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Accidents Happen: tips to help you after a vehicle collision

This Transport Month, TotalEnergies South Africa continues its commitment to promoting safe driving and relieving pressure on infrastructure, but even the best preparation can’t always prevent accidents.

We know that even the most cautious drivers can still be involved in a collision, so it’s important to be prepared. Knowing exactly what to do can make all the difference in the moments directly after an accident.

A vehicle collision can be frightening, disorientating and potentially expensive, which is why we’ve put together some tips to help you get back in control and back on the road.

Step 1: Check yourself for injuries

Remember, your safety comes first. Make sure that you don’t have any obvious injuries. If you do, try not to move, contact emergency services and wait for them to arrive.

Step 2: Check on your passengers

If you’re not too hurt to move, make sure that the rest of the people in your vehicle are also unharmed. If they are, call for an ambulance immediately, or ask a bystander to telephone immediately if you can’t.

Step 3: Check on the person in the other vehicle, if there’s another vehicle involved

It’s also important to ensure that you do your best to help the people in the other vehicle. If they are injured, make sure to call for help.

Step 4: Move somewhere safe and if possible, move your car

Rather than staying in your car, if you’re not injured, try and move to a safe spot on the sidewalk. If your car is still mobile, you can also try to move it to the side of the road to avoid blocking traffic. If not, there’s nothing wrong with leaving it there and getting yourself to safety.

Step 5: Wait for help

In the event that someone is injured, it’s very important not to leave the scene of an accident. While you wait for help, you might want to turn on the hazard lights of your vehicle and place brightly coloured objects – such as orange cones or a warning triangle – behind the car to warn other people to slow down.

Step 6: Exchange information and document the scene

In the event that you and the other driver are both unharmed, it’s important that you exchange contact and insurance information with each other. Make sure you trade full names, telephone numbers, try and get a copy of each other’s drivers license (take a photo) and remember the model, license plate and colour of each other’s vehicles. There is nothing wrong with taking photos of the accident scene.

Step 7: Call the authorities or open an accident report at your nearest police station

Even if it’s just a minor fender-bender, it’s important to contact the police or visit your local police station to open up an accident report. This will help you or the other driver to claim from insurance later, if you have it. Try and write down exactly how the accident took place and where.

Step 8: If you have insurance, notify your insurer and start the claims process

Remember that your insurance company may have roadside assistance services who can help you at the scene with your vehicle. It’s a good idea to contact them as soon as you’re able, even from the site of the accident, to start your claims process. Your insurer will be able to guide you through the best course of action.

Step 9: Repair your car

You want to be able to get back on the road as soon as possible, so it’s important to follow up with your insurer about when you can have your vehicle repaired. If you’re not insured, you can have your car towed to a licensed panel-beater or repair shop, and they can give you an indication of how long it will take to repair your car.