How to survive a traffic accident

how to survive a traffic accident travel insurance

Traffic accidents are the main cause of injury and death for travelers. According to the WHO, 10% of these accidents happen in developing countries.

Hopping on cheap flights and road trips are becoming increasingly popular among Hong Kongers. As a result, we have broadened our palette for travel beyond the traditionally popular hotspots like Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, and mainland China.

However, every country has a different road system, and with it, the design, construction quality, rules, and driving habits can vary tremendously. In other words, there is a risk of traffic accidents whether you are traveling by yourself or with a tour group. 

Today, Kwiksure will give a quick rundown on how to survive an accident while on a road trip and aboard a tour bus. Read this before you go. Learn to stay calm in the face of danger and make the right judgments to protect yourself and others.

What to do when your tour bus crashes

Nobody expects to get into a traffic accident while they are on vacation. Here is what to do when you find yourself in one. 

1. Pay attention to the design of your tour bus 

No matter what vehicle you’re getting on, you should keep track of the nearest emergency exits and tools (ex. emergency hammer). You can do this before you even board the coach! Also, you should check if there are any damages done to the equipment and if they are still locked. So, even if you find yourself in the dark or a smoke-filled environment, you can escape immediately. 

Besides the fire exits at the rear and both sides of the vehicle, check whether there is an exit on the roof. This way, you have an alternative escape route if the coach turns over or the fire exit closest to you is stuck.

Last but not least, avoid seating passengers with limited mobility near the fire exit, so they won’t be obstructing escape when accidents happen. 

2. Tell your driver, then open the fire exit 

As soon as you realize your coach is up in smokes, let your driver know and push open the fire exit. Because when your coach is on fire, the fire can spread very quickly. Timing is everything - you should get off the bus as soon as possible. 

3. Find the emergency hammer and fire extinguisher

Trapped in your coach during a car crash? You should escape by breaking open the windows with the emergency hammer. Windows are the easiest to break when you strike at their four corners. If you’re still having trouble breaking an entire piece of glass, try leaning back on your seat as a support and use both of your feet to smash the glass. As international standards dictate: a 60-seat tour bus should come equipped with 2 extinguishers and 2 emergency hammers.

If it’s a small fire, you can use a fire extinguisher to put it out. Remember the PASS rule:

  • Pull the pin at the top of the fire extinguisher, breaking the seal. 
  • Aim the nozzle towards the base of the fire, standing a safe distance away. 
  • Squeeze the handles together to unleash the extinguishing agent inside. 
  • Sweep the nozzle from side to side at the base of the fire. Remember to make sure there are no more smouldering hot spots that could reignite the fire! 

What to do when your car crashes

Unfortunately, car crashes can be incredibly common with many potential causes. Here is a list of the most common causes, and what you can do in each situation.

1. Flat tire

Once your car tire is punctured, the air inside will quickly leak out. If it’s your front tire that is punctured, grip your wheel firmly, and gently steer the front of the car. Do not repeatedly hit the steering wheel, let alone slam on the brakes. Wait until your vehicle gradually slows down, then tap the steering wheel. When you’ve stopped safely, put up a vehicle breakdown sign behind your car to avoid more accidents. 

Your car will lean towards the side of the punctured tire once your tire flats. At this time, you should release the pedal to gradually slow down the car. It’s a lot less dangerous if it’s your back tires that are punctured. You only need to hold firmly to your wheel - no steering is involved.

2. Engine water temperature is too high

There are many reasons why your engine overheats. Your fan belt might have snapped, water tank or pipes leaked, thermostat failed, or your fuel tank leaked. These are just a few of the most common reasons. 

If this happens to you, first, you have to slow down your car. Then, drive up to a nearby curb. However, don’t immediately turn off your engine. Otherwise, the softer metals of your car might melt off.

As your engine cools down, do not pour cold water on it. This might cause the engine block to burst due to the sudden coldness. The best way to do this would be to put on your gloves, and put a wet, folded towel on your water tank. Then, gently unscrew the water tank cover leaving only a small space between the tank and the cover. Next, slowly wait for the water vapor to seep out. Add cold water or antifreeze only after the water tank pressure drops. 

3. Brake malfunctions

If your brake fails, you can switch to an emergency brake. However, you must control it properly. Don't yank violently on the hand brake, or else the wire rope will break. This causes the brake to fail or even lock the rear wheel of the vehicle, which will result in your vehicle losing control.

The correct method is to slowly pull up the hand brake. It’s important to alternate between tightening and loosening your grip several times. This gradually slows your car to a stop. When pulling the hand brake, press the safety button. It gives you control throughout the process of tightening and loosening. Moreover, this prevents your car from locking itself when you tighten the hand brake.

What if your brake malfunctions at a dangerous location, such as while you were going downhill? To prevent making the situation worse, try making use of the roadside obstacles, like sand, mud piles, grass, road trenches, woods to force your car to stop.

4. Fuel tank leakage 

You accidentally hit the fuel tank while driving on a bumpy road and cause oil leakage, but the repair site is far away. What do you do?

You can stick your used chewing gum to the leaking part of the fuel tank. Because the chewing gum can tightly seal the dripping part after it has dried and hardened, it’s great in emergencies like this. 

Is it enough to buy only travel insurance for a road trip?

Most travel insurance plans don’t cover the medical expenses and property losses of third parties in traffic accidents. So, you should buy independent rental car insurance by yourself or through your car rental company. For more information about car rental insurance, please visit our Tips on self-drive travel and rental car insurance.

Understand different insurance plans

Besides car insurance (i.e. third-party insurance and comprehensive car insurance), Kwiksure also provides motorcycle insurance, maid insurance, VHIS, and many other products. Brush up on your driver’s knowledge with our informative articles like How to maintain your cars and What to do in the event of a car accident

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The above information is for reference only. Kwiksure takes no responsibility for the accuracy and timeliness of the information. For the coverage, mode of compensation, benefit limit and premium levels of any specific insurance plan, please refer to the relevant policy terms.