What to do in an accident
Accidents can occur at any time on the road and you should be prepared so you know what to do if you or someone you see is involved in one. Traffic collisions are caused by human error or technical faults, so you can prevent them by driving carefully and maintaining your vehicle.
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Accidents and the Highway Code
It’s the sort of thing that you hope won’t happen to you but serious road accidents are a fact of life. 3,200 people are killed on the UK’s roads each year and many more are injured.
Many people are unsure what to do in an accident, despite the fact that the information is there in black and white in the Highway Code.
As the weather is cooling down and the road conditions are taking a turn for the worse here is a refresher to keep you safe on the roads.
What to do if you have an accident
The 8 points listed in the Highway Code are as follows:
- Turn on your hazard lights to warn approaching traffic of potential danger.
- Make sure other drivers switch off their engines and extinguish cigarettes for fire safety reasons.
- Call the emergency services yourself or get someone else to do so. Give full details of the location of the accident and any casualties. The operator will advise you on what to do before the services arrive.
- Make sure that any uninjured passengers move to safety, away from their own vehicle and passing traffic.
- Leave anyone with injuries where they are – you could do more harm than good – except if they are in danger from fire or explosion.
- Do not take off a motorcyclist’s helmet unless you have no option. Again you could cause serious injury.
- Give First Aid if needed.
- Wait until the emergency services arrive.
Common sense dictates that you should not put yourself in danger by helping. If you have to flag down traffic, do it from a pavement if possible. If you are driving and come across an accident, make sure that you park your car safely, turn off your engine and put on your hazard lights, using a hazard triangle as well if you have one.
The Highway Code’s directive to give First Aid if needed may cause problems for many of us, but even a basic knowledge could save a life. Half of all deaths from road traffic accidents happen before the emergency services arrive, many caused by a blocked airway. If your airway is blocked, you can die in less than four minutes and, sadly, the average response time for the emergency services is twice that.
The Red Cross offers the following advice for basic first aid to be administered at the scene of an accident:
- Check for a response by talking to the casualty and/or tapping them gently.
- Check the casualty’s airway – put your hand on their forehead and tilt their head back gently, lifting their chin with two fingers.
- Check to see whether they are breathing by observing their chest and listening or feeling for breath on your face.
- Stop any bleeding by pressing on the wound with a clean cloth and raising it.
- If you suspect the person is in shock keep them warm and loosen any restrictive clothing.
With regards to documentation, if someone is injured in an accident, the driver must produce their insurance certificate at that time. If you are the driver and you do not have it on your person, you must attend the nominated police station within 24 hours to report the accident. You then have 7 days in which to produce your insurance documents.
Carry a car safety kit
When you travel it is always good to be prepared by keeping a car safety kit in your car. You can often buy ready made car safety kits but you can also create your own car safety kit. All you need are a few essentials that will assist in an emergency situation. For example:
|A first aid kit in case you are involved in an accident or come across an accident in the road.||A reflective yellow jacket so you can be seen by other road users if your car breaks down.|
|A torch with spare batteries in case your car breaks down at night or in poor light.||A road map of the UK for if you get lost during your trip, don’t always rely on your phone or satellite navigation.|
|A bottle of anti-freeze to help defrost your windows in chilly weather and get you on the road quickly.||Some sweets for sustenance if you get caught in heavy traffic for a long time with no fuel. If you can also keep some fresh bottled water in your car.|
|A warning triangle to warn drivers of your presence if you break down on a corner or in an area where it may be difficult to see.||A blanket for warmth if you break down, are stuck in heavy traffic or are involved in a traffic collision.|
|An in car phone charger to ensure your phone is always charged. Luck will always have it that you run out of battery during an emergency.||A waterproof jacket, as when you break down or are involved in an accident you will have to stand away from your vehicle in the elements.|
|A small amount of money in change for tolls such as on the M6 and on the M4 suspension bridge into Wales.|
During snowy or icy weather you should also carry a spade, warm clothes and battery powered radio in your emergency kit. You can read more about driving in adverse weather on our Advanced Driving guide.
Where to buy your car safety kit
The majority of the items needed for your car safety kit can be bought at Halfords. Halfords have over 460 stores in the UK so you can pop in to find the items you need for your in car safety kit or visit them online at www.halfords.com.
Online you will find you can buy all of the items for your safety kit individually, or buy ready made safety kits which may save you money.