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Chapter 3

TRAFFIC COLLISIONS AND INSURANCE

(20 Minutes required)

When a collision does happen, it is not only your responsibility, but it is Delaware law that you stop, give help, call 911 or the police, exchange information, move your vehicle, and appear in court if necessary. These six steps are to be followed whether the collision is a minor fender bender or a fatal collision.

Stop - The first step is to stop. Any person involved in the collision must stop at the scene of the incident. You should stop at the scene or as close as possible without blocking traffic. If the vehicles involved are creating a major traffic hazard, you may move the vehicles before the police arrive. Leaving the scene of a collision is a major mistake and will be considered a hit-and-run where severe penalties will be assessed. Do not stand or walk in traffic lanes, because you could be struck by another vehicle. Turn the ignition off on all vehicles involved in the crash. The possibility of a gas spill in collisions makes it unwise to smoke near any collision.

Give Help - The second step after stopping at the scene is to give any help you can to any injured people. The only time you should move an injured person is if there is immediate danger, such as a fire. If you have the medical training, you can administer basic first aid or CPR. If there is an injury involved, you should call 911 or the paramedics as soon as possible.

Call 911 or the Police- You or someone else should make the call as soon as possible. Be sure to give the operator the exact location of the crash, as well as any other information you can, such as the type of collision, the number of people involved, how many are hurt, and the type of injuries.

Exchange Information - Any time you are in a collision, the following information must be exchanged with all the drivers involved:
  • Name and address of the driver and the car owner, if different.
  • Driver license number.
  • Vehicle registration number.
  • Insurance information such as: company name, agent, policy number and effective date.

Move Your Vehicle if it is Blocking Traffic If your vehicle is blocking the regular flow of traffic, you must move it. If you are unable to move it yourself, you must get help or call for a tow truck. You should remain calm and wait for the law enforcement officer. The officer's questions should be answered honestly and calmly.

Notify Insurance Company - The final step you need to take after being involved in a collision is to notify your insurance company immediately. The investigating officer will complete a report and place it on file.

The driver of any vehicle involved in a collision shall immediately report the collision to the police agency which has primary jurisdictional responsibility for the location in which the collision occurred:

1) When the collision results in injury or death to any person.

2) When the collision occurs on a public highway, and property damage is equal to $500 or more.

3) When it appears that a collision involves a driver whose physical ability has been impaired as a result of alcohol or drug use.

NOTE: If you cause property damage to a parked car or object and are unable to locate the owner, you must leave a note in a conspicuous place on the affected vehicle or object. The note must include your name, address, phone number, driver's license number, the date and time of the crash, and an estimate of the damage. The collision must also be reported to the police within 24 hours.

Insurance and Financial Responsibilities

To legally operate a motor vehicle in the State of Delaware , you must show proof of financial responsibility. The law is in place to make sure any driver in Delaware has insurance or enough money to pay for losses in case of an automobile collision. This law helps to keep our highways safer from irresponsible drivers. You must carry an identification card proving you have liability insurance at all times. All Delaware drivers and vehicle owners are required by law to carry the minimum limits of liability for this state, which are 15/30/10.
  • $15,000 for injury or death of one person, in a single collision
  • $30,000 for injury or death of two or more persons, in a single collision
  • $10,000 for property damage

Proof of current liability insurance must be shown at the time of any collision or traffic stop. If you cannot provide proof, the Division of Motor Vehicles will suspend your license for six months and fine you a minimum of $1500 and a maximum of $2000. For each subsequent offense occurring within three years of a former offense, the fine will be at least $3000 but not more than $4000.

Providing false or fake proof of insurance will result in an additional fine of $500 and/or 30 days in jail and a six-month driver's license suspension.

When you buy insurance, be sure to shop around. Companies will charge different amounts for the same coverage. While talking to the different agencies, be sure to mention any of the following that apply to you, as they may entitle you to a lower premium:

  • Anti-theft device such as "Lo-Jack" in your vehicle.
  • The vehicle is a secondary use vehicle or only used for pleasure driving.
  • You drive less than 7,500 miles a year.
  • You are a full-time student with a "B" average or better.
  • No violations or collisions on your driving record.
  • You have successfully completed a defensive driving course, such as this one.
Insurance Variables

Many factors affect your driving... you know that, and the insurance companies also know that. Listed below are many of the variables that affect your driving and the reasons why they may work against you when your insurance rate is calculated.

A. Age - Statistics show that both old and young drivers have a higher probability for collisions than do the middle-aged. Collision numbers verify that teenagers are involved in a substantially higher number of fatal and non-fatal collisions than other drivers. The often-transient lifestyle, attitude, and lack of maturity of those under 30 also contribute to collisions. Additionally, senior citizens are higher risks to insure because their reaction time slows as they grow older, and a gradual deterioration of motor skills and abilities occur behind the wheel.
B. Type of Car - Vehicles with high market values and sticker prices garner larger insurance premiums, as the replacement of those vehicle types is more expensive. Furthermore, certain vehicles are more prone to theft, because replacement parts are often coveted due to their high demand. Sports cars are quite cost-prohibitive to insure due to the fact they are often purchased for their power, handling, and speed... a formula that may lead to a collision.

C. Motor Vehicle Record- It is proven that prolonged unsafe driving will lead to traffic citations. Traffic citations signify unsafe driving, and the assumption is that collisions will soon follow. Since collisions lead to insurance claims, a poor driving record is a good way to see your insurance rates soar. A historical record of traffic collisions or citations will lead to substantial increases in insurance rates.

D. Marital Status- Statistically, single people are more apt to be involved in a traffic collision than those who are married. Companies know this fact and rate people accordingly.

E. Smoker/Non-Smoker- People who smoke are more likely to have higher insurance rates than those who do not. The hands of a smoker are not always on the steering wheel, and therefore that person is in less control of the vehicle. There is the potential to drop hot ashes, a lit match, or a lighter that may cause a collision or loss of vehicle control. Consequently, insurance rates tend to be higher for smokers, as the likelihood of a collision is greater.

F. Location - It is a fact that in certain cities, over 50% of all drivers on the roadways do not have insurance. The chances of involvement in a collision with an uninsured motorist are thus higher in these cities. Other areas might have high traffic density and a greater number of traffic collisions. Insurance companies will base premiums on these factors and the probability of a claim deriving from the city in which you live.