February 4, 2010

NEWS FOR YOU….from the Iowa D.O.T.

By Debra Carney
Driver’s License Supervisor, Driver’s License Services office
Davenport, IA
Iowa Department of Transportation

A new and infromative article for your enjoyment each month in 50+ Lifestyles.

Accidents – what is my responsibility?

Accident – according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an accident is ‘an unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance.’ We certainly don’t foresee them or plan them, but they do happen. According to research analysis prepared by Scott R. Falb, Iowa Department of Transportation, there were 61,195 reported accidents in Iowa in 2008. That’s over 160 each day! And these are ‘reported’ accidents, who knows how many more occurred that don’t require reporting.

If you are involved in an accident here are a few tips.

1. Try to remain calm.
2. Stop as close to the scene as possible without blocking traffic.
3. Exchange information with the other driver. Your name, address and the registration number of your vehicle. You may be required to provide your driver’s license. Even if there appears to be no damage or injuries or even minor damage, you should obtain this information in the event damages or injuries are apparent at a later date.
4. If a person is injured, you are required to provide reasonable assistance including arranging for the transporting of that person. (This is where cell phones come in handy.)
5. If the accident causes death of a person, remain at the scene except to seek necessary aid or to report the accident to the nearest law enforcement agency. Leaving the scene of an injury accident or one resulting in the death of another person is considered a misdemeanor and punishable by Iowa law.
6. An accident occurring anywhere within the State of Iowa causing personal injury, death or total property damage of $1,000 or more must be reported on an Iowa Accident Report Form. The report is not required when the accident is investigated by a law enforcement agency. The law enforcement agency will need proof of current insurance.
7. Even though an accident report may not be required by the State of Iowa, make sure you report the accident to your insurance company. If the other driver reports the accident to his insurance company at a later date, your insurance company has your version of what happened and won’t have to piece together evidence.

As noted earlier a cell phone is a definite plus in the event of an accident. You will also want to make certain you have your current registration and insurance card. Some other suggestions include a list of contact phone numbers for law enforcement agencies, a card about medical allergies or conditions that may require special attention if there are serious injuries.

Some insurance companies offer accident kits which include a flashlight, reusable camera and accident documentation instructions. A set of cones, warning triangles or emergency flares, if desired, can be stored in the trunk.

Auto accidents, even minor accidents, are stressful to everyone involved and take a toll both financially and emotionally. A little preparation can go a long way to eliminating some of those stresses.

Be safe and HAPPY DRIVING!

S.A.L.T. (Seniors and law enforcement together) provides cell phones to seniors that can be used in emergency situations. For more information, please contact Pam at the Scott County Sheriffs Office, phone (563) 326-8217. The Sheriff’s Office is located in the lower level of the Scott County Courthouse at 416 W. 4th Street, Davenport, Iowa. Donations of cell phones can be made at the same address. Please include phone, charger, accessories, and instruction booklet if available.