Road Traffic Accident: What A Motorist Must Do After An Accident

First Things First

In the event of a road accident, there are a number of things that must be done, preferable in sequence, beginning with the first 4 items below.

The primary concern should be for identifying the injured and not the legal aspect. Even the law affirms that human life is the primary concern.

Regarding the sequence provided, the rest can be rearranged but for the safety of all concerned, the sequence of the first 4 items must be followed strictly.

Call for Assistance

To ensure the timely arrival of the authorities, it is advisable for motorists to put on their speed dial the emergency services hotline in their area.

It is best to do this concurrently with checking the persons involved in the accident.

Depending on the gravity of the situation, you may find it necessary to contact the police, emergency and fire rescue. Be sure to provide the specific details from the location, the number of people injured, extent of injury and presence of fire, or biological hazards.

Check All Persons Involved In the Accident

The next step would be to check on all the persons involved in the accident. Of course the primary focus would be the passengers in your motor vehicle after which you should check on the other parties involved.

Remember the rules of first aid regarding the movement of injured persons. For most cases, unless the person is in imminent and life threatening danger because of their position, they must not be moved.

Set Up Warnings for Other Motorists

It is very important to ensure that other motorists are warned as soon as possible about the accident. This is critical in areas where the other vehicles are moving fast and / or the accident site is relatively hidden and the other motorists may be caught by surprise. This may have dire consequences for those involved so set up your warning devices immediately.

Consider the speed of vehicles when setting up the warning devices. They must be warned well ahead of time and it is better to err on the side of warning too early than warning too late.

Stabilise the Area

Ensure that there are no hazards on scene that could lead to further injury. This would include the spillage of hazardous substances from either the vehicles or their cargo.

Check for fuel and oil leaks and in the presence of such, it may be necessary to move the injured to a safer location. If this is not possible, then the hazard must be neutralized.

Have a fire extinguisher handy for an eventuality.

Survey Accident Scene

After the persons involved are attended to and the area duly marked and stabilized, the next step would be to survey the accident scene.

This is to ensure the proper documentation of the accident later.

Try to reconstruct the events from your vantage point and that of the others involved in the accident.

Take Photographs

It would be most ideal to take as many photographs of the scene as possible, from all possible angles. However, do not, under any circumstances, take photos from a position that may put you in harm’s way.

Always be aware of the other vehicles in the area as your presence in an improper location could conceivably lead to other accidents for which you may be held liable.

Any camera will do, even a mobile phone camera. The important thing is to be able to show how things were at the time of the accident.

Things such as lighting, shadows, road hazards and other items that can be photographed may prove to be invaluable later on.

So shoot as many photos as possible from as many different angles but always keep your safety a paramount concern.

Document the Incident

It is also important to take notes. Reconstruct the accident sequence by way of your notes while the incident is still fresh in your mind.

All details must be noted, however minor as these may be critical in determining and establishing the cause of the accident.

The Road Traffic Act Of 1988

The Road Traffic Act of 1988 is an Act that defines in its sections all the different laws and regulation concerning drivers and vehicles.

What is Embodied in the Road Traffic Act Of 1988 and 1991?

The Road Traffic Act of 1988 can be seen as a kind of mother document with the 1991 Act being a supplementary. This supplementary came about when some agencies saw that the portion about bad driving and other offenses seemed lacking and hard to enforce.

In response to this, the 1991 Act supplements the 1988 document and provides more logical and easier to enforce sections regarding dangerous driving and other offenses.

Legal Obligations under the Road Traffic Act

Under the Road Traffic Act, Section 170, Part VII Entitled Miscellaneous and General refers to Duties In Case of Accident.

In this portion, the Act calls for those involved to stop, report the accident and to produce documents.

It clearly states that it is the driver’s duty to STOP.

The failure to stop is of course considered an offence.

The driver is duty bound to report the accident. This can be done immediately if there are injuries present. Or it can be within 24 hours at a police station. This is a duty required of the driver.

Certain documents must be provided by the driver. This will include your license, registration and insurance documents. It is stressed that if you fail to produce documents, that is also an offense. But if you are able to produce documents within 5 days from the accident, then you will not be convicted.

New Claims Process Introduced In 2008

In 2008, a new claims process was introduced to streamline the claims process for road accidents.

This is in view of the fact that road traffic accidents accounted for three quarters of all personal injury claims.

So the government recognized a need to streamline and ensure that the claims process will proceed faster in order to get the benefits to the claimants faster.

Useful Links

Motor Insurance Bureau Claiming against an uninsured driver

Careless Driving Penalties for careless driving