Witnessing a car accident can be an extremely stressful situation, particular when involving high impact crashes. Sometimes it’s hard to have clarity of mind when thinking of how to respond. However, you may be called on for key details after the event so it’s important to keep calm and collected. Depending on the severity of the accident, you may also have to ensure drivers and passengers are safe or receiving medical attention. Because there can be a lot to think about, it’s good to prepare yourself beforehand, so that should the worst happen, you know what to do. To help you think rationally in a moment of great panic and confusion, this article provides you with a guide on what to do – step by step – should you witness an accident.
1. Your safety first
Firstly, it is most important that you do not put yourself in danger. You won’t be able to help anyone much if you also end up getting hurt yourself. So, look around. Make sure there are no other traffic hazards that could harm you. Is there incoming traffic? Are there fallen power lines? Is there a petrol leak? Is there a potential for an explosion or ignition of some kind? Is there rapid water flowing? Is there a dangerous individual near or at the scene?
Wait for traffic to subside before stepping in to make sure everyone’s ok. If there are fallen power lines, avoid them altogether. And if you sense danger, call 000 to get help with the situation at hand first.
2. Others’ safety
If it is safe for you to approach the scene, you should check to see if the individuals inside the vehicle (or vehicles) are hurt. If they are, you will need to determine if the injuries are minor or major. If the individuals are in shock, have sustained visible injuries, are unconscious or unable to be reached, you should call emergency services immediately.
Triple zero (000) is the number for emergencies in Australia. From this point the personnel on the phone should be able to talk you through which approach to take and what to do. Depending on the condition of the individual(s) in the accident, you may be required to deliver CPR. It’s always a good idea to get training in CPR should this event ever occur. While many workplaces and schools deliver this, this isn’t always the case and you may be required to seek this training yourself. For a quick guide or refresher, check out this resource.
3. Call police or emergency services ONLY IF…
The situation requires critical attention, the drivers or passengers appear under the influence, or there is serious traffic congestion. A small crash may not require much intervention, if any at all. You only really want to call an ambulance if you think the situation is an emergency, meaning those involved are trapped or injured. Also, if you think the accident has caused the scene to become a hazardous environment where there’s a threat to public safety (fuel spills, fallen power lines, mangled cars, etc.), then you should explain this to the emergency phone responder who will also send out fire services.
Apart from medical emergencies, contact triple zero if the accident has caused traffic to become impacted or if people appear drunk, as police can assist with directing traffic and investigating illegal behaviour. Also, should any of the drivers not be willing to share their details, it’s a good idea to contact the police in this event as well.
As a side note, if you’ve ever been involved in an accident yourself, you probably know how stressful it can be and how quickly important details can slip from your mind. That’s why it’s important to come prepared. Save this pdf as a guide for what details you need to grab from the other driver in the event of a crash – you can even print it out and store a copy in your car for just in case!
4. Provide your details to those involved
If you feel comfortable, you can provide your details to the parties involved and express that you will act as a witness to the accident. This can be a great help to not only the individuals involved but their insurance companies and to emergency personnel. Your information may be critical to determining who was at fault and the seriousness of the incident.
5. Providing a statement from your perspective
If there is no emergency at hand but you still feel it’s best to keep a record of the event, you can still make a statement with the police for future reference. First make sure you’re certain all involved are safe and uninjured. To make a statement at a later point after the accident, contact Policelink 131 444 or attend your local police station to provide details of the accident. You can also follow this witness template provided by the QLD government as a guide for your statement.
As shown in the sample statement, you should do your best to accurately provide:
- Your name and contact details;
- How you were there to witness the accident (were you driving, walking, sitting in a restaurant? Where did you see it from?);
- Where the accident occured, the time of day, and date;
- What the conditions were like (weather, sediment on the road, wet road, etc.);
- Description of the incident in chronological order;
- Who you think was at fault and the damage caused to each vehicle;
- Any other information that may help (words you heard exchanged by individuals involved in the incident, further issues maybe refusal to provide details, aggressive behaviour, etc.).
How long will this go on for?
You should be aware that traffic claims and incidents can take a long time to resolve – it can take a while to even launch the claim, especially when both parties refuse fault, then the process can be longer. Usually, a car accident claim takes a few months to settle if all parties are cooperative. And only after can repairs start being carried out for the involved vehicles. So, keep in mind, your role as a witness to the event can be slightly more involved than you think.
Staying Safe on The Road
Witnessing a car accident can be pretty shocking and stressful; however, none of this compares to the instance of being in one. There are many steps you can take to ensure your safety on the road. Avoid these common distractions and certainly avoid using your mobile phone while driving. Further, you can optimise your car’s safety by making sure it’s seen its regular logbook services and you’ve repaired all windscreen chips before they’ve had the chance to crack. We can all work to minimise accidents by ensuring we’re all abiding by road rules and are driving safe cars.
Novus Autoglass is a nationwide provider of windscreen repairs and replacements. Novus uses the latest in repair technology to tend to your windscreen and offers a lifetime guarantee on all repairs and replacements. Contact Novus for your next service on 13 22 34.