None of us want to be involved in a collision but accidents happen, and it is important that you have a good idea of what to do if it happens to you. In an emergency, common sense can easily evaporate as the adrenaline courses through your veins, and you deal with the shock of the situation. It can help to know what needs to be done just in case, so that if you do go into autopilot, you have some innate knowledge. Here are the basics.
- Stop the car. As soon as it is safe to do so, stop your vehicle. Don’t be tempted to drive on to a more convenient spot as leaving the scene is against the law.
- Turn off your engine and turn your hazards on.
- Make sure that you and your passengers are ok and assess for injuries.
- Exit the vehicle and check to see if anyone else involved in the incident is injured.
- If the vehicle is smoking or in a place of risk, get everyone out of the vehicle immediately.
- If anyone is hurt, if the road is blocked, if you believe the incident may have been deliberate or alcohol or drugs are involved, call 999 or use the SOS phone to call an ambulance or the police (or both). If nobody is hurt, the road is not blocked and the vehicles can be safely driven, you do not need to call the police immediately.
- If you have not already cleared the vehicle, make sure that all passengers and pets are removed and located in a safe space (unless injuries prevent them from being moved).
- Swap names, addresses, car registration number, vehicle owner (if the vehicle is not in your name) and insurance details with all parties. If there are witnesses, ask for their details in case you or your insurance company need further information.
- DO NOT TAKE RESPONSIBILITY OR APOLOGISE. The instinct to apologise regardless of who is at fault is admirable but could be costly. If you apologise, the verbal statement can be used to imply guilt, which could mean that you are responsible for all of the costs and compensation.
- Inform the police. If you didn’t need to call emergency services because the road wasn’t blocked and an ambulance wasn’t needed, you are required by law to report the collision within 24 hours. You can pop into a local police station or call 101. It is advisable that you do this as soon as possible.
Most of us will be involved in a minor collision at some point in our lives but knowing how best to deal with it can help to minimise the stress. Whilst it is important that you contact your insurer, if the damage to your and other vehicles is non-existent or minimal, it may be advantageous to fix it yourself rather than pay an excess and potentially lose your no claims bonus. Pop to your local garage or bodywork shop for a quote.