Nobody ever wants it to happen to them, but the statistics suggest that some of us will at some time be involved in a car accident of some kind. For many it might just be a relatively minor collision that hopefully doesn't result in any injuries, but sometimes it can be more serious. Thankfully modern cars are becoming increasingly safer
and despite more and more vehicles taking to our roads, fatalities are declining.
Even if you are lucky enough to never be involved in an incident, you may find yourself in the position of being the first to arrive at the scene of an accident. Doing the right things in a situation such as this can often prove vital to helping others and potentially preventing things from becoming even more serious. Here’s some advice on what do to if it happens to you.
What if you arrive upon a car accident?
1 - Remain calm & know where you are!
It can be a shock to come across accident, especially if it’s a more serious one or one that involves a number of vehicles. Try to calmly assess the scene, look at what has happened and look to see if there is still any dangerous element to it. If you are the first to arrive check to see if anybody has been injured and if so, just how many and gauge how severely.
Contact the emergency services and inform the operator in as much detail as possible of where the accident has occurred and how many people have been involved. Giving clear and concise information at this stage can be hugely beneficial to ensuring that the emergency services can respond in the best possible way. If you don't know, use your smartphone to get a location, there are apps like GPS Location
on android or Free GPS
on Apple that will give you your location quickly and easily. Also, be aware of the LRI signs
on a motorway and national roads, these will also provide the location for the emergency services - see the image below:
2 - Make the scene safe
If you’re in your own vehicle stop it a safe distance from the scene and if possible park it in a protective manner in relation to the scene, i.e. one that will protect any injured people in case they may be on the ground. If you do this make sure that your own vehicle doesn't pose any danger to creating a secondary accident, for example, by parking it in the middle of a bend - and apply your hazard warning lights. We would recommend that you carry a warning triangle at all times in your boot, which in this case will help highlight the danger to other road users, especially at night. Even better is a mini emergency kit
, which contains a hi vis jacket, warning triangle and a first aid kit.
3 - Keep a cool head
Understandably those involved could be very worked up, upset or scared so keeping a cool head is vital. In the event of more serious accidents there may be injuries so ensure that you don’t do anything that could compound this before the emergency services arrive on scene. Speak to the people involved and try to keep them calm. Inform them that the emergency services are on the way. Check to see if there are any additional potential dangers such as leaking fuel; if so try to make sure that there are no further risks such as car ignitions being left on. Do not attempt to move any injured people from their vehicles unless there is an immediate danger such as fire, as you may cause further and more severe injury by doing so.
4 - Remember the scene
Depending on the exact circumstances, you may be considered a witness to the accident so once the emergency services arrive try to make a note of exactly what happened. If you have a smartphone or camera on you then take some photographs that may help you remember everything. It’s also a good idea to give your own details to the emergency services at the scene in case they need to contact you.
What if it’s you that’s in the accident?
If you find yourself in the position of being in an accident here are some tips on what to do.
1 - Are you ok?
The most important thing to do first is to ascertain if you’re injured. The shock of a sudden accident can fill your body with adrenaline and you may not notice even a nasty injury immediately. Once you assess yourself, check on anyone else that may have been in the vehicle with you and then on any other parties involved. Call the emergency services if there are any injuries - don’t wait for someone else to do it.
2 - Should you move your vehicle?
If the accident is a serious one and people have been injured in some way then don’t move any vehicles. If you have a warning triangle
in your car then place it on the road about 20 metres before the scene to give sufficient warning to oncoming traffic.
If, on the other hand, the accident has been a relatively minor one and it is immediately clear that nobody involved has sustained any injuries, there’s no sense in causing massive traffic tailbacks for a little dent to the bumper. In this case move the vehicles to the far left of the road (when safe to do so) and make sure that they are parked in a safe position that doesn't pose a risk to other road users - and activate the car’s hazard warning lights. Please also ensure you stay safe yourself, so stand behind the barrier if on a motorway.
You may still wish to contact the police to inform them of what has happened, however please note that there's no law stating that someone has to inform the Gardai that there has been an accident. If one party takes responsibility the Gardai don't need to be involved at all.
3 - Exchange details
In order to reduce any potential insurance headaches down the line make sure that all parties involved exchange correct and relevant particulars. Legally you are not allowed to withhold this information from another party so make sure that you get everything you need from those involved. It's handy to carry some insurance details with you in your glove box in case anything ever does happen.
The important information you will need includes:
- Names, addresses and contact numbers of all of those involved including driver’s licence numbers
- If the vehicle is being driven by someone that doesn't own it, including your own one, make sure that the vehicle owner’s details are also exchanged
- Motor insurance policy numbers (displayed on the windscreen)
- All vehicle details including make, model, registration and colour
- If you can, take photographs of all three discs on the windscreen: insurance, tax and NCT/MOT
- Get the name of the Garda officer that attended the scene
Being in an accident is never a good thing, but by following these tips and advice it could make life a lot easier afterwards.