February 8, 2021
Accidents are never expected but with over 100,000 reported incidents each year on UK roads it’s wise to know what you need to do if you are involved in one.
We know that no matter the size or seriousness of the incident you will experience a spike in adrenaline and possibly enter a state of shock. It’s important to try and remain calm, even if you don’t feel it.
We’ve outlined the important steps to take if you are involved in an accident in the UK below to help you know what to do if you are involved in one, and there’s also a checklist that you can download and print to keep in your vehicle.
Immediately After an Accident
As soon as you are involved in an accident there are a few steps you’ll need to take before doing anything else.
The first is to stop the car in a safe location if it has not already stopped. You are legally required to stop after any road traffic accident, even if it is only your vehicle that is involved, and failure to do so could result in hefty penalties including up to 10 points on your driving licence.
Once you have stopped the vehicle you should turn off your ignition to reduce the risk of any further damage.
You should also turn on your hazard lights to notify other road users of your vehicle.
The next thing to do is to check yourself, and if you have any, your passengers for injuries. If no one is seriously injured and it is safe for you to do so leave the vehicle and go to a safe location.
If anyone is injured you should call 999 for an ambulance.
There are some injuries, like concussion or whiplash, that are not always visible or obvious at first and you should keep an eye out for them following an accident. If you start to feel unwell or are concerned about any symptoms following an accident always seek medical help.
Some drivers like to keep an emergency kit in the car which includes a high-visibility jacket and a warning triangle. If you have one of these and are able to access it, we recommend putting on the high-vis jacket to make yourself more obvious to passing motorists, even if you are in a safe location.
Should your car be blocking the road then you might also want to put out the warning triangle around ten feet from the vehicle to warn oncoming motorists.
Informing the Police of an Accident
The police need to be notified of any road accident within 24 hours of it occurring. This is even if there are no other vehicles involved.
There are two phone numbers that you can use to notify the police of an accident, 999 and 101.
You should call 999 if:
- Someone is seriously injured
- The road is blocked
- Any vehicle who was involved or their driver leaves the scene
- You suspect any drivers are under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Any of the drivers involved don’t have insurance
- You suspect the accident was intentionally caused
If you do not need immediate assistance at the scene then you can call the police on 101 to advise them of the accident.
When the police attend the scene of an accident they will take your details as well those of any other drivers, witnesses and for the owner of any damaged property. If you were driving at the time of the accident then they will ask you to complete a breathalyser test and possibly other tests depending on the accident and its cause.
The police will file a report on the accident and you might need the details of to provide to your insurance provider.
Exchanging Details at the Scene
If there is anyone else involved in the accident then you will need to exchange details with them. This is whether they are another driver, pedestrian, cyclist or the owner of damaged property.
You will need to provide:
- Your full name
- Your contact number
- Your full address
- Your vehicle registration, make and model
- Your insurance details
You are legally required to provide your details when involved in an accident.
These are the same details that you will need to take from any other driver involved as well.
If you do hit any property, like a fence, or a parked car and the owner is not present then you should leave your details on a note for them to contact you when they return.
Making a Record of the Scene
If you are able to you should always take photographs of any accident you are involved in so you have a visual record as well as the notes you take.
Most phones now have a camera in them but if you are concerned about not being able to take any photographs then it might be worth looking at getting a disposable camera to keep in the vehicle and use in the event of an accident.
You should take photographs of:
- The scene as a whole, including road markings where possible
- Any damage to your vehicle
- Any damage to other vehicles
- Any damage to road furnishings or property
- Any injuries if possible
It is becoming more common for drivers to have a dashcam fitted in their vehicle which videos the road ahead of you and can be useful in the case of an accident. You can pick these up relatively cheaply from Halfords, Amazon or similar providers.
If you have a fleet of vehicles and are interested in sourcing and fitting dashcams or other telematics systems that could help in the case of an accident then please get in touch with us on 01722 322 888.
As well as taking photographs you should also take some notes of the scene as well if you are able to.
It’s useful to get a record of:
- Any other vehicles involved, their registration number, make and model, and colour
- The time and date of the accident
- The weather conditions
- The road conditions
- Visibility or any other factors that could have influenced your driving
- A list of damage to any vehicles, including your own, and property
- A description of any injuries to those involved
- The position of any vehicles, including your own, involved
- A brief description of the incident
- The contact details for any witnesses
Gathering this information will help you inform any third parties you need to notify of the accident and will help your insurance company decide who is at fault.
