An accident on the road can be scary to watch, especially if you’re unsure whether anyone is hurt. While it can be an overwhelming time, some significant actions must be taken to make sure that no further harm is done. Here’s what you need to do after witnessing an accident.
Get Out of the Way
Damaged cars may be leaking fluids or gasoline. There could be glass or sharp plastic or metal around the area. Chances are, you are also in an area where there is other traffic passing by. If you can, get your vehicle out of the middle of the road and into a safe area without actually leaving the scene of the accident. Taking yourself out of harm’s way is the first step after an accident.
Assuming that someone else will dial 911 will only lead to no one calling 911. Call them, and provide them with all the details of the accident. Include your name, the number of cars involved, where it happened, and if anyone is visibly hurt. Depending on the severity of the accident, they may want to keep you on the line until first responders arrive. If not, leave your cell phone on anyways so that they can contact you if they need to.
Check on the Victims
No matter how minor the accident, there could still be someone who is hurt. Once you’ve checked to make sure you are not injured, calmly address the others affected. Check to see if there are any children or infants in the cars.
If the driver(s) of the vehicle is able, ask them to put their car in park and turn off the ignition.
Unless the victims are in the direct path of harm, do not move them. You should never attempt to mobilize someone who may be injured. Instead, keep talking to them and help keep them calm until first responders arrive.
Talk to the Police
Once the police arrive, you need to identify yourself as a witness. Let them know exactly what you saw: be honest and fair only telling them what you saw without adding any of your judgment to it. You’ll be asked for your name and contact information during this part.
Once first responders have collected some necessary information from you, they will allow you to leave the scene. This does not necessarily mean that your responsibilities are over. You may be contacted later for a statement regarding what you saw. You may be contacted by insurance companies, medical personnel or police officers. Always be completely honest with what you remember.
Even though witnessing a car accident can be a frightening experience, do your best to stay calm. As a witness, you have an important job to do. Be sure to get yourself out of harm’s way, do your best to keep the victims calm and report to the authorities precisely what you saw.