What to do at a road crash scene
The National Road Traffic Act : Section 61 Accidents and Accident Reports stipulates the procedure to follow if you are involved in a road crash.
The step-by-step process when you are involved in a road crash:
- Stop your vehicle
- Help anyone who is hurt.
- Find out what the extent of the damage is.
- Get all relevant information relating to the crash
- Report the road crash to the police (even if it is only damage).
- Do not interfere with the evidence on the scene.
- Be aware of the legal consequences.
- Do not leave the scene if any injuries or fatalities are observed.
The South African Police Services (SAPS) member will complete an accident report on the prescribed form. The document will either be filed at the relevant SAPS station, the local municipality or the provincial Department of Transport and Public Works (DTPW) in Cape Town depending on whether a criminal case has been opened and whether the crash occurred inside the area of the local authority. All crash reports for crashes outside municipal areas, where there is no criminal case being investigated, are kept with the DTPW.
Stop your vehicle
If you are involved in a road crash that causes injury to or the death of anyone, or which causes damage to property or any animal, you are required by law to stop your vehicle immediately.
It is a crime not to stop after a road crash, and you could be fined up to R180 000, or sent to prison for up to nine years, or both. More information on offences and penalties can be found in Section 89 of the National Road Traffic Act.
Help anyone who is hurt
After you've stopped, you need to determine if anyone is injured or deceased and help them as much as you can. Be careful with your assistance to any injuries.
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Find out what the extent of the damage is
You will need to find out how much damage has been caused to property.
You need to give your personal information and vehicle registration number to anyone who might need it relevant to the crash.
Get all relevant information for your own reference
If you are involved in the crash, you should try to get the following information from all parties involved and witnesses on the crash scene
- full names,
- ID numbers,
- telephone details, and
- vehicle registration numbers.
You should also get:
- descriptions of the vehicles,
- details of police and traffic officers and ambulance personnel, and
- details of tow truck company and staff on the scene.
This information will help you if you want to make a claim against your insurance or against the Road Accident Fund, or if you want to claim the costs of repairs from the other party.
At a later stage, you or your lawyers may need a copy of the accident report that is filled out by the police.
Report the road crash to the SAPS (even if it is only damage)
SAPS do not have to be called to the scene if no one has been hurt, but the crash must be reported - by both drivers - at a SAPS station within 24 hours.
You have to give your name, address and vehicle registration number including your driving licence to the SAPS or traffic officer, either at the scene of the crash or at a SAPS station when you report the crash.
If you are hurt and can't report the crash immediately, you must do it as soon as possible and explain why there has been a delay in reporting the road crash.
It is a criminal offence not to report a road crash in which another person's property has been damaged, or in which another person is injured, even if neither of the drivers intends taking legal action.
Don't interfere with evidence on the scene
You must NOT drink any alcohol or take any drugs that have a narcotic effect unless it is on doctor's orders.
If the police asks you to go for a medical examination, you must not drink any alcohol or take any drugs that have a narcotic effect before the examination and before you have reported the crash.
If anyone is injured in the crash, the vehicles may not be moved before the police or traffic officer has arrived and said that the vehicles can be moved.
If the crash totally blocks the passage of other vehicles, the vehicle may be moved sufficiently to allow vehicles to pass, but only after you have clearly marked the vehicle positions (for example with chalk or spray paint).
Be aware of the possible legal consequences for your actions
Some of the possible legal consequences following a crash are:
- a criminal charge of driving recklessly,
- a criminal charge of driving negligently,
- a criminal charge of culpable homicide,
- a civil claim for damage to property, or
- a civil claim for personal injury.
Do not leave the scene if any injuries or fatalities are observed
If any injuries or fatalities are identified the SAPS must attend to the scene.
Read more about the Regulations In Terms Of the National Road Traffic Act.
Contact the Road Accident Fund (RAF) to enquire about lodging a claim if a road crash causes injury or death because one of the drivers was negligent.