No matter how careful you are on South African Roads, the reality is that you are at the mercy of other people. Unfortunately, chances are good that you will be involved in a car accident at some point along the road (pun intended), whether it be a minor bumper bashing or something more serious.
So what do you do if you’re involved in a car accident?
Here are 8 steps to follow:
Stop – as obvious as this may sound many people have a first instinct to driveway after being involved in an accident, this may be due to shock or fear of getting into further trouble. Legally you are required to stop your vehicle after an accident, even if no one is injured and it is just a minor bump or scrape.
Switch on your hazards – This is a safety precaution, it ensures other drivers will see you on the road and can slow down when passing.
Identify and help anyone who may have been injured – be careful when moving someone who is injured if you do not have any first aid knowledge, you may accidentally worsen their injuries especially if they have back or neck pain. If you feel uncomfortable about doing this, wait for medical personal to arrive on scene.
Call Emergency Services – Make sure you remain as calm as possible on the phone and speak clearly, provide an address and any nearby landmarks that may help them find you faster.
Examine the extent of the damage – Look carefully at the vehicles involved to asses the extent of the damage. Safety always comes first so be careful of broken glass or leaking fuel.
Get all the necessary information from those involved:
- Full Name
- ID Number
- Driving Licence number of the driver of the other vehicle
- Contact Information
- Vehicle registration number
- Description of the vehicle(s) involved
If you can, try to get the following information as well:
- Details of police officers, traffic officers and EMS personal
- The details of the tow truck staff (use tow operators approved by your insurance company when possible)
- Name(s) and contact details of any witnesses to the accident.
Report the accident to the police – If no one has been injured it isn’t necessary to call the police to the scene of the accident, but every driver involved needs to report the accident to the police station within 24 hours.
Do not tamper with evidence – if anyone has been injured do not move the vehicle until traffic officers give you the permission to do so. If the vehicles are obstructing the flow of traffic, they may be moved to allow other vehicles to pass.
Knowing what to do will mean that the matter can be dealt with as calmly as possible and will also help the car insurance process run more smoothly when you claim. By following this checklist you will ensure that all of your legal obligations have been fulfilled and when you have to file with your insurance company you will be able to give a good explanation of what happened.