What to do if you’re involved in a car accident
Recent reports suggest the number of people leaving the scene of an accident is increasing. Most people know that failing to stop is an offense under the Road Traffic Act. You must also report a road traffic accident to the Police within 24 hours. Failure to do this could lead to a fine, penalty points or even disqualification.
Clearly, even minor road traffic accidents are a big deal. So, to make sure you’re not caught out if you’re involved in a bump, scrape or crash, we’ve put together this handy advice sheet.
Stay At The Scene
It’s against the law to leave the scene if you think your accident has caused injury to people or animals, damage to other vehicles, or damage to roadside items such as lampposts, walls and fences.
If it’s possible, move your car to a side of the road and turn on your hazard warning lights. Then step away from the car and stand somewhere safe.
Take a few deep breaths. You may be stunned or in shock, so spend time gathering your thoughts so you can understand what’s just happened. Remember, panic or anger won’t help you or others, so stay calm too.
Of course, not all accidents will require the emergency services. However, if you or somebody else is injured and needs medical attention, you should call 999 and request an ambulance and the police.
If the road is blocked or damaged, or the other driver leaves the scene, you should call 999 and ask for the police.
You should also ask for the police if you suspect foul play, particularly if you think the crash was deliberate and you might be the victim of a ‘crash for cash’ scheme. Remember, all car accidents should be reported to the police with 24 hours.
It’s important to exchange details with the other drivers involved. This includes names, addresses, vehicle registration numbers, telephone numbers and importantly, insurance information and policy details.
This isn’t only so you can make a claim on your insurance, it’s also to help the police with any enquiries they may need to make.
Remember to stay calm. It certainly won’t help the situation if you are angry or upset, In fact it might antagonise what could already be quite a fraught situation.
Never accept responsibility for the accident either, even if you feel it might have been your fault. And don’t let an angry driver bully you into accepting blame – this could count against you in the future. The police or your insurance investigators will assess the accident and work out who was to blame.
If possible, collect name, address, vehicle registration and contact details from any witnesses. Don’t ask them for a statement, or their view on who was to blame. That’s for others to do.
Also, photograph the scene. Use your phone or a camera to take shots from various angles, including all the vehicles involved. Note the road names, vehicle locations and any skid marks on the road and collision points.
If you don’t have access to a camera, make a sketch and note the colours of each car, etc. Record any other key details, including weather conditions, light and visibility, road conditions, etc.
Be discreet. You don’t want the other drivers to feel you are making a case against them. However, make sure you make a note of other key things, including whether you think the other driver had been drinking (you might smell alcohol or drugs on their breath), or if you saw the other driver using a mobile phone at the wheel. Avoid any confrontation but do make sure you tell the police when they arrive.