With hundreds of accidents happening weekly on our roads the chances of you witnessing an accident are high. Are you prepared, in the unfortunate event of an accident, to get out of your own car and assist?
Dewald Ranft, Chairman of the Motor Industry Workshop Association, says most motorists are ill-prepared to really help.
“Very few motorists have a first-aid kit in their cars or a small fire extinguisher," he said. "Yet these items could make all the difference in an accident situation.”
While he recognises the fact that the ordinary motorist is not a paramedic, “a small first-aid kit contains some basic items that could be very helpful including a pair of gloves, an essential before handling any open wounds,” he advised.
A small fire extinguisher for your car is also worth considering.
“There were several reported incidents during the last few years where vehicles have caught on fire and literally burnt to the ground," he said. "By having a fire extinguisher in the vehicle these fires could have possibly been stopped in the early stages.”
Ranft encouraged motorists to invest in a first-aid kit and fire extinguisher for their cars. These items are inexpensive and readily available.
He added that it is also important to have emergency numbers on hand. Save a few emergency numbers on your phone, he said.
Three worth having are:
Nationwide emergency response - 10111
Ambulance - 10177
Cell phone emergency line - 112.
What to do if you're involved in an accident
Move the vehicles out of traffic and into a safe area.
If people have been injured, or if property has been damaged, you are legally required to stop and assist.
If you’re unable to move your car, put your hazard lights on and place a warning triangle behind the car.
If you, or anyone else is injured, call an ambulance.
Even if the accident is minor, call the police.
Gather information from others involved in the accident such as their names, ID numbers, contact details and vehicle registration.
Take photos of the cars and the accident scene from different angles only if it is safe to do so.
Be polite and remain calm at all times.
Don’t admit liability for the accident.
If the police do not arrive at the scene of the accident, ensure that you file a report at a police station within 24 hours. If you’re injured and cannot go to a police station within 24 hours, report it as soon as you can thereafter.
If your car has been damaged and you’re unable to drive it, contact your car insurance firm to ask if there is a towing company they would prefer you to use.
If your insurer doesn’t have a preferred towing company, ensure that you enlist the help of a tow truck operator affiliated with the South African Towing and Recovery Association or the United Towing Association of South Africa. Make note of all their details, remove valuables from your car and ensure you understand the towing and storage fees.