(949) 250-7001

Making Orange County and Los Angeles County a better place - one safe driver at a time!

Staged Accidents are On the Rise: Don’t Be a Victim!

Not every car crash is an accident…

Anyone who’s been in a car accident knows, it all happens so fast. Often times it’s tough to recount all the events leading up to a car accident because you’re just driving along, and then BAM! You get hit. You’re stunned and shaken, and your memories may be fuzzy, so the other driver’s story – or a witness’s account – may seem reasonable to you in the moment.

Unfortunately, there are scammers out there who prey upon a person’s emotional state immediately after an accident. Staged accidents and insurance fraud are growing in popularity. We want you to be aware of it so that you can reduce your chances of becoming a victim.

Who is likely to be a victim of staged accidents?

The most likely targets include:

  • women and the elderly (may be easier to intimidate)
  • drivers of new or luxury cars (may have higher insurance limits)
  • drivers of big rigs or other work vehicles (these cases may be more lucrative)

(source: DMV.org)

You may not be able to avoid an accident caused by a scammer because it happens so quickly and there usually aren’t avoidable signs that it’s going to happen. However, a driver’s behavior after the accident can tip you off that things may not be on the up and up.

There are several types of staged accidents/insurance fraud, but not all of them involve innocent victims. Sometimes the entire accident is staged and no one is an actual victim. Other times, however, the accidents involve innocent victims who are then made to appear at fault for the accident. These are the kinds you need to be aware of.

Here are two popular types of staged accidents involving an innocent victim:

1. Swoop & Squat

This tactic has become popular in Southern California, according to this article in the LA Times. In traffic, a driver suddenly swoops in front of you, then slams on their brakes, causing you to rear-end them.

Here’s a quick video produced by the LAPD and the NICB (National Insurance Crime Bureau), demonstrating the Swoop & Squat:


2. Left Turn Drive Down

Here’s another quick video demonstrating the Left Turn Drive Down. Ladies, beware: this one typically targets women:


Other types of staged accidents include:

  • the Sideswipe
  • the T-bone
  • the Wave
  • the Panic Stop
  • the Start-and-Stop

(sources: State Farm Insurance and Esurance)

How to Recognize a Staged Accident

Unfortunately, you might only recognize red flags of insurance fraud after the fact. Nevertheless, be sure to notify your insurance company right away if you see any of these signs of a staged accident/insurance fraud:

  • a random “Good Samaritan” appears on the scene and offer to help by referring you to a good doctor/chiropractor, lawyer, or repair shop
  • the other party’s doctor, or a doctor referred to you by someone else, insists that you file a personal injury claim even though you weren’t hurt
  • tow trucks arrive on the scene even though no one called them. Read more about tow truck scams here.

Also remember that these people often pack their cars with passengers. The more people who can report injuries, the better.

What to Do if You are the Victim of a Staged Accident

If you are a victim or witness of a staged accident or believe insurance fraud has been committed, first contact your insurance company directly. Then, if you are so inclined, call the NICB at 1.800.TEL.NICB or text the word “FRAUD” to TIP411 (847411). You can also report it online at the NICB’s website.

Here are the DMV’s recommendations for handling a fraudulent accident:

Staged car accident scam artists are vulnerable to facts. The more information you provide, the more equipped you are to fight an insurance scam.

Snap photos from every angle of the involved vehicles, with special focus on the damage. Also, capture on camera the license plate, as well as photos of the driver and all the passengers in the other vehicle.

Take copious notes, and record as much as you can of the following:

  • Driver license number
  • Vehicle registration information
  • Car insurance information
  • Name, address, and phone number
  • The general height and weight (as well as the ethnicity) of the other car’s driver and passengers

Also, call the police if you suspect that you were in a staged accident.

Don’t ever settle on site with cash; always report the accident to your car insurance company, and let them know if you suspect a scam.

Staged accidents are on the rise: Don’t be a victim!

Step 1. Complete our online driver’s education course

Register for our online driver education course. After you complete the required chapters and tests, we will then send you the DMV Certificate of Completion (DL387) that you can take to the DMV when you are ready to take the written test for your learner’s permit.

Our online driver ed course is available to all California residents. You can take our course at your own pace, in your own home in your own time.

Step 2. Study for the DMV written test

You will need to study for the DMV written permit test by reading through the DMV California Driver Handbook. It will benefit you if you take your time and study the handbook so you are comfortable with the information that will be on the test.

Take your time, you don’t want to have to go back to retake the test.

Step 3. Make an appointment at the DMV to take the written exam

It is important that you call ahead of time and schedule an appointment at the local DMV so you can go in and take the written test.

The lines at the DMV are usually very long so you don’t want to waste your time waiting in line. Make sure that you are well prepared for your appointment.

Most DMV’s are open Mondays through Fridays until 5 pm; Some are also open on Saturdays for a few hours so call ahead of time and see which date and times are best for you.

