How and when to assist during a road accident scene

The N2 highway has been a hot spot for road accidents and criminal activity of late.

After the murder of a Saps officer on Wednesday morning and the death of 6 motorists over the past weekend, many Capetonians have expressed feelings of helplessness regarding safety on our national roads.

Pippa Hudson spoke with Paramedic and police reservist Ryan Morris about what other motorists should and should not do when confronted by an accident scene.

According to Morris, road-users must first consider whether their intervention (though well-intended) will be helpful or harmful to the situation.

Stop if you can and assist if you know that your assistance is going to make a difference, rather than just getting in the way.

Ryan Morris, paramedic and police reservist

He says that it is important for people to be able to step aside when emergency services arrive on the scene.

(Scroll down for the full audio)

7 tips for motorists at an accident scene:

1. Stop.

If you are implicated in an accident 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.

But if you are a passer-by wanting to assist, and stopping at your own will, make sure that you stop in an area that does not create any obstruction for emergency services to intervene.

2. Help anyone who is hurt.

Find out if anyone is hurt and help them as much as you can. However, if you do not have first aid skills, be careful not to do anything that may make the injury worse.

Call emergency services as soon as possible.

The City of Cape Town's emergency number is 107 on a Telkom landline or payphone or 021 480 7700 on a cellular/mobile phone. You can phone the SAPS on 10111.

3. Find out what the extent of the damage is.

Make an assessment of how much damage has been caused to property.

4. Get all relevant information.

If you are involved in the accident, or helping on an injured person's behalf, try to get the following information from all parties involved and witnesses:

  • Full names and ID numbers
  • Addresses and contact details
  • Vehicle registration numbers and descriptions
  • Details of police and traffic officers, ambulance personnel and tow truck personnel.

This information will help with insurance claims, third party claims or Road Accident Fund claims.

5. Report the accident to the police.

The police don't have to be called to the scene if no one has been hurt, but the accident must be reported - by both drivers - at a police station or traffic office within 24 hours.

6. Do not interfere with the evidence.

If anyone is injured in the accident, the vehicles may not be moved before the police or traffic officer has arrived and said that the vehicles can be moved.

If the accident 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).

It may be useful to gather other forms of evidence such a video footage or photographs.

7. Be aware of the legal consequences.

There are many criminal charges that can result from a road accident such as reckless driving, culpable homicide in addition to civil claims such as damage to property.

Therefore, those who intervene at an accident must be prepared to make a police statement and or testify in court.

Tips adapted from Western Cape Government website.

Listen to the full conversation on CapeTalk's Pippa Hudson Show:

Cape Argus columnist Murray Williams on N2 smash and grab scene in May

On 25 May 2015 Cape Argus columnist Murray Williams called in to CapeTalk to report a smash and grab scene live from the N2 highway.

According to Williams, although it was rush hour traffic that morning, no other vehicle made an effort to stop.

He says that he would caution others from stopping at scenes that seem unsafe and that could further endanger the victims or those wanting to assist.

Listen to the full conversation between Murray Williams and CapeTalk's Africa Melane:

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