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Key Findings from CARAVAN Survey On How Americans React To AccidentsNov 3, 2010
By SFLearn State Farm™ Employee
The following survey of 1,009 nationally-represented American adults is comprised of 502 men and 507 women 18 years of age and older, living in private households.This CARAVAN Survey was completed during the period July 22-25, 2010. The margin of error is +/-3%.
Who Is A Witness?
In general, Americans agree that witnessing an accident involves seeing it from start to finish and being directly involved.
- Almost all Americans agree that you are a witness to an accident if you see it from start to finish (95%) or if you are directly involved (90%).
- Three fourths (74%) of Americans say they are a witness to an accident if they are within 100 feet and two thirds (66%) say being a witness means not being involved.
Would You Stop?
For the most part, Americans pull over if they have witnessed an accident. Older Americans and those with higher incomes are more likely to stop if they have just witnessed an accident, than are young or lower income Americans.
- Americans are likely to stop if they witnessed an accident which didn't involve them (83%). More than half (55%) of Americans say they are very likely to stop.
- Those American who are 65 and older are less likely to pull over when compared to Americans 3564 (77% vs. 87%).
- Americans with household incomes of over $100K annually are more likely to stop than those with lower incomes between $35K and $50K (90% vs. 79%).
Having small children in the car or being in an unsafe neighborhood can affect Americans' decisions to pull over. Men are more likely to stop even if the neighborhood is unsafe, while young Americans tend to keep on driving.
- Half of Americans (53%) say they would pull over if they had small children in the car, and less than half (45%) would pull over if they were in a neighborhood where it was not safe to stop.
- After witnessing an accident, men (50%) are more likely than women (40%) to pull over in a bad neighborhood.
- Two-thirds of Americans 1834 years old (64%) said they are not likely to stop after witnessing an accident if the neighborhood does not feel safe.
What does "I'm sorry" really mean?
To most Americans who have just been involved in an accident, it is just an apology, but one-in-three think it can be an admission of legal responsibility.
- More than half (56%) of Americans say that apologizing at the scene of an accident does not mean a person is admitting fault.
- A third of Americans (32%) think that saying "I'm sorry" does admit fault and imply legal liability.
To go through insurance, or to not go through insurance?
That is the question on the mind of many Americans who aren't sure about the legality of reporting an accident to their insurance companies. Some Americans, especially older Americans, admit they just do not know.
- About half of Americans (46%) feel it is against the law to refuse to report an accident to an insurance company, while four in 10 (41%) disagree, thinking it is legal to "not go through insurance."
- One in 10 Americans (13%) don't know if you are legally allowed to refuse to report an accident to the insurance company.
- Those Americans who are 65 and older are twice as likely to admit they do not know compared to young Americans 1834 years old (19% vs. 10%).
Legally mandatory or not, Americans, especially those over 65, tend to report accidents to their insurance companies and file police reports even against the wishes of other involved parties, who tend to be younger in age.
- Most Americans (74%) would go through an insurance company after an accident, even if the other party involved suggested not reporting the incident to an insurance company.
- But, one-quarter of Americans (24%) do say that they can be swayed to not file an insurance report by the other party.
- Three fifths of Americans (61%) would insist on filing a police report if they were in an accident without injury or serious mechanical damage.
- Americans 65 and older are more likely to insist than young Americans 1834 (70% vs. 57%).
Americans have a sense of ethical responsibility.
The majority of Americans will contact the owner of a parked car they have just damaged, with the methods of communication varying from notes to waiting for the owner to return to their vehicle.
- For the most part, Americans who damaged a parked car will contact the owner in some way. Nine in 10 Americans would leave a note (89%), and four out of five Americans would contact their insurance company (80%).
- Younger Americans ages 1834 are more likely to drive away after damaging a parked vehicle, especially when compared to middle-aged Americans 4554
- Westerners (96%) prefer to leave a note with contact information, while Midwesterners (58%) and Southerners (55%) will wait for the owner to return.
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