Car Accident Victims Would Like More Emotional Support Following a Crash

After a car accident, most people are most concerned about physical injuries. Whiplash, broken bones, abrasions, head trauma, and more are possible.

But what about the psychological effects?

New research from Road Safety UAE, a United Arab Emirates (UAE) road safety improvement initiative, in partnership with General Motors’ OnStar, looked into that very question.

Accident Victims Report Wanting Emotional Support

Scientists recruited 46 UAE-based respondents who had been involved in major car accidents. They then had the participants revisit the on-road incident and share their emotional responses in the immediate aftermath of the incidents.

Later, the scientists asked them about the future of driving, when cars would be more connected and autonomous. Most of the respondents had been the drivers in the accidents they recalled, but some had been passengers.

The results showed the following:

  • Initial responses after the accident included fear, anxiety, and shock
  • Those traveling with others were immediately concerned about their safety
  • Most respondents immediately called emergency responders or family members
  • One in five was in shock and unable to decide how to react
  • Some were unconscious or physically unable to call for help

When asked what sort of support they would have wanted right after an accident, the respondents answered first that they would like emotional support (before medical support). Two out of three would have liked someone to comfort them and calm them down.

Accident Victims Seek Automated Emergency Calls and Instructions

The researchers also asked the accident victims about their thoughts concerning the safety features of their vehicles. One in three reported feeling either extremely satisfied or satisfied with the existing safety features. They particularly liked the rear and front sensors, airbags, automatic braking system, and durable car exterior.

They also expressed interest in more technology features that would help prevent an accident or support victims through it. These included:

  • Technology that automatically alerts emergency services after an accident
  • Automatic instructions to the driver and passengers about what to do next

Over a decade ago in another study, researchers discussed the psychological consequences of road accidents and the need to provide support for the victims and their families. More specifically, they looked at the long-term, rather than the immediate effects of car accidents, and found that victims need support long after the accident as well.

“The most common psychological effects include mental health problems, increased use of psychotropic drugs, and difficulty in performing occupational functions,” the researchers wrote.

In another more recent review, researchers analyzed 24 studies involving 4,502 injured participants. They found elevated psychological stress associated with crash-related injuries. In cases where the victims suffered from spinal cord injuries, mild to moderate traumatic brain injuries, and whiplash-associated disorder, the effects remained elevated for at least three years after the accident.

If you’ve been in an accident and are suffering from psychological stress, follow up with your doctor. They can give you referrals to other healthcare professionals if necessary. It may also help to journal about your feelings and talk to a professional counselor