What to do if you are involved in an accident

Vehicle numbers on our roads are about to increase significantly as people travel to the coast, or inland, to enjoy a well deserved vacation. But of course, driving in heavy traffic presents its own set of challenges so it is best to be prepared for all or most eventualities.

Other than being hi-jacked, being involved in an accident, is probably the most feared possibility in one’s mind when you venture out on South African roads.

How does one prepare or respond should one be involved in an accident?

“You need to do everything possible to ensure your own safety and that of any passengers,” says Uvashen Bramiah, national director of the South African Motor Body Repairers Association (SAMBRA), a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI).

The best and often the most difficult to do is to stay calm.

Bramiah offers the following tips to help you manage the situation as best as possible:

• Stop the car and put on your vehicle hazard lights.
• Immediately check for any injuries.
• Safely take photos of the incident which can be sent to your insurer.
• Secure the scene
• If possible, you must now pull your vehicle well off the road.
• Turn on the headlights and hazard lights.
• Place your emergency triangle 45 metres behind the accident vehicle/s, facing traffic approaching from behind. You can also ask someone to stand at least 50m away from the scene to alert oncoming traffic, but always ensure it is safe to do so. You should not do this on a highway, for example.
• Phone emergency services (which should be on speed dial on your cell phone). Be prepared to think clearly and give them all the details they need so that the most appropriate and nearest emergency personnel are dispatched. Offer the dispatcher the nearest landmark, intersection, or route marker to enable help to get there as quickly as possible.
• If you or anyone in the car is injured, get your first-aid kit out of your car and put on latex gloves to attend to any injuries.
• If they are able to speak, ask how injured they believe they are.
• Start CPR, if you are trained to do so, if necessary on any passengers who are not breathing.
• If someone is bleeding heavily use bandages in your first-aid kit or other materials from your car, like a towel or jacket, to place over the wound and apply direct pressure until help arrives.
• If there is another car involved exchange full details.
• Never accept liability
• If a tow truck arrives on the scene, refuse their help unless they are accredited by your insurance company.
• If you have an internet connection, you can go to the SAMBRA website and search for your closest motor body repairer.

SAMBRA also advises to always carry the AA’s list of emergency items in your car.

1. First-aid kit
2. Fire extinguisher
3. Emergency triangle
4. Reflective jacket
5. Jumper cables
6. Tow rope
7. Tyre sealant
8. Multi-tool
9. Duct tape
10. Flashlight
11. Cell phone charger
12. Pen and paper
13. Plastic poncho
14. Paper towels or wet wipes
15. Space blanket
16. Drinking water
17. Snacks
18. Road maps
19. Cash
20. Emergency documents

Needless to say though, is should you fail to comply with the aforementioned when involved in an accident, you may face serious criminal charges or even civil lawsuits and well, that would not be a good start to your holiday or the new year.

Source: Cathy Findley PR.

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