Drivers who have had an accident are feeling the pressure to take the blame – even if there were contributory factors, or if it wasn’t any one person’s error of judgement alone that caused the crash.
This guilt then results in a loss of confidence with two in five (40 per cent) of respondents suffering post-traumatic stress symptoms following a crash – 15 per cent of people having recurring memories and 17 per cent experiencing feelings of distress when recounting what had happened, because they had mistakenly taken the blame.
Driving behaviour expert Dr Cris Burgess, who published the research with Norwich Union, comments: "It’s normal to react differently to how you would usually in a high stress situation like a car crash, because when you’re in shock your sense of logic and reason can be impaired.
"That’s why it’s so important to be as prepared as possible for a crash – the more you know, the better you’ll be able to deal with the situation, whatever your feelings at the time."
Nigel Bartram at Norwich Union comments: "Our research shows that factors such as driving experience and gender can influence the way people react to a crash. "
For drivers who have not experienced an accident, Norwich Union advises that they should imagine how they will deal with it in advance. Obviously getting motorists and passengers to a safe place away from the vehicles is the first priority – unless the other person is behaving in a threatening manner, in which case you should lock yourself in the vehicle until help arrives. Any first aid which is needed should be dealt with as a priority, and then the driver should be aware of the effects of delayed shock upon themselves or their passengers.
Write down as many details of the accident at the scene. You do not have to agree with the other person, but you do need to exchange insurance company contact details. If possible, use a mobile phone to take pictures of the damage.
Do not drive if you feel too shaken up, or if you suspect that the vehicle may be unsafe.
Contact your insurer as soon as you can after the incident, whilst details are still fresh in your mind. They have trained staff who will understand that you are upset – and will ask questions in such a way as to gain information, not to blame.