A 6-step guide in the event of a road or traffic accident.
You never know what’s just around the corner, so stay prepared and in the know with our road safety guide
Crashes are thankfully rare, but they’re shockingly quick and scary – leaving you unable to think straight.
Unless you’re already prepared, that is. Here’s what you need to know.
The first thing to do is stop. It’s an offence to leave the scene of a collision. Even if nobody was injured you must swap names and addresses.
It doesn’t matter if you’re at fault or not, and even if there’s no other person there – you’ve hit a parked car, for instance – you must still stop and leave your details.
It’s an offence to refuse to give your details, but if you exchange them on a damage-only accident, there’s no need to notify the police.
2. Make sure everyone is safe
While you should stay near your car long enough to clear things up, this mustn’t be at the expense of safety.
If vehicles are in a dangerous position or blocking the road, make sure everyone’s out of the way and that someone warns approaching traffic.
But use your common sense, of course. You shouldn’t move a badly injured person, or send yourself or anyone else into a dangerous position trying to flag down oncoming cars. Only you can decide what’s safe.
3. Call the police
Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 requires that you report the accident to the police if a driver fails to stop, or refuses to exchange details, whether there’s injury or not. You must always notify the police if there’s an injury.
If somebody’s badly hurt or the scene is potentially dangerous, call 999. To report a collision where there’s no emergency, call 101 to avoid tying up the emergency line.
You must make your report within 24 hours – or you risk fine, points on your driving license or even find yourself disqualified!
4. Give the right details
It sounds harsh, but it’s best to avoid saying sorry or accepting blame at the scene. It could be used against you later. It’s better to wait until you know all the facts, and aren’t in an emotional or shocked state.
That’s not to say you should be awkward or confrontational. You must give your name and address to anyone involved, and call an ambulance for anyone who needs it.
5. Get the right details
Ask for names, addresses and phone numbers of those involved, and make sure the driver is the registered keeper. If not, ask who is and get their details too.
Note the make, model and colour of any vehicles, plus the number plates. You should also note the time and date, and take the names and addresses of any witnesses.
6. Take photos
Chances are you or a witness will be able to take pictures with your phone, so take shots of where the cars ended up, the damage and the road conditions. Record the scene from several angles so the details are clear.
If you don’t have a camera, sketch the positions of the cars and note the weather, the road conditions and any injuries. It will help you remember what really happened later.