Some days life hits you like a Mack truck and you just have to pick yourself up and keep on trucking. Other days, a Mack truck actually does rear end you. This two-part article discusses what happens during and after a vehicular accident.
When accidents happen to individuals with disabilities, that creates a stressful situation that puts unfamiliar people into contact with one another. That can cause all kinds of issues and it’s helpful to understand what happens during these moments so that those of us with disabilities can be familiar with how to react. It’s also wise for first responders or co-participants in any vehicular accident to have the awareness to recognize that someone involved in this accident is a person with a disability and therefore, they should ensure clear and accessible communication.
Imagine you’re an individual with a disability and you get rear ended. You’ll likely either stop the car or pull over to a safe place where you can assess the damage. You’ll look at the other vehicle to see if that driver is injured or needs assistance themselves. All of a sudden, an angry person starts stomping towards you, face flushed, fingers pointed, and all he or she wants to do is blame you.
Until this individual figures out that there is an accessibility issue, you may end up in a dangerous situation. If you’re a deaf or hard of hearing individual, you may need to inform them of how to communicate with you. If you’re an individual who uses a wheelchair, it will take you some time to get out of the vehicle and into your wheelchair. That’s a scary and potentially dangerous situation so, for everyone involved, what are some good things to do to defuse the situation?
- Be sure to have your updated insurance information and driver’s license within easy reach
- Help this individual recognize that there is an existing communications challenge
- Make sure that everyone is aware of any physical disability before you reach to get your wheelchair out
- Remain in a calm tone of voice or of body
- Ask the other individual, even if they are angry, if they are ok themselves – it can often defuse the situation when you show empathy right off the bat
- Ensure that everybody is safe and out of harm’s way if the vehicles are in a busy area
- If you are able to speak for yourself, explain some of the characteristics that define an effective communications exchange
- If the individual continues to exhibit angry behavior, wait for the first responders to arrive before engaging – do not let yourself be riled up by someone else, no matter what
The safety of everybody involved is the first priority. These are some tips that may help anybody contribute to a successful resolution of a stressful situation. For some more tips about what to do after an accident, check out Part Two of this series! In the meantime, drive safely!