How to Assist a Driver Involved in an Accident
If you are ever a witness to an automobile accident, you may feel compelled to assist the driver and passengers who were involved. Being a Good Samaritan is an admirable act; however, offering your assistance may do more harm than good if you are not informed of how to properly assist car wreck victims. Take into consideration the following tips before witnessing an emergency situation in which an injured motorist might need your assistance.
How to Proceed
Be aware of your state’s legal regulations. Some states require people to assist those in need if they are physically able to do so or have laws in place that protect Good Samaritans from prosecution if something goes wrong. In other states, assisting an injured driver or passenger might put you at risk of legal repercussions. Become informed before you find yourself in an emergency situation so that you will be able to use your own good judgment in the event that you are witness to an automobile accident.
If you are a witness to a car wreck, first focus your attention on maintaining a safe distance from the site of impact. Your own involvement in the wreck will lessen your ability to provide assistance to those who might be seriously injured.
If you decide to stop and provide assistance, locate a safe place to park your car. Make sure that you are parked off of the road and away from any traffic.
The first thing that you should do to assist a driver who was involved in an accident is call 911. Immediately contact emergency services and notify them that an ambulance and fire truck are necessary. Try to give the dispatcher an accurate description of where the wreck is located using mile markers, street names, major intersections, or familiar landmarks. Be prepared to inform the dispatcher of the number and types of vehicles involved in the accident. The dispatcher may give you specific instructions on how to assist the motorists. He or she may also request that you stay on the phone until emergency services arrive.
In most situations, it is not advisable to move a wreck vehicle. On major interstate highways or very busy roadways, a wrecked vehicle may hinder the flow of traffic so severely that local officials prefer that wrecked vehicles be moved from the road as soon as possible. If this is the case, noticeable signs will denote this request. If you have not seen such signs, do not attempt to move a wreck vehicle from the roadway. Insurance agents, police officers, and investigators may need to photograph or measure the vehicles’ locations after the drivers and passengers receive medical care.
There are a myriad of injuries that you could encounter when assisting individuals involved in automobile accidents. Use your knowledge of basic first aid to provide temporary medical care to those involved in the wreck until emergency services arrive. For example, apply pressure to stop bleeding and support obviously broken bones. It is very important to note that individuals who are not conscious or who may have experienced a neck, head, or back injury should not be moved until emergency services arrive.
If you are a witness to hit and run accident, assist the victim by gathering details of the vehicle including license plate number; make, model, and color of the vehicle; and a description of the driver.
When emergency services arrive, return to your own vehicle unless specifically asked to do otherwise. Police or paramedics may need to gather information from you, but will be focusing their attention on those who were directly involved in the wreck first. Stay in your vehicle or stand out of the way to avoid impeding emergency workers.
If you feel that you cannot provide assistance to injured motorists for any reason after witnessing a car wreck, the most helpful thing that you can do is to call 991 and locate another individual who is willing to help until emergency services arrive.
Being witness to a car accident is a frightening experience. In many cases, victims of car wrecks rely on the assistance of bystanders or witnesses until emergency officials arrive. Remember to use good judgment when assisting individuals who may be critically injured.
Andrei Zakhareuski is the founder of Driving-Tests.org. He has been writing for beginner US drivers for several years.
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