Moving the Vehicle
If it is safe to do so, once you have exchanged details with anyone else at the scene and taken the necessary photographs and notes, you should move the vehicle to a safe location, where it is not blocking the road.
Depending on the severity of the accident your vehicle might be okay to drive away from the scene but if it is not then you might just need to pull it into a layby or onto a verge until you are able to get roadside assistance.
If you are not able to move the vehicle or it is unsafe to do so you should put on your hazards, and if you have one put out a warning triangle as advised above.
The police will usually use cones and tape to block off the scene and will divert and direct traffic if necessary. You should always notify the police immediately if any vehicle is blocking the road as they can safely divert or direct traffic to avoid further accidents.
If you are unable to move the vehicle and it is safe to do so you can remove your personal belongings from the car. We recommend doing this if it is safe for you to do so and you have to leave the vehicle as it reduces the risk of them being stolen if you have to leave the scene, and if the vehicle requires lengthy repairs or is written off then it you will not have to arrange to collect them at a later date.
If you have breakdown cover then you should notify your provider as soon as you know that you will not be able to move the vehicle and they will be able to retrieve it and take it to a nearby garage. You might have breakdown cover as part of your insurance and if so you should contact your provider and they will be able to direct you to the correct team.
What You Shouldn’t Do in an Accident
You should never leave the scene of an accident without stopping, no matter how minor it is. As mentioned above, this is a criminal offence and can result in serious penalties against you.
Try not to get angry or lose your temper with anyone else involved, even if you feel as if the accident is their fault as this will just make the situation worse. It’s important to remain calm so you can gather the necessary information.
You should not admit responsibility for the accident, even if you were at fault, as this might be used against you at a later date. Who is at fault will be decided by the insurance companies if a claim is made and if you admit responsibility at the scene then this could be factored into their decision. You should also avoid apologising for the same reason, as this could be seen as an admission of responsibility later in the process.
Notifying Your Insurer
If you are looking to make a claim on your insurance for repairs then you should notify your insurer as soon as you are able to.
You will need to provide them with the details of the accident, as well as any other parties involved and any witness details you were able to gather at the scene.
The length of time it takes for a claim to process will depend on a number of factors but your insurance provider will look to settle this as quickly as possible for you.
You do not have to make a claim on your insurance, and if the damage is minimal many drivers choose to protect their no claims discount and cover the cost of any repairs themselves.
Even if you do not want to make a claim you should still notify your insurance provider in case anyone else involved in the accident tries to make a claim against your policy.
If your vehicle is a company car and insured through a fleet policy then you should speak to your fleet manager before notifying the insurer as your business’ process may be slightly different.
Notifying Your Fleet Manager
If your vehicle is a company car and in the business name then you will need to let your fleet manager know of any accident you are involved in. This may be someone within your business or an external contact, for example if the policy is managed by a third party like Wessex Fleet.
We recommend that you keep the contact details for your fleet management contact in the vehicle or on your phone so that you are easily able to reach them even if it is outside of office hours.
Notifying Your Lease Company
If you are leasing a vehicle then as well as the above steps you should also notify the lease funder.
If your lease was arranged by Wessex Fleet then you can give us a call on 01722 322 888 and we can confirm the correct contact details for you to get in touch with your provider or notify them for you.
As the vehicle will still be insured by you, or your business, you should still contact your insurance provider in order to notify them of the incident make a claim.
We know that when you’re involved in an accident you often have a spike in adrenaline or enter a slight state of shock, even if it’s just a prang. With this in mind we’ve put together a checklist which you can print off and keep in your vehicle to make sure you get the necessary details at the scene and contact everyone you need to let know.
We mentioned above about an emergency kit, which is sometimes known as a driver pack or accident pack. We recommend that if your car does not come with one of these that you purchase one separately to keep in the vehicle in the case of an accident.
It is not a legal requirement to have one in the UK but is in some European countries and so if you plan to travel with your vehicle then you should check the requirements in the country you plan to travel to.
If you have a fleet management policy through Wessex Fleet or want to know more about driver packs for your business vehicles please give us a call on 01722 322 888.