If you have an accident
More than 1700 people die in crashes on the UK’s roads each year – and more than 22,000 receive serious injuries. Even a minor collision without injury can be frightening and stressful. In this section we offer advice which we believe will help you, both at the scene of a crash and in the follow-up afterwards.
What the law says
Not every collision needs to be reported to the police. Most minor crashes can be dealt with by exchanging details. The Road Traffic Act (1988) states that if you are involved in an accident which causes damage or injury to any other person, vehicle, animal or property, you must stop, give your name and address (plus if appropriate the name and address of the vehicle’s owner) and the vehicle registration number to anyone having reasonable grounds for requiring them.
- Try to remain calm at the scene of a crash. Make your own safety your top priority. Don’t do anything, however seemingly noble or helpful, that could make the situation any worse.
- Once you have attended to your own safety, you can then think about others. Encourage anyone uninjured to move to a place of safety. Make sure – if it’s safe – to immobilize any vehicles and check for hazards such as leaking fuel or debris.
- Warn approaching traffic using hazard lights, flashing lights and warning triangles. If possible use reflective clothing. Seek the assistance of another person if necessary.
- Call the emergency services or ask someone else to call. Don’t assume that this will have been done. It’s better that there are three or four calls reporting the same crash than none at all.
Try to assess how many casualties there are and the extent of their injuries. Is anyone trapped? Is there a danger of fire? Try to locate a qualified first aider who can assist before professional help arrives. If there is no expert help available, then you should try to assist the most seriously injured casualties, typically in this order:
- Unconscious – open the airway, check for breathing and circulation
- Serious bleeding – apply direct pressure to the wound. If possible, lift the injured area to reduce blood flow.
- Broken bones – keep the casualty still and support the broken bone with a blanket, cushion or clothing
Please note that these tips are meant for general guidance. We recommend that you learn effective first aid techniques by attending a formal course of instruction. First aid training courses are offered by organisations such as The Red Cross and the St John Ambulance
If anything does need to be reported to the police, then it is the driver who must do it. You can’t send someone in your place. Remember, it’s not good enough to stop after a collision, check your own vehicle for damage then drive off in the hope that no one else saw. You are required to take reasonable steps to find the owner of property or driver of any vehicle that has been damaged.
Frequently asked questions:
Q: Presumably there are exemptions to the rule about reporting a collision where certain animals are concerned? For example, I don’t have to stop the car or tell the police if I run over a rabbit, do I?
A: The law requires that if you have a collision where damage is caused to cattle, a horse, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog (unless it is being carried in your own vehicle or trailer) then you must stop and if possible exchange details with the animal’s owner. Otherwise you must report the collision to the police.
Q: What happens if I’m injured in an accident which is the fault of a driver who turns out to be uninsured?
The Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) is funded by UK insurers and compensates victims of uninsured drivers. This means you can still make a successful claim, even if the driver at fault was uninsured.
Q: Let’s say I collide with a parked car, causing damage to that car. Have I fulfilled my obligations by leaving a note on the windscreen with my details?
A: In fact you have not. It’s a good step to take, but because you have not been able to exchange details you are required to report the collision to the police.
The information on this Site is provided on the understanding that GEM Motoring Assist is not rendering legal or other advice. You should consult your own professional advisers as to legal or other advice relevant to any action you wish to take in connection with this website.