What to do at an accident scene when you are involved

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If you are involved in an accident, or perhaps have witnessed one, you may not be thinking as clearly as you should. Knowing what to do at the scene could not only save a life, but could help you at a later stage. Keep this document in your vehicle or on your person and make reference to it if the need arises:

If you have been involved in an accident, the most important thing to do is immediately ensure the safety of all persons involved in the accident. This means that you must take steps to secure the scene and your passengers or the passengers of the other vehicles from further danger, such as having someone slow down or warn approaching traffic, place out your warning triangle. If you are involved in an accident that causes injury to or the death of anyone, or which causes damage to property or any animal, you are required by law to stop your vehicle. It is a crime not to stop after an accident, and you could be fined up to R36,000, or sent to prison for up to nine years, or both. You do not have to stop or report an accident if for example, you crash into a tree and only damage your own car and you yourself are the only one that gets hurt. But, if you damage someone else's property you must stop and then report the incident at the nearest police station. When you stop, you should switch on your hazard lights to warn other traffic of the accident.

After you have stopped, you need to find out if anyone is hurt and help them as much as you can. You also need to call emergency services if it is required. The national 24-hour emergency number is 084124 or you can phone the SAPS on 10111. If you don't know anything about first aid, be careful not to do anything that might make the injury worse. Unless you yourself need to go for help, you must stay at the scene until a police officer says you can leave. You can be criminally charged for failing to help anyone who is hurt in the accident.

You will need to find out how much damage has been caused to property. You need to give your name and address and vehicle registration number to anyone who might need them.

Attempt to avoid discussing the details of the accident or how it happened with the other driver. You do not want anything taken out of context or attributed to you that you did not say. Remain calm even if the other driver becomes irate. If you are involved in the accident, you should try to get the following information from all parties involved and witnesses: • • • • • Full Name/s of other drivers: _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ ID number/s: _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Addresses: _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Telephone contact detail/s: _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Vehicle registration number/s: _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________


Insurance company / brokers details: _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Descriptions of the vehicles/ make / series / year model / colour: _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Details of police & traffic officers & ambulance personnel: _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Details of tow truck personnel: _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Details of any witnesses: - VERY IMPORTANT: _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Name of location of accident / street name/s: _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Date & time of accident: _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ If the accident is at an intersection or on a city street, make a note of any malfunctioning traffic signals or missing or damaged stop signs. Watch the traffic signals for several changes to ensure proper functioning, in all directions. If you observe a malfunction, make sure to report it to the investigating police officer _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Observe the other vehicle to see if any obvious mechanical problems are apparent, malfunctioning headlights, blinkers or other items could later prove to be significant. Again, report any visible signs to the investigating officer _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ draw a basic diagram of the accident scene:

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Perhaps most importantly and if possible, take pictures of the scene, and if possible video footage, including various pictures of the vehicles involved and the damages to the vehicles, as well as all marks on the road surface, or return as soon as possible to take pictures of the scene. All of this information will help you if you intend making a claim against your insurance or against the Road Accident Fund, or if you want to claim the costs of repairs from the other party.

The police do not have to be called to the scene if no one has been hurt, but the accident must be reported - by both drivers - at a police station or traffic office within 24 hours. At a later stage, you, your insurers or your lawyers may need a copy of the accident report that is filled out by the police. You have to give your name and address and vehicle registration number to the police or traffic officer, either at the scene of the accident or at a police station or traffic office when you report the accident. You must also show your driver's licence. If you are hurt and can not report the accident immediately, you must do it as soon as possible and explain why there has been a delay in reporting the accident. It is an offence not to report an accident in which another person's property has been damaged, or in which another person is injured, even if neither of the drivers intends taking legal action.

You must NOT drink any alcohol or take any drugs that have a narcotic effect unless it is on doctor's orders. If the police ask you to go for a medication examination, you must not drink any alcohol or take any drugs that have a narcotic effect before the examination and before you have reported the accident. If anyone is injured in the accident, the vehicles, or any evidence, may not be moved before the police or traffic officer have arrived and said that the vehicles can be moved. If the accident totally blocks the passage of other vehicles, the vehicle may be moved sufficiently to allow vehicles to pass, but only after you have clearly marked the vehicle positions (for example with chalk, crayon, spray paint, or a stone if nothing else is available).

Some of the possible legal consequences following an accident are: • • • • • a criminal charge of driving without a license a criminal charge of drunken driving a criminal charge of culpable homicide a civil claim for damage to property a civil claim for personal injury.

When the police are at the scene, they will (unless they tell you otherwise) complete an accident report, which is filed either with the SAPS, the local municipality or the provincial Department of Transport and Public Works, depending on whether a criminal case has been opened and whether the accident occurred inside the area of the local authority. All accident reports for accidents outside municipal areas, where there is no criminal case being investigated, are kept with the Department. Regardless of the type of accident, once the accident has been reported, you should be given, or can ask for an accident report number (AR). However if a criminal case has been opened such as Culpable homicide or Drunken Driving, you may be given a CAS number. Both these numbers will be a number, followed by the month and year, for example AR 123 / 11 / 2006 or CAS 321 / 11 / 2006, including the name of the station to which that number is associated. If you want to read the laws relating to the road, vehicles and accidents, visit, go to the Links page, Government sites, follow the link to acts, or any of the other related sites. Please feel free to contact us from the Contact Page should you require any further advice or assistance. Safe driving

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