News 3 Survival Guide: How to survive a car crash

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Car accidents can happen to anyone - even a great driver. Sometimes it will blindside you and there's nothing you can do, other times you've got a few seconds to react.

The first and most important thing to remember in preventing an accident is wearing your seat belt.

"Seat belts reduce your risk of death or injury by half, " says Art Kohn, with the Virginia Beach Fire Department. "That`s pretty good odds."

You can also make sure your car is cleaned out and there isn't anything that could go flying in a crash.

During a crash you switch from crash avoidance to crash survival.

If you have to slam on your brakes, trust your anti-lock braking system. Most cars today have one, so if you need to brake quickly, just hold down your brakes firmly and let the ABS pump the brakes for you.

Stay in an upright position during a crash.

"It's really important to stay in this upright position with your hands firmly on the wheel," says Kohn. "The reason for that, the safety features of this vehicle, of any vehicle, are designed to protect you in this position."

If it's possible, try to look for a different crash option that will cause the least amount of damage.

"Look for a soft target," says Kohn. "A lot of times you can just pull off the road, you're still going to be in an accident and your still going to do some damage to your vehicle, but it's better than getting into an accident with another moving vehicle."

Always try to remain in control of the car and avoid sudden movements.

Once a crash has happened, the first thing to do is call 911.

Then you have to assess the situation.

"Naturally, our first instinct, depending on the severity of the crash, is to get out and look at the damage," says Kohn. "But something to keep in mind is even after you`ve been in an accident, often times the safest place to be is in your car."

If it's safe to stay inside, do so and turn off the engine.

If there's a danger of fire or you've landed in any water, get out as soon as possible and stand far off the road.