Imagine yourself driving along a highway, listening to the radio, and enjoying a peaceful car ride back from work. Suddenly, many things happen at once – you hear sounds of tires screeching on the road, horns blaring, and people shouting. Then you notice a speeding vehicle skid past you, losing control and smashing into the roadsides barrier. There is broken glass everywhere and smoke coming out of the hood – it’s a horrible scene to witness.
Witnessing a car crash first-hand can make you experience multiple emotions at once and spike your adrenaline level. However, you need to think and act quickly about your course of action. It’s important to remain calm and collected so you can inform the emergency roadside assistance services (police, fire dept, and ambulance) about the situation.
This blog contains some general guidelines you need to keep in mind if you ever find yourself in such an unfortunate situation.
Ensure Your Safety First
The first thing to do when you witness a crash is to keep yourself and your passengers safe. Pullover to a safe area off the road and maintain a safe distance from the crash site. Turn on your hazard lights and make sure it’s clear for you to exit your vehicle. Do not stop or get out of your car in the middle of the road, especially if the accident occurred on a busy highway.
When pulling over, try to leave some distance for emergency vehicles to access the site. If you notice fuel leaking, flames, or smoke coming out of the car involved in the crash, you need to move away. Keep a minimum distance of at least 100 feet from the vehicle, and be sure to inform the emergency services about the smoke.
Contact Emergency Services
Once you have safely pulled over to the side of the road and there’s no imminent danger, call 911 immediately and report the accident. Don’t assume that someone else might have contacted the emergency responders already. Tell the 911 dispatcher about the accident and wait for them to tell you what to do.
They might ask you about the incident, your location, the number of cars and people involved in the accident, and their condition. Be sure to remember any pertinent details as it may help them access the site quickly and provide medical assistance to the victims.
If you don’t have a cell phone with you, ask other bystanders or an employee of the nearest business to call the police.
Check On The Victims
If the 911 responder asks for details about the accident, then you might have to walk over to the crashed car. Ensure that there is no immediate threat such as fire or fast-moving traffic before proceeding. Assess the damage and check if any of the vehicle’s occupants have sustained serious injuries. If so be sure to inform the dispatcher about the number of injured people.
If you are a medical professional such as a trained nurse, physician, or EMT, then you may offer help to the victims. Do not attempt to move the victim or offer help if you don’t have any medical knowledge. It might do more damage than good. However, in extreme cases, such as to stop heavy bleeding, you may provide first aid without the risk of legal liabilities.
Remain On Scene
If you are a firsthand witness to a car accident, the police will probably ask you to give a statement. In a case where there are multiple vehicles involved in an accident, your testimony will help the police paint a clearer picture of the suspect. Do not try to blame anyone and stay away from any confrontation between the two drivers. To keep an unbiased record of the scene, try to take some photos of the involved vehicles’ license plates.
Keep in mind that you might have to give your contact details to the police if the case goes to court or if there are any follow-up questions. Be factual, honest, and consistent in giving your statement.
Witnessing a traffic accident can be a very traumatizing experience for anyone, especially if there are fatalities involved.
Follow the guidelines mentioned above to ensure a calm and quick response in case of an accident. Your next step can help save lives and deliver justice to the victims and their families.
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