Many of us have been in a car accident at some point during our time on the road. As there are certain rules you must obey if you are involved in an incident, are those same rules applied to those who witness an accident? Read on to find out what you should do if you witness an accident on the road.
What you should do if you witness an accident
- Stay calm and keep yourself safe
The first thing to remember when you see an accident is to stay calm, so that you can best help the people involved. But perhaps the most important thing to do is to keep yourself safe – if you put yourself in danger and it goes wrong, you won’t be much help to anyone.
- Call the emergency services
Let the emergency services know where the accident is, the number of casualties, the extent of any injuries, other potential dangers that may be present, and if anyone is trapped inside their vehicle.
- Stay in the area
It is important to stay in the area of the accident if you called the emergency services from your mobile, so that they can find you. This is also important if you were the sole witness of the accident, as the police may want to speak to you when they arrive to get your unbiased account of events.
- Look after and communicate with involved parties
Keep anyone injured warm and comfortable and let the people involved in the accident know that help is on the way.
- Make a note of vehicles leaving the scene
It is illegal to leave the scene of a car accident you were involved in, so make a note of the registration plate of any involved vehicle you see driving away from the scene.
- Gather and organise witnesses
Witnesses to an accident are most useful if everyone has a different responsibility. Find out if anyone is trained in first aid (or administer it yourself if you are trained to do so), ensure someone calls the emergency services, and task someone else with moving along onlookers to keep the area safe for passers-by.
- Warn other drivers
Use your hazard lights to warn other drivers of the accident, or signal from the pavement to stop approaching cars if necessary.
- Provide your contact information
If someone involved in the accident asks for your contact details, provide them. The police or the insurance companies can then get in touch if they need information from you. Though you are not legally obliged to do this, it may be very useful for the people involved.
- Write down what you witnessed
After the event, make notes in case you forget something that you may be asked about later. The stress of the accident and the way things can happen so quickly can alter your memory of events, so write down a detailed account afterwards.
What you shouldn’t do if you witness an accident
- Don’t cross carriageways
Don’t put yourself in danger when attending the accident either in your car or on foot, by crossing carriageways for example.
- Don’t smoke
It’s dangerous to smoke around a car accident as there could be a fuel leak, so avoid lighting up until later.
- Don’t move an injured person
It isn’t safe to move an injured person, unless it’s dangerous to leave them where they are, and the emergency services have told you to.
- Don’t move anything at the scene
It is illegal to move any involved vehicles or anything else from the scene, such as debris – even if it is blocking traffic.
- Don’t let anyone influence your account of events
Don’t let yourself be pressured into saying it was one party’s fault if it wasn’t, or be pushed into saying something you don’t agree with regarding how the accident occurred.