Step 4. Bring necessary documents to the DMV office

  • Complete the application form DL 44, remember the DMV always requires An original to be submitted. Copies will not be accepted in any form, so make sure you have exactly what you need. You can get this form from your local DMV.
  • Have your parents or guardians sign the application form DL 44.
  • Give your right thumbprint.
  • Have your picture taken.
  • Provide your social security #
  • Verify your birth date and legal residence
  • Submit the proper form(s) for Driver Education and/or Driver Training (see below for details)
  • Pay the $28.00 application fee (This fee entitles you to three exams of any type within the 12-month period and pays for both the instruction permit and the driver license. If all requirements are not met within the 12-month period, the application becomes void and all steps must be completed again.)
  • Pass a vision exam, if you need glasses, wear them.
  • Pass a written test, there are 46 questions on the test.
  • You need a passing score of at least 39 correct answers.
  • You have three chances to pass the test. If you fail, you must wait 7 days before taking it again.


Driver Education and Driver Training Form Requirements:

If you are 15  years of age, you will need to bring with you:

  • Form DL 356 or OL 237 (Completion of Driver Education) with form DL 391 (Driver Training Enrollment ) if your school has a contract with a driving school.


  • Form DL 356 or forms OL 237 and OL 238 (Completion of both Driver Education and Driver Training)


  • Submit form DL 391 or OL 239 (Simultaneous Enrollment in Driver Education and Driver Training)


If you are over 15 but under 18 years of age, you will need to submit:

  • Form DL 356 or OL 237 (Completion of Driver Education)


  • Form DL 391 or OL 239 (Simultaneous Enrollment in Driver Education and Driver Training)


If you are over 17  but under 18 years of age, you may get your permit without the driver education and driver training certificates however, you will not be able to take the driving test until you turn 18.

Once you pass your written test, you will be issued a provisional permit. You can be issued a permit at age 15, but you cannot take the driving test or be issued a driver’s license until you are 16 years of age.

A parent, guardian, spouse, or adult 25 years of age or older, who has a valid California driver’s license, must be with you when you drive. They must sit in a position that allows them to take control of the vehicle, if necessary. It is illegal for you to drive alone at any time.

Before being eligible to take the driving test you must:

  • Be 16 years old
  • Have had your permit for a minimum of six months
  • Have completed driver education
  • Have completed 6 hours of professional driver training
  • Have completed 50 hours of practice with an adult 25 years or older. The adult must have a valid California driver’s license and certify to the 50 hours of practice. At least 10 of the 50 hours must have been done at night.


If driver education and driver training were taken in a state other than California, DMV will accept either a Secondary Schools Other Than California Schools form DL 33 completed by the out-of-state school or a letter on the out-of-state school’s stationery signed by a school official stating that the courses are equivalent to California’s requirements. Instructional permits issued by another state are not acceptable

Step 5. Complete behind the wheel training

When you pass the written exam:

  • You are required to take your first 2 hours of behind the wheel training with a professional driving instructor.
  •  You may start behind the wheel training with your parent/guardian or other licensed drivers who are 25 years of age or older.
  •  You must further complete four (4) more hours of driving school instruction.
  • Complete fifty (50) additional hours of behind the wheel training with a parent/guardian or any other adult who is 25 years old or older. The adult must have a valid California driver license and certify that you’ve had the 50 hours of practice. It is required that 10 of the 50 hours of training is done in the evening.

Step 6. Take the driving test at the DMV

To be eligible to take your driving test you must:

  • Be 16 years old
  • Have had your permit for a minimum of six months
  • Have completed a driver education course
  • Have completed 6 hours of professional driver training
  • Have completed 50 hours of practice with an adult who is 25 years or older. The adult must have a valid California driver license and certify to the 50 hours of practice. At least 10 of the 50 hours must have been done at night.
  • You will also need to show registration and proof of insurance for the vehicle you will be taking your drive test in.
  •  If you fail your drive test, you must wait two weeks before you can take the test again. You have three chances to pass.
    • Driving (behind-the-wheel) retest fee is $6.00.
    • Motorcycle driving (behind-the-wheel) retest fee $6.00.


After you pass your drive test you will be issued an interim license valid for 60 days until you receive your new photo license in the mail. Double-check your address before you leave DMV and tell the DMV representative if you have moved or if your address is incorrect.

If you have not received your license after 60 days, call (916) 657-7790 and they can check on the status for you. Have your interim license with you to provide information when requested.

Step 7. Receive provisional license upon passing the driving test

After you pass the Driving Test, you will be issued a provisional license. Your license will have the following restrictions for the next year: During the first 12 months, you are licensed to drive you must be accompanied by a driver 25 years of age or older if you drive between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. or if you have passengers under the age of 20 in the car at any time.

Persons under 18 may not be employed to drive a motor vehicle. When you become 18, the provisional part of your license ends. You may continue to drive as an adult using your photo license, which will expire on your 5th birthday after the date you applied.