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What to do if you are involved in an accident

Carlton Boyce / 23 November 2015 ( 24 April 2018 )

Protect yourself with our guide to what to do if you are involved in a car accident or collision.

Smashed windscreen after an accident
You must inform your insurance company that you’ve been involved in a collision as soon as possible, even if you do not intend to make a claim

Even the best drivers can find themselves involved in an accident and it’s important to deal with the aftermath properly to avoid turning an emergency into something even worse. 

The right action, taken at the right time, can help minimise injury, clarify who was at fault, and get you back on the road with the minimum of fuss.

Here’s our guide to what to do if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident.

Don't become a victim of road rage

Make sure you are safe

Firstly, pull to a halt and stay calm. No situation has ever been improved by panicking. So sit tight for a few seconds after any collision and take a few deep breaths.

Now assess the situation: is it safe to get out of your car or would you be better off sitting tight and calling for help? Only you can make that call, but a few seconds spent thinking now might save your life.

If your car is stranded in the road and cannot be moved use your hazard warning lights to warn other road users of the obstruction.

Next steps

Now you’re safe, it’s time to start dealing with the aftermath

If it’s a minor accident, with no injuries and only minor damage, you can move your car to the side of the road – but only after you’ve taken a couple of photographs with your phone or camera. Try to include the cars' relative positions, along with shots of any damage.

You should exchange insurance details with all those involved, along with your name and contact details. Don’t be tempted to drive off without doing so. If you do, you will be committing an offence.

However, it is vital that you don’t offer an apology or otherwise admit liability, no matter how tempting it might be in the heat of the moment.

Try and get the names and addresses of any witnesses. Their testimony might be crucial later.

Draw a quick sketch map of the accident. Include the registration numbers of the cars involved and any damage caused to them, along with the number of passengers in each. A note of the lighting and weather conditions at the time will be helpful too.

A video camera for your car can cost as little as £20 and will provide independent evidence of fault in the event of an accident.

Find out more about dash cams

You must also stop if you hit a parked car, an animal, or damage anyone else’s property. 

If you cannot exchange details with any affected party at the scene, you must report it to the police within 24 hours. You must also call the police if anyone is injured or if any car is blocking the road and cannot be moved.

Don’t forget that you must inform your insurance company that you’ve been involved in a collision as soon as possible, even if you do not intend to make a claim. 

If you are unlucky enough to be caught in an accident, please call us on 0800 001 5424 to make a claim. Lines are open 24/7.

Avoid the 'crash for cash' scam

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If you enjoy Carlton's inimitable style of writing, you'll love his book How to Become a Motoring Journalist - available on the Saga Bookshop.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.