It’s one thing starting the New Year with a bang, but what if your 2021 starts with a prang? Not nice, but they happen to someone, somewhere every day.
Being involved in a collision – even one without injury – is an unpleasant and scary business. Often, it’s nobody’s fault, just simply an accident, especially when snow and ice on the roads is involved. But do you know what to do if you have an unplanned coming together with another driver?
These 10 top tips, compiled with the help of safety organisation IAM Roadsmart, can help you sort out the mess of an accident and get you on your way again, safely and legally.
1. Stop your vehicle
Stop your vehicle as soon as possible, if it is safe to do so. Failing to stop after an accident is an offence. If you can’t stop at the scene, you must report the collision to the police as soon as practicable, and in any case within 24 hours.
2. Stay safe
If you’re involved in a collision on the motorway, and you’re uninjured and able to safely get the vehicle to the hard shoulder or emergency refuge, make sure you move to a safe place like behind the crash barrier.
If you are in a live lane and are unable to move your car, put your hazard lights on and call for help. Stay in your car if possible and keep your seatbelt on – avoid
In a residential area, ensure your hazard lights are on and move to a safe place to inspect your vehicle.
3. Hazard lights
Switch on your hazard lights to alert other motorists. Regardless of whether you’ve left your car or are still in it, make sure that other drivers have the best chance of seeing you.
4. Keep calm
Remain calm. You may be in shock and it’s normal to feel shaken after a collision, but it’s important you do not drive away until you feel able to do so safely.
5. Speak to the other party
Speak to the other driver or drivers involved. You need to supply your name and address, the details of the owner of the car and the insurance details if you have them. Make sure you record these details from the other drivers as you will need them if you make an insurance claim.
There’s no need, and no point, getting in to an argument about who was at fault for the shunt. It’s likely to be a stressful enough time already, so avoid making any unnecessary comments to the other party involved.
6. Do you need an ambulance?
If you or any other party is injured, call an ambulance.
7. Take photos
Take photos of any damage on both your car and theirs. Try to get at least one photo which includes the registration number, to confirm that it’s actually your car that your photographing. Shots of the area where the collision happened may also be useful.
While you’re at it, take at least one photo of the other car(s) involved, and again make sure you have the registration number in case you need it later. It can happen that another driver gives you a false name and phone number, so at least have the registration number of their car.
In short, it’s better to take too many photos than too few. You can always delete them later if you don’t need them.
8. Don’t admit anything
Do not admit liability. Stick to the facts and report these accurately to your insurance company. Again, there’s no need to agree or disagree with the other driver about who was right or wrong in the shunt
9. Speak to witnesses
If there are witnesses, make sure you speak to them and get their details. They may be able to give a statement to the police or your insurance company.
10. Check your dash camera
If you have a dash camera, the footage could be useful to the police and your insurance company to help apportion blame. Make sure you save it and don’t allow it to overwrite.
You should call the police if:
- anyone is injured
- the road is blocked
- the accident is causing a hazard or danger
- the collision involves a large animal or a dog and the owner is not present
- you think the other driver is under the influence of drink or drugs or is guilty of a traffic offence
- if the other driver doesn’t stop, refuses to exchange details or leaves the scene
If you are unsure about anything or have any suspicions, speak to the police. They may not attend the scene but will record the call and give advice.
“Being involved in a collision can be stressful. Even a minor bump can disable a car and prove costly,” says Richard Gladman, IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards.
“Make sure you get as much information as you can from the other driver and any witnesses. Try to stay calm. It is likely that no matter who is to blame, the other party is feeling just as much stress as you are. The main priority is to make sure everyone is safe while dealing with the collision.”