Being involved in an accident can be a very traumatic experience and your nerves often get the better of you at the time. The problem arises later when one has to report the accident to the police or lodge a claim with your insurance company and you realize that you are not in possession of all the relevant information that is required.
We have prepared a simple guide on what to do if you are involved in an accident and have included a form where you can jot down all the particulars about the accident.
Our law states that if you are involved in or contribute to an accident on a public road in which a person is killed or injured or suffers damage in respect of his or her property or an animal, you must do the following:
- Stop your vehicle immediately. Pull over and park your vehicle in a safe position off the road, turn on your hazard lights and put a warning triangle, to warn other motorists;
- Determine the nature and extent of any injuries. Call 082 911 which will connect you to the NETCARE 911 national call centre where a dispatcher will ask you to provide your location and state briefly what happened, whether there is a fire and if anybody has been seriously injured. The dispatcher will advise you what you can do to assist the injured while the ambulance is en route to the scene.
- Help the injured if you are capable of doing so . It is always advised that you keep a first aid kit in your vehicle. Put on rubber gloves and try to calm the injured people by telling them that help is on the way. Try not to move the injured unless there is an immediate threat to life (eg: the vehicle is on fire) as you may worsen an underlying injury.
- Failure to provide assistance to others if you are capable of doing so can result in criminal charges being brought against you. However do not try to be a hero and jeopardize your own health and safety.
- Determine the nature and extent of any damage. This is where it is useful to draw a simple sketch of the positions of the vehicles and jot down briefly what had happened. Remember to note things such as the weather conditions, the condition of the road, the colour of the traffic lights etc.
- Give your name and address to any person who has reasonable grounds for requiring them, the name and address of the vehicle's owner and the vehicle's registration number. If you do not provide this information to the police or traffic officer at the scene, you must report the accident at a police station within 24hours and produce your driver's license, or as soon as is reasonably possible in the event that you are injured.
- Do not take any intoxicating liquor or any drugs which produce a narcotic effect unless it is medically administrated.
- If you do not stop after an accident that you are involved in, you may be prosecuted and if convicted, fined up to R 36,000.00 or imprisoned for a period of 9 years, or both.
You do not have to stop or report an accident if you only damage your vehicle. For example, if you crash into a tree, you need not stop or report the accident. However if you cause damage to property, such as a car or a light pole, you must stop and report the accident to the police.