What you should have learned at school: what to do in a car accident

Every week, Perdeby takes a look at something you should have learned at school that would assist you in day to day life. This week, we take a look at what to do in the event of a car accident.

Car accidents are an unfortunate part of life. They can be very stressful. Here are a few tips regarding what to do when involved in one.

1. Stop

You are legally obliged by Section 61 of the National Road Traffic Act (93 of 1996) to stop after an accident if there are other vehicles, pedestrians, or another person’s property involved. If you fail to do so, you are liable to be prosecuted and possibly fined up to R36 000.

2. Call for help

If possible, call for help as soon as you stop. If the accident is serious and/or someone is injured, phone an ambulance and the police (you are required to do so by law). You need to tell them about the accident (briefly, as they will need to hurry to you), your location, and the nature of the injuries if there are any. If the accident was not that bad, phone a friend, family member, or significant other to make them aware of the situation in case you need assistance. If your car is not driveable after the accident, phone a roadside assistance company such as AA.

3. Assess the damage

If it is safe to do so, step out of your car and analyse the situation. Make note of where the damage is, how bad it is, and whether or not your car is drivable. Remember to take photographs for evidence for insurance. For a comprehensive set of evidence, take photos of all of the cars involved. Assess whether anyone is injured. If so, help them immediately, but do not try to play doctor. If it is a serious injury, you are legally obliged to help (such as stop the bleeding) and wait until the ambulance arrives.

4. Get the other drivers’ and witnesses’ information

It is important to get the other drivers’ and witnesses’ information for insurance purposes and, if it was a serious accident, the police case. Make sure you take down the names, contact details, vehicle registration numbers, insurance details, and license numbers of the other drivers involved. Ensure you get the names and contact details of witnesses for evidence purposes.

5. Report the accident

Go straight to the nearest police station (as the accident is in their jurisdiction) and file a report. It is best to do this immediately after the scene is cleared so you can clearly recall the details of the accident, but you have 24 hours to report the accident. If the police are on the scene, you do not need to do this; however it is a legal offense to fail to report an accident in which another driver, pedestrian, and/or another person’s property is involved

6. Rest

Accidents can have harsh psychological effects, regardless of the severity. It is recommended that you rest and recuperate after the accident. Eat something sugary to combat the crash after the adrenaline rush. Make sure you look after yourself. Take a nap, have a bubble bath, do whatever you need to do to relax. Allow yourself to recover mentally as well as physically.

List of emergency numbers to have on your phone:

Nationwide emergency response: 10111

Cellphone emergency: 112

Ambulance response: 10177 or 012 310 6300


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