Witnessing a car accident for the first time can be scary, but staying calm and collected can be a huge help to the accident victims. We’ve compiled several tips for what to do when you do see an accident, so you can be prepared and help keep other road users safe until emergency services arrive.
Make sure you’re safe
Prior to taking any action, make sure yourself and the passengers in your vehicle are safe. Next, assess the situation and determine if it is safe to pull over. It’s important to note that in some cases pulling over when it is not safe to do so, can result in further damage like your own vehicle being hit. If you decide it is safe to pull over, you should ensure that your vehicle is at least 100 ft. from the accident scene and with its hazard lights turned on.
The first thing you should always do when you see an accident is call 911. When you call the police try to describe the accident in as much detail as possible, this will help emergency services gain a better understanding of what occurred on the roads when responding to the accident and during a potential investigation afterwards.
Although it is generally considered unsafe to pull over in an accident, if you can pull over safely, there’s a chance you could help save a life, even if you don’t have medical or first-aid training, according to the Toronto Paramedic Services. If you do choose to check on the victims and offer assistance, make sure that you do not move the victims unless instructed to do so by emergency services.
Hand over evidence to the police
If you happen to have filmed the incident or caught scenes from it on your dashcam, hand over all evidence you may have to the police. This can be a key factor in determining the cause of the accident and help keep roads safe in the future.
Don’t post accident scenes on social media
The Ontario Provincial Police released a statement last summer urging people to think before they post videos or pictures from accident scenes on social media. It is important to remember that by uploading graphic videos or photos of accidents onto social media can cause a lot of emotional harm to loved ones of the victim, and can sometimes even be the way some find out a relative or friend has passed away. Moreover, according to the OPP, drivers using cell phones to take photos at collision scenes can even be charged with distracted driving.