Although emergencies are unlikely, it’s important to think ahead. When you’re in an emergency situation, your fight, flight or freeze response-mode will be activated. This could impact your ability to make fast decisions or think clearly when you’re dealing with accident ramifications. Ensuring you have a plan in place means you know how to respond and don’t waste essential time. Here are some steps you can take to stay safe and handle the situation.
Stay calm: If your braking system is failing or you’ve had a car accident, try to steady your mind. Panicking will only make the situation worse. Take a deep breath and think through your actions. If you are dealing with faulty brakes, engage ABS by pumping repetitively on the brake pedals. You will hear a shuddering sound that signifies that ABS is working. If you’ve had an accident, ensure you’re physically okay before attending to your mental well-being; focus on your breathing and count your breaths if possible.
Pull over: If possible, pull your vehicle over to the side of the road and turn on your emergency headlights. This will make your vehicle more visible to other drivers and can help prevent a secondary accident. Pay attention to emergency stopping lanes to ensure you are stopped safely and legally.
Assess the situation: Determine the nature of the emergency and whether it is safe to stay in the vehicle or if you need to evacuate. If there is smoke or fire, or if you smell gasoline, get out of the vehicle immediately. Keep a small fire extinguisher or emergency fire blanket in your car in case of exposed flames once you exit the vehicle.
Call for help: If you are able to do so safely, call 000. Ensure that when waiting for emergency services you position yourself a safe distance from your vehicle, and give detailed information on where your car is located. Call the RACQ immediately on 13 11 11. If you require non-emergency police help, call Policelink on 131 444.
Use your emergency kit: Pack a kit of emergency items to store in your car. This may include items such as a flashlight, first aid kit, blankets/towels, spare tyre, jump leads, water, small fire extinguisher and even a spare key compartment.
Wait for help: Stay in your vehicle with your seatbelt fastened and the windows partially open, unless there is smoke or fire. Wait for emergency personnel to arrive and follow their instructions. Some handy numbers to save in your phone are: Nationwide Towing & Transport – 1300 468 931 and Brisbane City Towing – 0407 164 733.
Follow procedures if other vehicles are involved: If the accident occurs between your vehicle and another, check first that the other driver is safe and unharmed. Document the license plate number of other vehicles involved, and get contact information of any witnesses. If the other driver is injured and you have first aid training, attend to them immediately. Otherwise, call 000 and wait by the driver, ensuring to check for responsiveness and other injuries you can inform the paramedics of. Be particularly wary head injuries; do not try to lift the driver’s head as you could further damage their neck/spine. For motorcyclists, it’s integral not to try and remove their helmet for the same reason.
Sometimes when we’re so accustomed to driving everywhere, we overlook the unsafe habits we may have picked up along the way in order to get somewhere quicker, multitask or entertain distractions. At the end of the day, getting somewhere 10 minutes later than you were meant to or messaging your mum back when you’ve safely parked your car is worth eliminating the risk of road accidents. Remember, you’re not just taking safety precautions for yourself, but for the other drivers on the road and the passengers in your car.
If you’re on your phone or get distracted by something in the car, you’re compromising your reaction times to the actions of other road users.
So let’s commit to being safer drivers together and lock your phone, lock your eyes on the road.