Road accidents can happen to even the most cautious of drivers. Although you can ensure that you’re a safe driver, you can’t control other motorists’ actions, and finding yourself involved in a crash can be extremely scary. You're not likely to cover this in your driving lessons, so we've put together some simple advice so you know what to do after a car accident.
We can’t emphasise this point enough. Even if you think the other driver is at fault, losing your temper won’t make the situation any better. Before approaching the other motorist(s), take a few seconds to calm down. You will probably be in shock, and will need to take a couple of deep breaths before discussing anything.
Is anyone injured?
Make sure that no one is injured. You need to check that you, your passengers, and everyone else involved, is OK. If an ambulance is needed, make sure one has been called before doing anything else.
Switch off your engine and turn on your hazard lights
After a collision, turn off your engine to make sure the scene is safe. Depending on where you are, your car may be causing an obstruction. To avoid any further accidents, you should put on your hazard lights in order to warn other motorists.
If the accident is on a dual carriageway or motorway, do not sit in your car. Even if the car is on the hard shoulder and you have your hazard lights on, staying inside the vehicle is not safe. Instead, you should get everyone out of the car and as far away from the road as possible. If you are involved in an accident on a dual carriageway or motorway, the chances are that it occurred at high speed. The police should be called so that they can clear the scene safely, and determine what has happened.
After establishing that the scene is safe and that no one is injured, you should write down the names, addresses and number plates of any witnesses. You must also – by law – exchange details with the other driver(s) involved in the accident. Make sure you have their name, address, phone number, vehicle registration plate and insurance details before parting ways. Remember, you must also provide them with yours even if you don’t think that you’re at fault for the collision.
Take photos of the scene
If your mobile phone takes photos, take a few of the scene. Take them of different angles, as this will help you – and the police – later determine the cause of the crash. If you don’t have a camera handy, you should keep a notepad and pencil in your car. Make a sketch of the scene and note down anything important, such as weather conditions and actions of the other motorist(s).
Notify your insurance company
Regardless of whether you plan to make a claim, you should inform your insurance company of any accidents. Provide them with all the details and any photos you have of the incident. This way they are aware of the collision should another motorist put in a claim.
Accidents on the roads are, unfortunately, something that many people have to deal with every year. You can minimize your risk by driving defensively at all times, but, ultimately, anyone could find themselves involved in a collision. If you do find yourself needing to know what to do after a car accident, remember, above all, to cooperate with everyone at the scene and to stay calm.