Why should you get information at the scene?
- To prevent “description drift” and get information while it’s fresh
- To have all parties agree on the facts of the accident, since the “Standards of Fault” will use these facts to find which vehicle (driver) is more than 50% at fault. (Only if you’re more than 50% at fault will you be assessed points under the Safe Driver Insurance Plan.)
- To save yourself hours of chasing down witnesses, trying to explain your side.
Here’s what you should do:
- Get the name and contact information (phone) of any witnesses.
- Draw a simple sketch of the accident, and ask the other driver to sign or initial it; have them include their phone number, or some means of identification. You don’t have to prepare for the Trial of the Century; just convince the other driver that it’s in everyone’s best interest to record the basics of what happened while it’s still fresh in everyone‘s mind. Even though versions will seem different, finding facts that you can agree on is a good idea.
- If the other driver won’t acknowledge or initial your version, insist that you wait for the police to arrive, then ask for their assistance in agreeing on the basic facts of how the accident happened. Many police officers won’t volunteer who was at fault unless drinking or high speeds were involved (and they don’t have the final say, anyway), but…
- Acknowledgement of the facts by a third party goes a long way!
- To protect yourself, document, document, document while the information is fresh.
Specific Information to get at the scene:
- Other Driver’s License: Record name and address and license number.
- Other Driver’s Registration: Record owner’s name (if different), registration (plate) number, and insurance company,
- Any Witness Names and phone numbers
- When possible, agreement on the FACTS of how the accident occurred as we’ve described above. Taking a few minutes to agree on the facts may save you time and money.
Hint: Some of the most common “at-Fault” reasons result from not yielding to oncoming traffic: Specific examples are:
- Car entering from a side street (not yielding right of way);
- Car crossing traffic (including taking a left turn across both directions of traffic);
- changing lanes;
- backing into anything (most common in parking lots);
- hitting any car in the rear.
- Knowing these basics will enable you to protect yourself from unscrupulous drivers who will readily change a story to avoid a surcharge.
Reminder: For a complete list of the “Standards of Fault”, based on years of traffic law cases, and used in determining who’s at fault, click here. Knowledge is your best asset.