What to do in the event of a car accident in the UK

If you’re involved in a car accident, find out how to stay safe, what documentation you might need and the correct steps to take.

No one wants to be involved in a car accident but sometimes even the safest driver can be involved in a crash through no fault of their own. While driving has never been safer, according to the Department for Transport, there were 117,536 accidents in Great Britain in 2019 – 23,422 of these were serious and 1,658 were fatal. It goes without saying that if you do find yourself in this situation, it pays to know the correct steps to take.

Always be prepared

Although it’s the last thing you want to happen, there are some steps you should take to prepare, just in case you’re involved in a car accident. Many cars now come with dash cams as standard, which record video footage of your journey on a hard drive. Even if your car doesn’t have one, they can be purchased and fitted relatively cheaply. Footage from dash cams can often be used when deciding insurance claims.

It’s also important to make sure that your phone is charged before you set off, as you never know when you might need to make an emergency call or take photographs at the scene as evidence for your insurance company. If you don’t want to rely on technology, then it may be useful to keep a pad and pen in your glovebox, so that you can write down details with anyone else involved in the accident.

You should also make sure that you know insurance details, including your insurance company and policy number, so that you can share this if you need to. If you have breakdown cover, it is useful to know if they will recover your vehicle in the event of an accident.

If you have hired your car from Arnold Clark Car & Van Rental, you’ll have all the contact details you need on your key fob and within your documentation.

What to do in the immediate aftermath of an accident

No matter how small, if you have been in a car accident, you must pull over as soon as it is safe to do so and turn on your hazard warning lights. Firstly, make sure that nobody is injured and that the scene of the accident is safe. If you are free of injury, then you should then leave your car and stand in a safe place. If you are on a motorway, you should wait on the grass verge near the hard shoulder – it is dangerous to remain in a parked car at the side of a road. However, if someone is injured or inaccessible, you should not attempt to remove them from the vehicle

When should you call the emergency services?

If anyone is seriously injured, you should call for an ambulance straight away. You should call the police if the accident causes a hazard to other road users or if someone leaves the scene of a crime without sharing their details. You can contact the emergency services using the UK emergency number 999. Dialling 112 on mobile devices will also connect you to the emergency call centre.

What details should you exchange and what information should you gather?

Firstly, make a note of the time and date of the accident as well as the conditions of the road, including the weather. You will need to answer questions about these to make an insurance claim.

You should provide your name, contact number, address, car registration number and your insurance company and policy number to everyone involved in the accident and you should get these from the drivers of the other vehicles directly involved. A refusal to provide insurance details is a criminal offence under the Road Traffic Act 1988. If they refuse to share details, then you should contact the police. You should also make a note of the make, model and colour of the vehicles involved. If there are any witnesses, you should also get their details. If there are any CCTV cameras in the area, make a note of them too.

While this can be a stressful situation, it’s very important to remain calm. You should neither admit any liability or apportion any blame at the time of the accident as you’re unlikely to have a full picture of how events transpired.

If it is safe to do so, you should take photographs of the scene as these may be useful to the insurance company. If you are not able to take pictures, make a note of the damage to the vehicles. Find out if anyone is injured and make a note of this so you know if an accident claim is made following the accident.

What if no one else was involved?

Even if no one else was involved in an accident, and you have caused damage to another car, you should still leave your details and contact your insurance company. There may be witnesses or CCTV and if you do not leave your details, there could be serious consequences.

Who recovers a car following an accident?

If you have any doubts over the safety of your vehicle, you should not drive it. If you have fully comprehensive insurance, then they will cover the cost of recovery and may be able to advise on a preferred service. If you are covered by a recovery service, then they should recover your vehicle. Your vehicle will likely require repairs so it’s important to find out the preferred location from your insurance company to take your vehicle and have it repaired, otherwise you may be liable for additional charges. If you do not arrange for your vehicle to be recovered, the police will move it and there will be a cost.

Of course, with a rental car from Arnold Clark Car & Van Rental, we’re just one call away. We’ll be there to take care of everything.

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