It’s every driver’s worst nightmare. Going along on your daily business, only to be broken out of your driving daze by a crash, bang and/or wallop.

While some road accidents can be more severe than others, being involved in a road traffic accident can often be a scary experience.

So, if you are involved in a collision, or have been a witness to an incident– here are some tips to help you manage the situation.

Assess the situation

The first thing you need to do is quickly assess the situation. Whether it was a low-speed impact or something more severe, you need to examine your surroundings and make some quick decisions.

Has anyone been hurt in the accident? Whether it’s a passenger in your car, the other car, a pedestrian nearby, or even you yourself, if someone is hurt, you need to assess just how injured they are.

If you have any suspicion that someone has suffered a serious injury, you need to contact 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

If no one is injured, you need to assess and see if there is any danger to other drivers or members of the public.

Has the incident happened on a blind corner that could lead to a further accident? Are you obstructing the opposite lane? Are you on the pavement?

If you feel that your car poses a danger to other people, you should be prepared to move your car, but only exit the car if it’s safe to do so.

If you have any warning signs or cones in your car that you can use to alert other drivers to the problem, you should put these out.


Don't become a victim of road rage 

If the incident was your fault, or even if it wasn’t, the situation can quickly become an aggressive one.

Road rage can happen at the best of times, so when an accident has happened beware of angry drivers.

If you feel unsafe because the other driver has become aggressive, stay in your vehicle and contact the police.

You may need to lock your doors and sit there as they shout expletives at you, but getting into a physical confrontation is not going to help anyone.

The same is the case if you find yourself angry about the incident. No matter how stupid the other driver was behaving, getting into a fight will not help you in the long term.

Don’t drive away

Whatever happens, do not simply drive away. Failing to report an accident is a crime. If it was your fault, it is always best to just be open about it and stay around to face the music.

Driving away is only going to make you look guilty, and will land you in trouble with the police.


Take down some details

If it is safe to do so, get out of the car and speak to the other driver. Now is the time to take down some details of the accident.

You should make a note of their licence plate first. There is no obligation for you to pass on your contact details, such as phone or address, so if you feel uncomfortable doing so, then don’t.

Your insurer and the other party’s insurer will be able to talk to each other about the details. You might want to ask for their name, but that again is optional.

Depending on where the incident has taken place, you might want to take photos of the damage caused to you and the other car.

Use your camera phone and make sure you get several angles of the different impact zones. You may want to take some of the area surrounding you too, so you can support any claims you might have to the cause of the incident.

Taking down these details will ensure that if the other driver does decide to drive off, especially if it was their fault, then you have all you need to report it.

Speak to witnesses

There’s a good chance that other people will have witnessed the incident, so speak to them and ask if you can take down contact details for them, even if it’s just their licence plate number.

You can use these and supply them to your insurer, especially if you are trying to support your side of the story. But don’t badger or pressure people to take your side of the story.


Report the accident 

If the accident has resulted in an injury, then you have 24 hours to report it to the police. You will need to give them your personal details and the details of your insurer.

If the car you were driving wasn’t yours, you will also need to provide the details of that vehicle too.

Call your insurance company

Now’s the time to speak to your insurer. They may have strict procedures in place for dealing with incidents, ranging from arranging a breakdown or recovery truck, to sending a hire car to pick you up.

You should explain to them all the details of the incident and the information you have collected. Send them the photos to check.

If the incident was your fault, be aware that they might ask you about this. If you are unsure at all whether it was your fault, then you should be clear about that.


Don’t ignore your injuries

Once the incident has passed, you may be forgiven for trying to put it all behind you. But even minor collisions can cause lasting injuries.

If you feel any aches or pains, particularly in your head or back, you should try and see a doctor as soon as possible.

Any doubt at all, go to the hospital emergency unit and have them examine you. Even if it’s nothing, it’s better to get it checked.

What to do if you witness an accident

If you witness an accident, you should pull over somewhere safe and check on the occupants of the vehicle. If they need help, call for assistance.

The best thing you can do is be a calming presence, working to try and ease the situation as much possible. Both parties will thank you later once things have calmed down.

Make as many notes as possible - licence plates, what happened, who you believe to be at fault. Pass your details on to the police, and, if someone has driven away without stopping, you may want to call them.

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