By Emsie Martin
A car accident happens in a wink and usually you are in shock and cannot think straight. If nobody was seriously injured but the car suffered a lot of damage, it is good to know the procedure to be followed.
- If the engine is still idling, switch it off to make sure that a spark does not perhaps start a fire.
- Do not leave the scene, it is a punishable offence. Stand out of danger and keep calm.
- If you are in shock, call somebody to support you.
- Activate the hazard warning flashers or put out the red warning triangles to warn other drivers of the accident. Take photos of the accident scene if possible.
- Call for medical assistance and the police.
- If the vehicle can still be moved, move it to the shoulder of the road, away from oncoming traffic.
- Leaving the cars in the middle of the road could cause further accidents and injuries.
- If there are serious injuries, do not move the injured people unless you have the medical knowledge or training to handle such patients.
- After the accident, exchange the following information with the other party: full name, ID numbers, address, cell-phone number, business number, insurance company and policy number, vehicle registration numbers.
- If the driver is not the insured person, confirm the relationship and write down the names and addresses of all the passengers.
- Make notes. Take note of all details on the scene. Write down everything that happened before and after the accident, the time and place as well as visibility at the time of the accident. Did the other person appear intoxicated or was he or she perhaps talking on a phone?
- Document the damage to all the vehicles. If you have your cell phone with you, take photos from different angles as well as of the damage to your car and the other car.
- Do not argue with anybody, accuse anybody or admit any guilt. When you make a statement with the police, give only the most essential information.
- Make sure that you know from what police station the members on the scene came, who the officers were and what their force numbers are.
- If there are witnesses, try to get their contact details. They could be of help if the other driver disagrees with your version of the accident.
- Always have the number of a reliable tow-in service at hand.
- If your car insurance covers tow-in services, do not allow your vehicle to be removed by any other tow-in service.
- If your vehicle has to be towed away, ask for a quotation before it is removed. Get the name and contact details of the driver of the breakdown vehicle and ask where the vehicle is being taken to. Write down the name on the vehicle and the registration number.
- Although the police normally do not come out to an accident scene, the drivers must submit a vehicle accident report at a police station within 24 hours. Sometimes such a report speeds up insurance claims. Make sure you get a case number.
- Be informed about what your insurance covers.
Being familiar with the contents of your specific insurance policy could speed up the whole process. Check your policy regularly for specific details. Keep your insurance contact numbers in your vehicle, especially the 24-hour road assist number.
UTASA has a handy number on its website. Download the document, print it and keep it in your car.
UTASA (United Towing Association of South Africa)