Steps to take following a road traffic accident

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Health Assured team

23 January 2019

A road traffic accident can happen at any time, and the impact of such can be significant physically, emotionally and financially.


The World Health Organization (WHO) issues a global status report on road safety every two to three years reflecting information from countries across the world. The most recent report in 2018 revealed that 1.35 million individuals lost their lives in fatal road traffic accidents globally, with road traffic accidents being the eighth leading cause of death for people of all ages.


The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) confirm that in September 2018 there were 38.4 million vehicles licensed for use on the roads in Great Britain. With such a high volume of vehicles in constant use, it’s unfortunately common for minor to major collisions to occur. Sometimes road traffic accidents are unavoidable and therefore greater awareness amongst road users of the steps to take following a road traffic accident can ensure the safety of those involved and compliance with applicable legislation.


Immediately after an accident

Although it is easy to overlook things in the immediate aftermath of an accident, there are a few simple actions that are important to consider. The vehicle should be stopped immediately and the engine should be turned off. Following this, the hazard lights should be turned on in order to maintain the vehicle is fully visible to any other road users. It is also imperative to check if any injuries have been sustained by those in the vehicle, if there is a serious injury an ambulance should be called immediately and yourself and any passengers must move to a safe space if possible.


Exchange of details

Failing to provide adequate details after involvement in a road traffic accident can be serious offence. Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 stipulates that the driver must stop after an accident and provide their name and address, they must also provide the name and address of the owner of the vehicle if this is someone other than them. In addition to the information required by law, it is also useful to exchange insurance information and details of any passengers involved.


Photographs and other evidence

Gathering a record of the circumstances at the time of the accident and obtaining any photographic evidence is important. The following information will be helpful to have if there is a disagreement surrounding liability for the accident:

- Time and date

- Weather conditions

- Road junctions and markings

- Photographic evidence

- Witness contact details


Contacting the police

The police should be contacted if there is any type of road block caused by the incident, this means that traffic can be diverted accordingly and there is a lower chance of risk of further collision by other vehicles. The police can also provide a crime reference number or begin an investigation if necessary. For example, if there has been an unlawful act such as failure to share details, driving under the influence or an intention to cause a collision.


Contacting your insurance provider

Quite often, individuals are uncertain as to whether they need to tell their insurer about their involvement in a road traffic accident, particularly if the accident was relatively minor or if there has been a private agreement between the parties to cover repair costs outside of insurance. It is crucial to review insurance policy documents in order to understand the obligation to notify an insurer of involvement in an accident. Many insurance policies include a standardised clause which states that the policy can be made void if an accident has not been declared.


In order to ensure your insurance claim is dealt with promptly, have the following details to hand before making the call:

- Policy number

- Third party driver’s insurance details

- Third party driver’s contact details

- Car registration numbers



If you feel as though you need further assistance with any of the topics mentioned in this guidance, please call our helpline on:

0800 030 5182

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