people helping a woman after a car accident

What To Do If You Witness A Car Accident

Witnessing a car accident first-hand requires a calm, cool, and collected response under traumatic circumstances. Your course of action will largely depend on the severity of the crash and the extent of the injuries, but there are some general guidelines to keep in mind.  By following these tips, you’ll be better prepared to help your fellow drivers until the professional emergency responders arrive.

Ensure Your Safety First

If you are driving when you spot a car crash, pull over to the side of the road at least 100 feet from the scene and put on your hazard lights. You want to give enough distance so you don’t put yourself in danger of broken glass, leaked fuel, or flames.

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Call 911

Smartphone screen with the emergency number 911 dialed – Person calling the support service phone line asking for helpNever assume that someone else already called 911. Even if the wreck doesn’t appear severe, the authorities should be notified.  Let the 911 operator know you witnessed a car accident, the location, number of people involved, and any other pertinent details.

Check On The Victims

man helping a woman after a car accident

Once you’ve ensured that it’s safe to approach the scene, check on the condition of the crash victims to make sure they are okay and offer help, if you are able. While this can be an emotionally taxing time, try to stick to the facts and remember that this is not the time to assess who is at fault for the accident or make judgments on what the other driver must have been thinking. A good rule of thumb is to never admit fault at the scene. Unless there’s a risk of the vehicle catching fire, do not under any circumstances move an injured person. Despite your best intentions, you could accidentally make the injury worse. Let the trained medical professionals tend to the injuries, but you can provide comfort by reassuring victims that help is on the way.

Stabilize The Vehicles (If You Can)

If the accident is minor, ask the driver to put the impacted vehicle in “park” and turn off the ignition. This will eliminate the risk of fire, especially since chances are good that the crash has caused an oil, fuel or coolant leak.  If it’s safe to do so, enlist help to move the car out of further harm’s way and to leave space for other vehicles and emergency responders.  If that’s not possible, set up flares or traffic triangles to warn other drivers of the accident.

Give A Statement & Provide Your Contact Information

people looking at a car after an accidentWhen the police arrive, provide the relevant facts and your contact information.  In the days and weeks following the event, you may be contacted as a witness by legal and medical authorities and/or insurance claims agents.  Be honest, factual, and consistent with your statements.

Car accidents can be upsetting for the victim and the bystander alike. The best way to deal with an accident is to stay on the scene and report what you’ve seenOnly exit your vehicle to render aid if it is safe to do soYour clearheaded actions to safely assist or protect the victims until emergency assistance arrives can make an enormous difference in the overall outcome.

Being in an accident might be stressful, but GEICO Mobile makes the claims process easy. Download it today in the App Store or Google Play.

By Stephanie Levis

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    Leave a comment

  1. Andria Payne says,

    Yes I know all these things, but it is always good to have a refresher, have not seen an accident happen in over 10 years thank goodness. I do have a problem in as much as I do not have a cell phone – I would ask another res ponder to call police. Thank You. Andria…

  2. Robert C McKeating says,

    this information was very helpful in retrospect I was hit by a car on 3/18/16 and remembered that I basically did everything you suggested with the exception of I checked for injuries befor I called 911 assuming that they would ask that question first.

  3. Fred rodio says,

    This is great advice to give all Geico customers including non clients as a first responder myself I find people are not equipped to deal with accidents when they occur this advice about keeping calm helps the situation

  4. Jason Strong says,

    Luckily I have never been a car accident, but I want to be prepared for it just in case it does happen. The part that I’m most afraid of is not knowing what to do after the accident. This helped me see the proper steps behind what to do and I hope that I’ll remember these if it does ever happen to me.

  5. Jack Attar says,

    Thanks Geico, I hope that some of us, if they have some extra moments when they witness an accident to stay to witness what happened to the police, with all honesty and transparency, this way no one of us will be a victim of the wrong witnessing.

  6. Phil Harris says,

    Good article. I just wonder how many people in major metropolitan areas would actually dare to involve themselves to the extent the author is suggesting. Just seems very unrealistic.

  7. Ann Goguen says,

    This was a good, informative article. I am forwarding it to some young relatives who drive. Keep up providing other helpful tips

  8. Bonita Lockhart says,

    Thanks for answering the rental car insurance since rental car companies try to pressure you into purchasing theirs.

  9. Erik Smith says,

    I’m concerned about the liability risk of helping an accident victim or helping with an investigation if I was near the accident when it happened. Good Samaritan laws do not convince me that I need not worry about being sued for helping an accident victim.

  10. Sagu Baraik says,

    Just make sure you have enough insurance to cover all possible situations you might be involved in and of course pray. That’s pretty much all you can do.

    You’re driving along and your car hits a patch of ice, swerves and unfortunately hits an 18 year old kid riding his bike who the week before received a Computer Science scholarship to MIT. The parents claim he would have become an award wining scientist and a holder of several elite patents and possibly a Noble Price winner worth several million dollars. But unfortunately your negligent driving cut his life short. He’ll never earn the $3 million but his relatives will most certainly try to recover that amount in court from you.