On the road and in an accident – What to know and what to do
The peak travel period for the festive season is upon us and whether you’re involved in a bumper bashing or a more serious crash, whether you’re a driver, passenger or even an onlooker here’s a five-step guide on what to do after a vehicle accident:
Step 1 – Stop and call for help
- Stop your car and switch on your hazards to warn other drivers to be careful.
- If it is safe to do so, climb out of your car to check if anyone has been injured.
- If someone has been injured, contact an ambulance, or rescue unit. It’s critical that you do not move an injured party and that you do not administer first aid unless you are qualified to do so.
Step 2 – Clear the road
- Before moving any vehicles that are disrupting traffic, document their position on the road first by photographing the scene as well as the damages to all vehicles involved in the accident.
- If your vehicle cannot be moved, you will need to call a towing service. Contact your insurance company before agreeing to let anyone tow your vehicle.
- Under the National Road Traffic Act, 1996 (Act 93 of 1996) you need to remain at the scene of an accident until the police have arrived. Failing to stop is considered a criminal offence.
Step 3 – Assess the damage and take notes
- Get the details and record the information of everyone involved in the accident which includes their personal details, vehicle registration, tow-truck information, and insurance details.
- Take note of all road names, landmarks, intersections, and robots as you will need to draw a sketch and provide a description of the accident on your police report and for insurance purposes.
- The time of the accident, road conditions and visibility are also crucial to take note of.
Step 4 – Report the accident to the police
- Report the accident by informing the police within 24 hours of the accident at the accident scene or in person to any police or traffic department by providing proof of identification.
- Ensure that each party completes an accident report form and obtain an accident report number (AR) in order for any insurance claim, or third party claim you may want to lodge.
- If you are injured or in the hospital and cannot report the accident within 24 hours, do so as soon as possible and explain why your report is delayed. If a driver fails to give a reasonable explanation for the late reporting, he/she can be issued with a Written notice to Appear in Court (J534) or an Infringement notice in terms of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act 1998 (Act No. 46 of 1998).
- Remember to get the name and badge number of all responding officers as well as a copy of the accident report.
Step 5 – Report the accident to your insurance company
- Be prepared to answer detailed questions about the accident (what happened, with whom, when, where and how).
- Provide third party’s full contact details, ID number, vehicle registration and insurance information (if applicable).
- Depending on the policy terms and conditions of your insurance company you might need to submit a claim within a certain prescribed period.
- For a claim to be processed the turnaround time depends on the type and complexity of your claim.
Accidents are sometimes hard to avoid regardless of how careful you drive. Keeping the above five-step accident list ready can assist with being prepared for the worst.