Any driver who fails to stop after a serious accident may be prosecuted and, if convicted, face nine years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to R36 000.

Panicked, traumatised and possibly injured, once a person has been involved in an accident they will be left shaken and confused and perhaps have no idea how to react to the situation.

Knowing how to correctly respond in the event of an accident could spell the difference between life and death for whoever has been involved, especially yourself and according to KwaZulu-Natal Emergency Medical Services spokesperson Rob McKenzie, people don’t immediately realise that the consequences of an accident can have legal repercussions.

“As always, prevention is better than cure. We know that the three main causes of an accident are speeding, following too closely and drinking and driving. Ensure that you are acting responsibly on the road,” McKenzie pleads.

Speeding, McKenzie says, impacts a driver’s ability to not only respond in time to another driver’s movement, but also slow down and stop before an accident scene. This is more difficult when a driver has been drinking.

If you happen to come across an accident scene and have already reported it to emergency services you may obviously feel the need to help.

If you are able to provide first aid, McKenzie says that you should check and see who has been injured. Keep in mind that all accident scenes are dangerous, especially on national roads and first-responders should always display hazard signs.

“If people are able to, we ask that they carry gloves, gauze and basic medical equipment such as bandages – nothing too fancy. You don’t need to be medically trained to know to apply a bandage to a bleeding wound,” said McKenzie.

Most importantly, McKenzie warns that people should not remove injured people from a wreck unless there is an immediate danger, such as the vehicle being on fire.

“Paramedics are trained to detect neck or back injuries and any movement could further injure and even paralyse someone,” McKenzie says.

The greatest challenge, he says, is to properly identify critically injured patients when time is of the essence. He urges people to carry some form of identification and medical aid details at all times.

Speaking to the legal aspects, Arrive Alive explains that the you should never leave the scene of an accident when you are involved, unless it is to seek assistance, or the police have permitted you to.

Any driver who fails to stop after a serious accident may be prosecuted and, if convicted, face nine years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to R36 000.

You are also legally obliged to contact the police when you are aware of a serious injury or death at an accident scene. The same is required by law when you suspect someone to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Drivers involved in accidents are warned to not consume any intoxicating substance after an accident unless it is medically required and administered by a medical practitioner.

The useful website Crash Guys International provides a short checklist for what you should photograph with your cell phone, immediately after an accident:

– The positions of vehicles, from far enough away to show how and where they came to rest, relative to the roadway and any substantial features in the immediate area.

– The general scene, including all vehicles and elements if possible, from all available elevated positions, structures or higher vehicles, preferably showing the whole scene.

– The four sides and four corners of each vehicle and/or trailer, individually, from far enough away to show the whole side or the two sides forming a corner.

– The damages to each vehicle or trailer, from at least three angles and a higher angle, from far enough to show the vehicle clearly and from close enough to show the damages properly, if possible.

– The licence disks and/or licence plates, signage, branding and the make and model of each vehicle and all trailers involved.

– The vehicle/s of attending services (law enforcement unit/s, ambulances and/or fire services, towing and recovery units) and any other services and private vehicles present.

– Any road surface evidence, like scratch marks, gouges, deposits and fluid spills, tyre marks, debris or any other relevant visible evidence from multiple sides – at the beginning, end and along the length – and in relation to the scene as a whole.

– Any obstructions, road closures, road works, road markings, signs, mile markers, unique features or traffic or pedestrians, at the scene – from multiple angles.

– Driving licenses, ID Documents, Passports or other identification or business cards of all involved drivers, passengers, witnesses or involved parties, as far as possible.

– Contamination of evidence like vehicles being opened by Jaws of Life moved or lifted to free entrapped occupant’s, photograph this happening but only if possible and from far enough away not to show faces of victims.

This list is inclusive of the minimum evidence that would best serve the most basic requirements to be of benefit in any insurance claim, dispute or trial.

Should you need to contact an ambulance, 10177; police, 10111; or for any emergency from your cell phone, dial 112.

Credit to North Coast Courier.

CRA cares about the wellbeing of all road users and believe you should take precautions and be prepared in case something unexpected happens. To do this, we created the ICE ContactListand Accident Assist Checklist as FREE tools to assist you and your family in times of crisis. Click here to download your free copy now!