SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Car crashes can be stressful, especially if they happen on a busy road like Minnesota Avenue or 41st Street in Sioux Falls. During the mix of emotions after a crash, some may not know what the correct course of action is in those situations.
Sioux Falls Police officer Lieutenant Andrew Siebenborn shares what people should do after a crash. Here are a few questions to ask yourself at the scene of a crash.
Is anyone hurt?
Siebenborn said people should first check themselves and other occupants in the car to see if anybody is hurt. If there are no immediate injuries and if people feel safe to do so, Siebenborn said to also check on the other party involved in the crash.
Should I call the police?
If a crash results in an injury or emergency, call 911, but if it was minor and there are no pressing injuries, Siebenborn said to call the non-emergency number, 605-367-7000.
Siebenborn likes to remind people that the police department doesn’t determine who’s at fault for an car crash, but they are needed to determine if there was a violation of South Dakota codified law or City of Sioux Falls ordinance.
“Oftentimes, it’s that violation of an ordinance or state law that helps determine fault,” he said.
Can I move my vehicle?
There is no requirement to move a vehicle from the scene of a crash, but people can if they think it will be safer, Seibenborn said.
“Oftentimes, if it’s a ‘minor’ fender bender, people will pull into a nearby parking lot or something, which is perfectly fine,” he said.
According to Siebenborn, the police department leaves it up to the discretion of the drivers whether they want to relocate.
“If there is no one injured, if they want to snap a couple pictures before they potentially move cars that’s up to them,” he said. “Particularly if they’re on a major thoroughfare, if they’re able to move vehicles to a more secure, safe location, they can do that.”
Seibenborn suggests communicating with the other driver before moving to a nearby location. He said this avoids the other driver thinking you’re driving off and allows the party to coordinate a similar relocation spot.
What if I can’t move my vehicle?
For people who decide not to move their vehicle, or if the damage makes moving impossible, Seibenborn said people should turn their hazard lights on and either stay in their car or find a safe spot on the sidewalk near the scene.
“Unfortunately, sometimes we see people outside the vehicle in the middle of the roadway and that would be the absolute worst spot that we would recommend you to be,” he said.
Siebenborn said a way people can speed up the accident report process is to have their driver’s license, insurance and registration ready and if they’re comfortable, exchange information with the other driver, too.