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Involved in or witnessed a crash

Being involved in or witnessing a road traffic collision can be stressful and upsetting.

Especially if a person or animal is injured, see below for our advice on what to do if you witness or are involved in a collision or if you need to make a 999 call.

If you are involved in a road traffic collision

  • Stay calm and do not panic.
  • Contact the authorities. For road traffic collisions the best practice is to ask for the ambulance service if anyone is injured and report it to the police as soon as possible.
  • If anyone is injured you have a legal obligation to report the road traffic collision to the police.
  • Gather witnesses information. Take contact details and if possible ask for a short statement.
  • Exchange information with other parties involved in the collision. Keep the conversation simple, name, address, contact number, registration and the make and model of car.
  • Contact your insurance company.
  • Make notes about which way you were heading on the road, your approximate speed, any obstructions, and the general road conditions. Avoid discussing this with the other driver.

If you have been involved in a road traffic collision you must stop and stay at the scene for a reasonable period of time. If you don’t exchange details at the scene, you must report the accident at a police station or to a police officer as soon as you can and within 24 hours.

If you witness a road traffic collision

  • Stay calm and keep yourself safe.
  • Access the situation and check to see what the dangers are, these might include approaching traffic, leaking petrol, broken glass
  • If you need to stop approaching cars signal them from the pavement
  • If you are in a car when you approach an accident, park safely and turn off your engine. Don’t cause any more accidents make sure your hazed lights are on.
  • Do not cross carriageways.
  • Do not light cigarettes in case there is a petrol spillage.
  • Do not use you mobile phone near the crash.
  • Call the emergency services.
  • If you are a competent first aid trained you may wish to assess the injuries and apply first aid to stabilise the casualties. If you do not have first aid skills then do not attempt to help the injured person, you could do more harm than good.
  • Let the people involved know that help is on the way, try to keep them calm and talk to them and reassure them.

Making a 999 call

  • On dialling 999 the operator will ask you which emergency service you require.
  • For road traffic collisions the best practice is to ask for the police. The police operator will then inform the ambulance and fire and rescue service if they are required. The decisions the police operator come to will depend on the information you provide to them.
  • If in doubt call all three services.
  • Do not rely on other witnesses to call in the collision. It is better for lots of people to call rather than no emergency call being made.
  • Only call 999 in an emergency.

You will need to provide the following information:

  • Where you are:
    • The road number.
    • Any points of reference e.g. towns, villages, shops, garages or public houses. This will help you describe your location to the emergency operator.
    • What has happened:
    • Number of vehicles involved.
    • Types of vehicles (cars, HGV, LGV, motorcyclists etc).
    • Casualties:
    • How many people are injured.
    • Whether they are breathing or bleeding.
    • If anyone is trapped in vehicles.

Don’t worry if you forget to tell the emergency operator any of the above as they will prompt you for the information they require.

Listen to the any advice the emergency services operator may be able to give you.

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