First on the scene of a car accident? Here’s what you need to do


Jade Poole from I Write Words


It can be somewhat scary and overwhelming to be the first on the scene of a crash, that’s why we have put together this article to help you handle the situation and possibly save lives

Vehicle accidents occur every day on South African roads, from bumper bashings to the more serious ones where people might be injured. As a driver on our roads, odds are you are likely to have come across an accident scene once or twice before.

Which is why it is important to know what you need to do if you are the first to arrive at the scene. Knowing these steps will help to lessen the potential trauma and risk that is involved and even save lives.

The most important thing to keep in mind is to make sure of is that your safety is never at risk.

What to do when you are the first to arrive at the scene of the accident

When you first witness an accident scene, it can be incredibly scary and there might be a whole lot of thoughts running through your mind.

The trick is to keep calm, don’t panic and take a deep breath. You got this.

1. Pull your car over

The first thing to do is to pull your car over. Try to park as far off the road as you can and turn on your headlights and hazards.

2. Place your emergency triangle

Secondly, you need to place your emergency triangle, which you should have in your emergency kit bag in your car (if you are not sure what to put in this bag or don’t have one, then read this blog).

The triangle should be placed 45 metres behind the damaged vehicle or vehicles and it should be facing oncoming traffic.

3. Phone for help

This is the most important step and should be done quickly and calmy - phone emergency services for help.

You will need to give them your phone number, location and the details of the accident - how many people are injured and whether there is a fire.

If you can, take note of the nearest route marker such as an intersection, landmark or anything that could help the emergency services find the scene faster.

4. Offer to help those involved in the accident

Once you have phoned for help and secured the scene, you can now establish if anyone involved needs your help.

Here are some things to keep in mind and stick to when doing this:

  1. Ensure that all the drivers and passengers of the car or cars have been accounted for. Try to keep any children or adults who are panicking as calm as you can - inform them that help is on the way and everything is going to be okay.
  2. Do not try to remove someone with injuries from a vehicle unless there is a fire threatening their life.
  3. If a person is unconscious, then check if they are breathing or if there is anything obstructing their airways. If the victim is not breathing, then you should perform CPR. Click here to find out how to do this. Only perform CPR if you have been trained to do so correctly.
  4. If the person is still breathing, then leave them where they are and keep an eye on them.
  5. If someone is bleeding heavily, then you can use any material you find to place over the sound and apply constant pressure until help arrives. Ensure you have medical gloves on which can be found in your car emergency kit.

5. Get information from the people involved

If a person is conscious, then try to get as much info as you can from them such as their name, age and any medical conditions such as allergies to tell emergency services when they arrive.

Getting this information from someone might help you to determine whether he or she has a head injury as this should be communicated with the paramedics.

What should I do if I drive past an accident scene?

This is a good question and something many drivers have asked.

Here are some guidelines to stick to:

  1. Obey the instructions given to you by the traffic officials or emergency services
  2. If need be, reduce your speed, but do so gradually
  3. Keep an eye on any emergency vehicles or personnel moving around the scene - do not become distracted by looking at the scene - keep your eyes on the road and keep moving forward
  4. Do not get out of your car unless you have been instructed to do so

We hope this helpful guideline can be of service if you are ever the first to arrive at the scene of an accident.

Stay safe out there,

Yours in uncomplicated car insurance,


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