DEAR SUN SPOTS: Our son, a new driver, was involved in a motor vehicle incident Dec. 30 when he was on his way to a 3:30 p.m. appointment. He was near the Cow Bell Restaurant on upper Lisbon Street when he was hit by a blue SUV driven by a male estimated to be in his 50s. This driver parked far enough up the road where our son couldn’t see the SUV’s license plates, then he walked back to our son, who was quite shaken up and remained in his vehicle.

This man identified himself as “Chris” and said because he had just gotten the vehicle, he didn’t have his insurance card on him. He convinced our son that it was not a big deal; there was no damage; and he couldn’t help hitting him because our son had “stopped short” and the roads were snowy.

Later, our son called “Chris” to check on him only to discover that his name and contact information were all fake. He believed this man when he said his insurance card was in the mail. Sadly, this was a hard lesson. I’m just glad no one was hurt.

— No name, no town

ANSWER: If anyone was a witness to this incident on Lisbon Street on Monday, Dec. 30, please write to Sun Spots. Meanwhile, I hope this has been reported to the police. They can check surveillance cameras and also have other ways of getting information.

All accidents are reportable, no matter how minor. In driver education classes, students are advised of what to do if they are in an accident. However, when people of any age and experience are in the throes of it, it’s difficult to remember to take photos and ask questions. Even if they don’t appear to be physically hurt, the sudden shock of being hit by another vehicle can be traumatic enough to keep drivers from thinking straight.

Here’s a list to carry with you as a reminder of what to do: Check for injuries. If you’re not sure whether you or passengers are injured, call an ambulance. Some injuries aren’t immediately noticeable.

If you smell gasoline or smoke, get away from the vehicle. If the accident is minor, move your car to the side of the road to a safe location.

Stay calm. Don’t blame the other driver and don’t apologize for being involved in the accident.

Get contact information. Use your cellphone to take a photo of the other driver’s license and insurance card. Get the contact information of any witnesses.

Call the police. Your insurance company will require a police report. This report is important because stories have a way of changing after everyone has left the scene.

Take pictures from as many angles as possible, including skid marks or other evidence.

Don’t negotiate. Don’t promise not to pursue an insurance claim or agree not to involve the police.

Don’t leave before you exchange contact information with the other drivers. Wait for the police. Report all accidents to your car insurance carrier even if it was not your fault.

Treat the other driver(s) as you would want to be treated. Be honest and as helpful as you can.

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name. We won’t use it if you ask us not to. Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to [email protected].

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