Sometimes in spite of all your efforts to avoid a collision, you may find yourself involved in one. All drivers involved in a collision have certain duties and responsibilities. The law provides stiff penalties for failure to satisfy these requirements.
After any motor vehicle collision involving death, injury or property damage where the damage to ALL property apparently exceeds $2,000 you must report the collision to the police immediately.
Five points to remember when reporting collisions:
- The exact location of the collision
- The time of the collision
- The nature of damage to cars or other property
- The nature and extent of injuries to all people involved in the collision
- The names and addresses of the drivers and owners, their driver's licenses, vehicle registration numbers and insurance details. It is also advisable to obtain the names and addresses of any people who witnessed the collision.
If you are the first to arrive at a serious collision:
Your first instinct may be to run to the car involved and start pulling people out. Unfortunately, the efforts of the rescuers often aggravate the injuries caused by the collision.
Here is what you should do when you encounter a collision between two other vehicles:
- Park your car off the road far enough away from the collision scene to protect the vehicles from further collisions with other cars. If a cell phone is available, call 911 or send someone to call 911. When you get to the cars involved, turn off the ignitions to prevent fire.
- If the occupants of the vehicle are hurt, leave them in the car until trained help arrives. If someone is pinned in the car, but otherwise free from injury, crawl in the car and try to release the injured person. If a driver is trapped by the steering wheel, the pressure can be eased by releasing the seat catch and pulling the seat back.
- In case of fire, try to put it out with a fire extinguisher, dirt or a blanket. Most fires start when the electrical wiring is short-circuited. If you know how, try to disconnect the battery, but be careful not to touch metal parts with the "hot wire," which could cause a spark.
- If you have been trained in first aid, you may give the injured people some assistance. If not, follow these tips:
- Cover the injured people with blankets or coats to keep them warm
- Loosen collars, ties and belts to help the injured people to breathe
- Calm and reassure the injured people and tell them help is on the way, and
- Keep spectators away from the injured people
Reporting an emergency using your cell phone:
- As soon as you contact 911, give them your name and cell phone number including the area code so that if the connection is broken, they can call you back.
- The location is essential. If the emergency is in an area that you are not familiar with, try to describe the area as accurately as possible. Concentrate on nearby civic numbers, if there are any, or the street name.
- You may have to walk or drive to the nearest intersection to look at the road sign, or the community name. If need be, and if at all possible, tell the call-taker that you will meet the emergency vehicle at the nearest intersection and guide them to the emergency.