, clammy skin

  • Faintness/dizziness

  • Nausea

For more information on shock and how to deal with shock in an emergency, jump over to the Healthy WA website to find out more.

 #5. Document, Document, Document

Too often shock takes over and we forget an important action to take which is documenting the details of a crash.

Take photos of all the licence plates involved in the crash and the make, model and colour of each car - This comes in handy for an insurance and police report.

Take photos of your car to record the damage and encourage everyone else to do so too.

Important!!! Take a photo of the person’s drivers licence back and front to ensure you capture any address changes. This is proof of who they are. Take down the details of their car insurance if they have any!

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Take down the names and mobile numbers of the other drivers and write down their details; age, gender and appearance of all car occupants. This is what the police crash report will ask you (more on that later).

Write down the location of the crash and record the street and number that your car is parked at, this helps the insurance and the tow company to find your car.

#6. Is Your Car Driveable?


Now you have a few options…

Call the insurance company straight away


Call loved ones to come pick you up

I called my wife first and informed her of the crash and reassured her that I was ok! She came and picked me up from the accident, and while I was waiting I removed nearly everything from the car: Surfboards, tools, loose change…anything of importance really!

Check the glove box, center console and under the seats! And the CD player - I forgot to check this so had to go to the tow yard to get my treasured Metallica CD’s out of the 6 CD stacker!

You never know when you will get your car back! My car was written off as the damage was too extensive so I’m glad I grabbed everything straight away!

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When your car IS driveable…

Carry out the following checks to make sure your car is driveable:

  • Check damaged panels to ensure they are not falling off

  • Check under your car for parts that may be loose

  • Shake the wheels to see if any are clunky

  • Check headlights and brake lights for damage

  • Check steering

  • Check engine

Make sure you check as much as you need to ensure that you are confident it should drive well; is it just cosmetic damage like a few scratches or dents or is it something more serious like wheel damage?

#7. Call Your Insurance Company

This is where all those details you collected earlier (persons involved, damage to car and location) will come in handy, so have them ready!

They will ask if your car is driveable and may organise you a tow truck and maybe even a hire car depending on your level of cover!

Car getting towed?

The tow company will (should) ask you to sign some documentation about the car and get your details. Make sure you get a copy! Ask them where they are taking your car and write it down! I took a photo of the tow car too in case I lost the company details.

Ok, let’s recap over what you have done so far…

  1. Checked Yourself For Injuries

  2. Checked For Danger

  3. Checked Other Passengers

  4. Checked For Shock

  5. Documented Details Of the Crash

  6. Determined If Your Car Was Driveable

  7. Called Your Insurance Company

Next, you may need to lodge a police crash report…

Check here to see you if are required to lodge a report:

This is where all those details you wrote down will come in handy. Set aside 15 - 30 minutes for this as it can be very in-depth.

I am injured, what should I do?

If you are injured in a car crash, firstly you have to go to the right person or place to get the injury seen to. Anything severe, such as head injuries, broken bones, dislocations, concussion, loss of consciousness, severe pain, paralysis, or shortness of breath… get yourself to hospital!

What if I don’t have any immediate injuries but I feel sore the next day?

Aches and pains can start immediately after a crash or 24 - 48 hours afterwards. This is because the body has a delayed response when some injuries occur. Shock can also mask any immediate aches and pains you may have. When the shock wears off…pain and stiffness can kick in!

I always recommend a quick check up from a trusted health or medical professional after a crash to make sure you are in tip top shape!

For example, here are some things that emerged for me shortly after the crash:

  • Strange bruises on each foot (I believe my feet hit the car pedals)

  • Mild right hip discomfort (planting my foot hard on the brake)

  • Both thumbs were sensitive and achy from pushing hard into the steering wheel from the impact

  • Intermittent headaches (these are not common for me)

After these issues were assessed by one of our Physios, I was assured that everything was normal and these things could easily be monitored in case they became worse.

What about injuries that require more care?

  • Get a First Medical Certificate from your GP and a referral to your trusted Physio or health care provider.

  • Depending on your crash circumstances and your level of insurance, your insurer may cover part of your treatments or even all of them!

    • If you don’t have the First Medical Certificate and a referral to a Physio from your GP, then it will be extremely challenging to claim your treatments as part of an insurance claim, so get onto it!

  • For info about how to lodge a Motor Vehicle claim, click here.

If you already have lodged a claim and need Physio treatment, our team are here to help! Our Physio’s Lauren and Adam will be the best suited for you. For more info, click here. Our Exercise Physiologist Andrew is also part of our rehab team for Motor Vehicle claims!

So, we’ve covered the 7 steps of what to do immediately when you’re involved in a crash, police reports, treating injuries and 3 tips on how to become a better driver.

I understand it can be hard to remember all the advice provided in this blog if you were ever in this situation (again…shock doesn’t help us think clearly), but I hope that you can take away a few points if not all of them to keep you and our community safe!

For more information on the services we provide click here!

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