Our day on Thursday last week started with a bang – quite literally. Julie was driving the boys to school and I was sat in the passenger seat when we came round a corner and had to stop for traffic… but the driver behind didn’t see us and drove right into the back of our car.
The most important thing is everyone was fine… and a friend who happened to drive past just afterwards was able to take the boys to school while we sorted everything out.
But a car accident is not much fun for anyone involved, even when no-one’s hurt. Anything that makes it easier is good. And a few hours later I suddenly realised how much harder it would have been if Julie and I hadn’t had our smartphones with us… and how there are a few things I’ll put on my phone in case there’s a “next time”.
The most obvious thing is it meant it was easy to call the police… and the RAC. Instead of having to traipse down the road looking for a house that might have someone home and ask to borrow their phone, we could just ring from where we were.
Of course, you could do that on any mobile phone, even if it wasn’t a modern smartphone. But when we were on the phone, the RAC in particular wanted every last detail about where we were. The road number, what road turn-offs we were near and so on. So I got out my phone and opened up the google maps app – it showed me exactly where I was and what the road number was and so on. It’s even possible to get map coordinates by tapping the screen and holding, though the RAC didn’t need them.
Next, I wanted to take some photos, just in case anyone quibbled about whose fault it was. Easy enough, we just took some on the smartphone – I took lots from different angles to make sure (and later on we were able to send them straight to the insurance company by texting them, so that saved any delay in the post).
Luckily no-one got awkward – the lady in the car behind realised she’d made a mistake, but if people are being awkward or even abusive, it could even be worth recording it. You could use the “voice recorder” app on your phone… or if you can’t find it, go into the camera and set video recording. It doesn’t matter if the picture is just of the inside of your pocket, it’ll still record the sound as well.
And it’s made me think of a few other things I’ll do. For example, I didn’t have the insurance company phone number on me. Of course, it’s easy to find it on the web on my phone, but I’ll make sure I have it stored in my phone for next time. Or you could even take a photo of your insurance documents. If you don’t have a paper copy sent to you, if it’s emailed instead then you can simply make sure that email is on your phone – if it’s a different email account, you can always forward it to the one on your phone. If you’re with the RAC or AA, you probably want to make sure that you have your membership number and their phone number stored in your phone.
In fact the RAC and the AA both have apps you can install that make it easier to report an accident or breakdown – it makes it easier to call them and can tell them exactly where you are, saving having to describe it. I’ve been told that on the AA one you can even see on a map on your phone where the patrol coming to help currently are – so you can see how close they are to you! (The RAC one might do it too – I haven’t tried it yet…)
Handy things, smartphones.
Anyway, I hope all this is completely useless to you because I hope you never have an accident or a breakdown. But it’s worth knowing just in case… and one or two of the things you can do beforehand to make it easier if it ever happens might give you a bit more peace of mind.
And as I say, the most important thing is we were all fine.