What to do if involved in a road accident

Accident in Wilgehof. Credit: Arrive Alive
  • The very first thing you have to do, is to ensure your own safety. Is it safe for you to be around the accident scene? Your safety is first priority and you cannot help anyone if you are at risk.
  • Stop in a safe place, with your hazard lights on and put a warning triangle at a fair distance back from the scene to alert motorists to the possible danger ahead. This will give them enough time to slow down safely.
  • Look around the scene for any possible hazards. These may include petrol or diesel leaks, fire, oncoming traffic, dangerous animals or hostile bystanders.
  • Assess the scene and see if there are any injuries. If there are, make sure that you phone for help by dialling an emergency medical services provider immediately. Remember to give the call taker your number in case the call gets cut off.
  • When you call for help, make sure you have the location of the incident handy. If you are unsure of the exact location, the nearest intersection or large landmark would also be helpful.
  • If possible, provide the call taker with a brief description of the accident scene, the number of injured patients and the nature of their injuries.
  • Do not move an injured person unless absolutely necessary as you may cause further injury, especially if the person has suffered spinal injuries. Rather try to keep injured people calm by talking to them and reassuring them that help is on the way.
  • If there are any patients who are bleeding heavily, try to stop the bleeding by compressing the wound with a clean towel or piece of clothing.

And buckle up!

Only 4 out of 10 South Africans wear seatbelts. The Free state department of police roads and transport reports that over the past decade more 135 000 people lost their lives in road crashes in the country. Many of these victims were not wearing their seatbelts, this despite research proving that wearing a seatbelt reduces the chance of death or serious injury in crashes by up to 75%.