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Whether you’re involved in a bumper bashing or a more serious crash; whether you’re a driver, passenger or even an onlooker, a road accident is an upsetting situation in which to find yourself. As soon as you are over the initial shock, what do you do?

Here’s our guide to what to do after an accident:

1. Stop your car and stay at the scene

Firstly, stop your vehicle and, in the interest of road safety, switch on your hazards to warn other drivers. Climb out of your car if it is safe to do so and check if anyone has been hurt. If possible, move any cars that are disrupting traffic – but make sure you document their position on the road first, either by photographing the scene or marking the road with chalk or spray paint (if on-hand). If you can, take pictures of the damage to all the vehicles involved in the incident. If a vehicle cannot be moved, then you need to call a towing service. As a valued AA Member, you can do so through our emergency call centre or via our app.

If commuters or pedestrians have been injured, or if property has been damaged, it is road law in South Africa to remain at the scene of an accident until the police have arrived.

2. Help anyone who has been hurt

While you can only be criminally charged for causing the accident and any resulting injuries, as a bystander you have a moral obligation to help someone who has been hurt in a road accident. Help includes contacting an ambulance or rescue unit, even if the injuries do not appear to be serious. It’s critical that you don’t move the injured party, and that you do not administer first aid unless you are qualified to do so.

For valued Members, the AA South Africa provides 24-hour emergency medical rescue – a must in those critical moments after a road accident when speed and quality of service make all the difference.

3. Get the details

Record the information of everyone involved in the road accident, including personal details, vehicle registration numbers, tow-truck information and insurance details. Take note of all road names, landmarks, intersections and robots, as you will have to draw a sketch and description of the accident on your police report, and for insurance purposes.

Ensure that you get the following information from the other party:

Full names (first and middle names and initials and surnames)
ID number
Car registration number
Address
Cellphone number and other telephone contact details (work and home)
Insurance company details
Make, model and colour of the other vehicle
Date and time of the crash
Details of any eyewitnesses.

4. Report the accident

Inform the police within 24 hours of the road accident. If the police come to the scene, don’t move anything until they say you may. Ensure that you get an Accident Report (AR) number, as this is needed for any insurance claim or third party claim you may lodge.

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