With thousands of drivers on the roads each day, there are many near-misses and accidents that happen, all over the UK. It can be scary, or even traumatic, to witness or come across an accident, even if the outcome isn’t very severe.
You may feel shocked or stunned, and feel like you’re unsure what to do next. If you’re in the unfortunate position of witnessing a car accident, there are a few things that you can do to help.
Stop when it is safe to do so
If you didn’t see the accident happen and the emergency vehicles have already arrived, you don't need to stop to offer assistance. Rule 282 of the Highway Code requires that you do not get distracted, and that you do not slow down unnecessarily if you come across an accident. It is an offence to fail to stop or to fail to report an accident in which you are involved.
If you’re a witness to, or the first person to come across an accident, safety is the first priority. Stop, where it is safe to do so, and put on your hazard warning lights.Ensure that you leave enough space for an emergency vehicle to pass through. If possible, use a warning triangle 45 metres before the accident. As well as these steps, ask drivers to switch off their engines, and stop smoking, if it’s applicable.
Offer help and care if you’re able to
If the emergency services have not yet been called, ring 999 and report the accident as soon as you can. This is especially important if you’re the first one on the scene.
The Highway Code requires you to move any uninjured people out of harm’s way. If you see that someone is injured, do not move them unless they are in immediate danger. Try to keep any injured parties warm and dry, putting blankets over them. Do not remove a motorcyclist’s helmet unless it’s essential to do so. Be prepared to give first aid.
Provide a witness account
People involved in an accident may ask you to provide a witness account. While you are not legally obliged to provide a witness account, the police may ask you for a witness statement.
If you witnessed the accident happening, try to stay nearby in case you are required to provide an account of what happened. Try and take note of vehicle number plates of all parties, especially if someone who is involved in the accident is driving away.
Check your dash cam
If you were driving behind a vehicle involved in a collision and you have a dash cam installed, it is likely that you will have video footage of the incident. This could provide vital information to help to identify who is at fault.
A dash cam not only offers you protection from false claims, but can help in the event that you’ve witnessed an incident, either to prove that you were not involved or to help to pinpoint the party at fault.
If the accident was serious and you feel like you can help by sharing your dashcam footage, get in touch with your local police authority, leave your details and describe what happened, letting them know that you have footage of the incident should it be required. Some police forces have now set up schemes, such as Operation Snap in Wales, allowing members of the public to submit footage and accounts of accidents or near misses that they have witnessed.
If you come across an incident, you could be a vital support for someone involved. In addition, your dash cam will act as an independent witness should you see or be involved in an accident. Take a look at our range of dash cams today, and stay safe!