Road Traffic Accidents - What to Do and How To Cope
If ever you are unlucky enough to be involved a traffic accident then you will be legally obliged to follow certain procedures.
If the accident causes damage or injury to any other person, vehicle, animal or property then you must:
- Stop and remain at the scene of the accident for a reasonable amount of time.
- Provide your name address and registration details to any person who has reasonable grounds for asking for them. If the vehicle you were driving is the property of another person, then you must provide their details too.
- If these details can't be given at the scene, then you must report the accident at a police station or to a police officer as soon as is practicable possible and within 24 hours.
- If another person is injured you are obliged to produce your car insurance certificate at the scene of the accident to anyone who has reasonable grounds to view it. If you are unable to produce your car insurance certificate at the scene of the accident then you must take it to the police station you reported the accident to within seven days.
You must abide by these requirements even if you were not directly involved in the accident. Fail to do so and you will be committing two criminal offences - failing to stop and failing to report. Sentencing guidelines state if you are convicted of either you can face a fine of up to £5000, have five and to penalty points placed on your driving licence and be banned from driving.
Insurance IssuesIn order to have a smooth insurance claim it is vital that you record as much detailed info as is possible. Insurance claims can be tricky, long winded affairs especially if no one takes overall responsibility for the accident. Remember your no claims bonus could be on the line. Take photos of the scene using your mobile phone or camera. If you do not have access to a camera then try and make a sketch of the scene.
It is important that you try and gather as much information as you can. If you're able to take some photos of the accident then do so. At the very least try and draw a sketch of the accident scene. You must also obtain:
- The name, address and telephone number of anyone else involved. If someone not at the scene owns any vehicle then get his or her details also.
- The make, model and registration number of any vehicle involved.
- Details of the other driver's insurance policy - insurance company, whether third party of fully comprehensive, expiry date.
- The contact details of any witnesses.
- Details of the weather and road conditions.
- What the involved vehicles were doing as the accident happened.
Offering Assistance At The Scene Of An AccidentIf ever you find yourself at the scene of a road accident then follow the golden rule - never put yourself at unnecessary risk. However, if you can safely offer assistance then this is what you should do.
- Switch on your hazard warning lights.
- If possible place a warning triangle on the road at least 45 metres behind the scene of the accident.
- If anyone requires medical attention be certain that someone has called an ambulance. If no one has, then make the call.
- Remove any non-injured people away from the scene.
- Don't move casualties trapped in vehicles unless they're in danger.
- Make sure all engines have been turned off.
- Make sure no one is smoking a cigarette.
Dangerous Goods Vehicles
If a dangerous goods vehicle is involved:
- Switch off your engine.
- Put any any cigarettes.
- Keep well away from the vehicle.
- Call 999 and give as much information as possible about the labels and markings on the vehicle.
- Do not use your mobile phone close to a vehicle carrying flammable loads.
- Beware of dangerous liquids, dust or vapours, even in tiny quantities they can pose a hazard to health.
First Aid At The Scene Of An Accident
The golden rules:
- You must only ever remove an injured person from a vehicle if it is absolutely necessary to do so.
- Only remove a motorcyclist's helmet if it is essential to clear their airways.
- Try and keep anyone who is injured as warm as you can.
- Offer reassurance to any injured person but don't give them anything to eat, drink or smoke.
- If a person is unconscious first check their breathing. Clear any obstruction to the airways and loosen tight clothing. If breathing doesn't restart give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. To do this, lift the chin and tilt the head backwards. Pinch the person's nostrils and blow into the mouth until you see the chest rise. Repeat every four seconds until the person can breathe without assistance or until an ambulance arrives.
- To stop heavy bleeding you should apply firm hand pressure over the open wound using some clean material.
- If a casualty has burns to the skin then douse the burns with cool liquid but do not remove anything sticking to the burns.
People who are unconscious should be given priority. To help you remember what to do, think DR ABC:
- D - Danger: will helping a casualty put you in danger?
- R - Response: try and get a response ny asking questions and gently shaking their shoulder.
- A - Airway: keep their airway clear and open.
- B - Breathing: normal breathing must be established. If the casualty isn't breathing normally:
- C - Compressions - compressions should be administered to maintain circulation.
Airway - place one hand on the forehead and two fingers under the chin and gently tilt the head back.
Breathing - with the airway open, check breathing by placing your cheek over the casualties mouth and nose, listen and feel for breath, and look to see if the chest rises. Do this for ten seconds.
Compressions - if you detect no breathing, place two hands in the centre of the chest and press down 4-5cms at a rate of 100 per minute. You may only need one hand for a child. Give 30 chest compressions.
Then tilt the head back gently, pinch the casualty's nostrils together and place your mouth over theirs. Give two breaths, each lasting 1 second. For a child use gentle breaths.
Continue with cycles of 30 chest compressions and 2 breaths until medical help arrives.
For Children under one year old the same procedure should be used, however:
- Use two fingers, not two hands, when delivering compressions.
- When delivering breaths, make a seal over the infant's mouth AND nose using your mouth, and breath VERY gently.
To watch a video showing you how to give mouth-to-mouth.
If a casualty is unconscious but breathing place them on their side in the recovery position, see image below.
Dealing With Bleeding
- Check for anything that may be in the wound, such as glass.
- Taking care not to pit pressure on any object in the wound, build up padding on either side of the object.
- If no object is in the wound, apply firm pressure over the wound to stop the flow of blood.
- Fasten a pad or bandage to the wound using the cleanest material available.
- If the limb isn't broken, raise it above the level of the heart to reduce blood flow.
Dealing With Shock
The effects of shock may not be obvious. However, look out for:
- Rapid pulse
- Pale grey skin
- Rapid shallow breathing.
To treat a person in shock:
- Don't give them anything to eat or drink
- Constantly reassure them
- Keep them warm and comfortable
- Talk firmly and quietly to anyone who is hysterical
- Don't move them unless necessary.
Douse the burn in cool liquid for at least ten minutes. Try and use clean and non-toxic liquid.
Never remove anything that is sticking to the burn.