If you drive a car, chances are you have been caught in a traffic jam at some point. Most people can relate to trudging through a gridlock of seemingly immobile cars while the lights of emergency response vehicles flash up ahead. Few things are more irritating.
Have you ever stopped to wonder what it would be like to arrive just a few minutes earlier? Hopefully, you will never have to witness a car accident, but if you do, be familiar with the proper procedure. It may even help save a life one day.
Don't Make Things Worse
Get yourself at least 100 feet from the accident and pull over. Slamming on your brakes is a sure way to cause further disaster. If you are not rammed by the person behind you, there is a good chance you will be hurt by shattered glass, leaking fuel, or flames if they are present. Once pulled over, put your hazard lights on.
Even if you think someone else is already doing it, call 911 immediately. Describe what happened and where. Determine if it is dangerous to approach and, if there is no immediate danger to you, check on the victim or victims. Relaying their physical condition over the phone could assist medical personnel en route.
It is important not to move the victim unless absolutely necessary. Excessive shifting may aggravate any injuries. If relocation is not possible, you can help in other ways such as keeping the flow of traffic steady or grabbing a fire extinguisher if needed. If injuries are minor or nonexistent, prompt everyone to get all drivable vehicles off the road to make room for emergency teams.
All the while, be prepared to act as a witness to the police. Having a statement ready can save time and aggravation. Honesty is important as you may be called upon to testify in court or speak to an insurance company.
Foul Play and Legality
If the accident was a hit and run, take in as many details of the other car as possible. The license plate number is the most important, but under no circumstances should you go after the driver. If they are angry or scared, they could be dangerous.
If you are unable to help or are just frightened, most places will not require you to stop if you witness an accident. Check the Good Samaritan Laws in your state, but remember to be safe in whatever you do. Contact a company like Monohan & Blankenship for more information.