Everyone hopes they’re never involved in a hit and run accident, but with an average of 682,000 hit and run crashes annually since 2006, it pays to be on your guard. Learning how to respond to a hit and run accident properly could not only save your life, but ensure the person responsible for the accident is brought to justice. And the only reliable way to improve your reaction is to increase your knowledge before one ever happens.
The Advantages of Staying Calm
One of the best things you can do is remain calm. After the accident, you’ll probably experience a surge of adrenaline, and the next sequence of events can unfold over the course of seconds. If you’re able to stay calm, you can:
- Identify and remember more details. The majority of hit and run cases end up being difficult to try in court because a defendant can’t be identified or produced. It’s easy to lose track of what’s happening after a sudden event, but if you remain calm, you can look at your surroundings, and gather pieces of information like the make, model, and license plate of the car that hit you, or the physical appearance of the driver.
- Prevent impulsive reactions. Staying calm can also prevent your adrenaline from leading you to impulsive, possibly dangerous decisions. For example, in the heat of the moment, you might be more likely to start chasing after the offending driver in a rage, putting you and other drivers at risk of further injury.
- Make more rational decisions. Your decisions in the minutes and hours following a hit and run accident could make the difference in whether or not you find justice. Learning to stay calm can buy you the time necessary to make the most rational, safest decisions.
How to Stay Calm
Of course, just committing to “stay calm” isn’t typically enough to keep your emotions in check. Instead, you’ll need to get used to maintaining your composure under pressure.
There are several ways to do this:
- Learn to recognize adrenaline. When you experience an injury, or a sudden, surprising event, your body will flood with adrenaline and noradrenaline (and a host of other stress-related hormones). These chemicals equip you for fight or flight, increasing your heartbeat, increasing your breathing, and pushing your emotions to the brink. When you recognize this for what it is, you can remove yourself from its worst effects. Saying to yourself, “my body is preparing me for danger” helps you think rationally, even while these stress hormones are pumping out. It takes practice but can be an effective way to remain calm in the moment.
- Focus on your breathing. Your mind will likely be running wild after a hit and run, so it’s important to find a way to center yourself. One of the most common ways to accomplish this is to focus on your breathing. Take big, deep breaths; these will help slow your heart rate down and will give you something to focus on until those chemicals start to subside.
- Meditate daily. Practicing mindfulness meditation is shown to have positive effects on the brain over the long term; people who meditate daily tend to have more control over their emotions, greater focus, and greater resilience to stressful events (all of which are helpful when reacting to a hit and run accident). Plus, you’ll enjoy a host of other benefits, like lower anxiety on a daily basis.
Important Steps to Take
If you are involved in a hit and run, make sure you’re familiar with the following important steps to take:
- Look for (and remember) details. You may only have a second or two before the offending driver gets away; look up and see if you can spot any details, like a bumper sticker or a license plate number. Commit it to memory.
- Get to safety. Get you, your car, and any of your passengers to safety, which often means pulling over to the side of the road.
- Check on others. Check on your passengers, and anyone else involved in the collision to see if they need medical assistance.
- Look for witnesses and collect information. If everyone is safe, look around for witnesses, who might have been able to spot key details about the accident (or the driver).
- Call the police. Always call the police and file a report. It’s important to have these details on record to substantiate your future legal action, or to help police find the culprit.
- Contact a lawyer. If you learn more information about the driver, or if you feel you have a chance at properly identifying them, contact a lawyer. They may be able to help you get compensation.
Hopefully, you’ll never have to deal with the aftereffects of a hit and run accident, but if you do, you’ll be prepared. Invest time in meditating and mastering your emotions, and try to stay as calm and rational as possible after the collision occurs.