Don’t be Rash, What to do if you Crash
The actions you must undertake following an accident differ based on whether the accident is a major or a minor one. This article will focus on the steps you should take in the event of a minor accident.
What is a Major Accident?
If the accident involves any deaths, serious injuries, confirmed involvement of drugs and/or alcohol or there’s a risk of explosion (due to chemicals leaking from the vehicles involved), then it is a major accident.
You would need to immediately call emergency services via 000 in order to call an ambulance, the fire brigade or the police. They will give you further instructions about what to do and it is crucial that you remain calm and follow instructions correctly.
What is a Minor Accident?
An accident without deaths, injuries or severe damages to the vehicles. A dent or a couple of scratches means a minor accident and you do not need to report this to the police. If the crash requires towing, you are legally allowed to organise your own tow and leave the area once the following steps are followed.
STOP THE CAR
Whether or not the accident is your fault, stopping the car is a critical step.
Don’t keep driving. Ensure you are in a safe spot away from traffic. If there’s an island or an emergency lane, move there. Otherwise, stay where you are.
Before you get out of the car
- Put on your hazard lights, pull up the handbrake and turn off the engine.
- Breathe deeply and try to get yourself calm. Fluctuating emotions are normal after an accident. If you’re calm, it’ll be easier to handle he situation.
- Check yourself for any injuries.
- Take your phone and your licence with you when you exit the car.
- Look around you to check there’s no passing cars before you open your door.
After you get out of the car
- Common courtesy dictates that you should ask the others involved in the incident whether they’re okay. If the accident was your fault, apologise. Repeatedly. If the other driver is acting very aggressively or abusively, move to a position of safety and immediately call the police, don’t react aggressively in response.
- Call The Police. This is necessary if the other driver failed to stop or swap details or if the accident is a major one (involves death or serious injury), and if one of the drivers involved is suspected to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- If the call necessitates police arriving at the scene, wait for them to arrive and calmly talk to them about what happened.
- Otherwise, you can inform them of the details over the phone (while your car is stationary and switched off).
- Gather evidence.
Note down the time, date and location of the crash
Exchange licence information with the other driver
Record the full name, address and licence number of the other driver. If you’re not the owner of the vehicle, you should provide the name and address of the owner.
Photographic evidence is crucial after any accident. You never know if the other driver will amplify the costs of their repairs or even damage their car further in order to get a higher insurance payout. To prevent this, you need to take photos of the damage to both cars. If there’s no damage, take a photo anyway.
These photos should also be of the general accident scene from different angles and include any skid marks or distinctive features that may be helpful.
Number plates and car details
You need to record the number plate of the car/cars involved in the incident. Ensure you also record the make and model of the vehicle. This is important for identification purposes and to prevent any fraudulent behaviour.
If there are any willing witnesses, collect their name and contact details so they can be contacted for a neutral third party account of the incident.
If police officers attend the crash site, you should note down their name, police station and contact details.
Ask the other driver about the name of their insurance company, the type of policy and policy number. Whatever you do, DO NOT offer or accept any cash.
Clear the Road. If there’s any debris or other potential hazards (e.g. large parts of tires, etc.) that may endanger other drivers or cause further accidents, you should attempt to remove them from the road. However, you must take care of your personal safety and keep an eye on traffic as you do so.
Once you return to your car
- Buckle your seatbelt and breathe deeply as you attempt to calm down.
- Keep yourself hydrated. If you don’t have water in your car, stop at the nearest servo and grab yourself one.
- Ensure you are completely calm before you start moving. If you’re tense, jerky and distracted by the prior incident, it’ll be difficult to react to hazards and make the split-second decisions that are often required when driving.
- Ensure there is a safe gap on the road before you pull out. If the incident occurred during peak hour traffic or you’re on a main road, don’t worry; take your time. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
When you get to your final destination
- Accidents can result in you being quite shaken up. To rectify that, keep yourself warm and hydrated. Make yourself a hot cuppa if need be.
- Take it easy, rest and unwind. If it’s your first accident, you will probably be feeling horrible. If it was your fault, even more so. Why not talk to a friend or loved one to help you destress?
- Call your insurance company to inform them about the incident. They will then ascertain who is at fault and act accordingly. If you make a claim, ensure you keep in touch with them.
- Don’t let this small incident defeat you. Be brave and get back onto the road ASAP. Ensure you take this slowly and have people you trust to support you in this endeavour.
We at L2P hope these steps are never necessary in a practical situation. Nevertheless, life is full of surprises. Despite how well you may drive, you cannot control other drivers around you or even the road conditions. If you do get into an accident, it’s critical that you’re prepared and know what to do.