Smart-phone apps that can help after a car crash

Consumer Reports News: July 20, 2012 09:38 AM

In the harried moments following a fender bender, it can be difficult to think clearly. But properly documenting what happened and who was involved is critical. Capturing that information can save both money and hassles later on. Fortunately, there are apps for that.

There are plenty of free apps available that offer step-by-step instructions of what to do, from turning on four-way flashers to taking photographs and filling out an accident report. Handy features also include access and directions to emergency help and roadside service. Plus, they pack the ability to call for local help from the app. Some even include an accident report form.

We took a look at two of the more popular ones available: Help I Crashed My Car for Android users and Car Accident Report for the iPhone.

App-Help-I-Crash-My-Car.jpgWhat we like: Both apps allow you to pre-load emergency contact info, personal data, and vehicle information including make, model, and insurance information so it is at the ready when you need it. Both also track your location using GPS and include complete checklists of what to do and in what order after a crash. They include an accident report screen you can fill out with details, with fields for information about other vehicles and drivers.

One cool feature with Car Accident Report is integration with your iPhone camera, which allows you to take photos of the scene and send them along with notes, diagrams, and recorded audio interviews via email. Help I Crashed My Car (pictured right) includes useful links to rental car companies and area auto body shops.

What we don't like: Help I Crashed My Car may go into too much detail with its checklist for frantic roadside reading, and both apps at times have small type that can be hard on the eyes, especially for an adrenaline-fueled crash victim. Graphics could be improved on with Help, which looks less polished.

Keep in mind there are other choices available, many for free. At these prices, it's a good idea to find one you like, download it, and have it ready in case you ever need to use it.

Compatibility: Help I Crashed My Car is a free download for Android phones; Car Accident Report is free for the iPhone.

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Jim Travers

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