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Accidents happen, right? The vast majority of us who drive will be involved in at least one car accident at some point in our lives. Some of those accidents will be minor fender benders while others will be more serious. The one thing they will all have in common is this question: is my car safe to drive?
The challenge in answering this question comes from the fact that you can’t necessarily see all the damage done. What appears to be nothing more than cosmetic damage could potentially be more serious underneath. You might have a cracked frame, a damaged brake line, etc. So what do you do?
It should be obvious that you need to assess the damage as best you can. If you are looking at smoke or steam billowing from the engine compartment, don’t take your chances. Call a tow. The same goes for flat tires, a broken windshield, or any other obvious issues that would prevent safe driving.
Also, ask the responding police officer for his or her assessment. Officers can at least tell you if the car still meets the legal safety threshold for driving.
Should you and the responding officer agree that the car is safe to drive, take it slowly. Drive away from the accident scene gently and gradually. Pay close attention to how the car steers and brakes. If you fell like anything is off, you could have serious damage underneath. That’s the point to pull over and call a tow.
Finally, get the car checked out by a mechanic ASAP – if even you determined it was safe to drive. A mechanic is the most qualified person to figure out how much damage the car actually suffered.