Car accidents can be scary, even if you’re not one of the people in the crash. If you witness a car accident, your first instinct might be to get out of the area so you don’t have to worry about anyone thinking you had something to do with the incident. However, this is the wrong course of action.
But what should you do when you witness an accident? Here are a few tips from law enforcement and traffic safety experts.
The worst thing you can do after a crash is to start panicking. This is especially true if some of the parties in the accident are injured.
Remain calm and pull your vehicle off the road at least 100 feet from the accident. Turn on your hazard lights to indicate the danger to other drivers and make sure you don’t open your car door when traffic is trying to get around you.
When you get out of the vehicle, stay far from the road and keep your distance from the accident. People often rubberneck to see accidents, and someone who is rubbernecking could strike you or your vehicle if you’re close to the road. Likewise, give the parties from the crash some space – getting close to them will only serve to make them more anxious.
Immediately call the authorities when you witness a car accident. Don’t just assume someone else has already contacted the police – if everyone assumes that, no one will contact them.
In a worst-case scenario, even if you aren’t the first person to tell the police about the accident, the dispatcher will calmly inform you that someone else already reported the incident.
While you’re talking to the dispatcher, tell them if it looks like anyone from the accident is hurt. If you notice that people are injured, it’s vital that the dispatcher inform the first responders before they arrive on the scene.
Wait for the police to arrive so you can give them an official statement. Be honest about what happened and remain consistent. Take photographs of the incident to show the police so you can prove that you’ve kept an accurate account.
You might need to give them your name and phone number so the authorities and insurance companies can contact you. By sticking around and telling the truth, you’ll help the victims of the crash resolve their claims with the insurance company that much more easily.