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How fender benders turn into deadly wrecks

A "fender bender" or other minor car accident can happen to anyone, just about any time.

Unfortunately, the police say that it isn't uncommon for a fairly insignificant car accident to turn deadly shortly after the initial accident.

How does that happen?

When there's traffic around and a couple cars suddenly end up stopped due to an accident, there's a huge potential for a second accident to take place. The unexpected shift in traffic flow and the vehicles that are out of place can throw other drivers -- some of whom may already be distracted or tired and not paying a lot of attention on a routine commute.

What should you do to protect yourself?

Obviously, if anyone is hurt in the car accident, you should stay where you are and call 911.

However, if the accident is minor, nobody is injured and both cars are operational, it's wisest to move both cars out of the flow of traffic where they -- and you -- will be safer. Talk to the driver of the other car and see if you can agree to move the cars to a nearby location before you start the post-accident process.

If you're able to pull off to the side of the road or into a parking lot, do so. If not, pull both cars as far over to the right as you can and turn on your hazards. Similarly, if you would feel unsafe leaving the location you are in for anyplace off the main road (especially at night), pulling to the right is the best option. Then, you can safely exchange your insurance information with the other driver.

What else should you know?

If you are pulled over to the right, don't stand immediately behind your vehicle or the other vehicle when you're exchanging information. It's far too easy for a rapidly-moving vehicle to crash into the back end of a stopped car -- which would mean crashing into you as well. If possible, step far back from the parked vehicles where you'd be out of danger if they're hit.

As always, if you're in doubt about how to proceed, stay in your vehicle and call for advice from the police.

Source: wtop.com, "How to keep minor car accidents from escalating into deadly crashes," Kathy Stewart, May 13, 2018

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