What to do in a car accident

By Danielle Ringgit

YOU’RE DRIVING all alone one day and it’s raining. The traffic is bad and someone behind you is honking and swearing at you to move faster. But you can’t, since the road is jam-packed with other car drivers trying to get home safely.


But the incessant honking and swearing gets on your nerves and so, out of annoyance you swerve your car to the right and bam! The next thing you know, you’ve hit another car.


This is the part where most teenagers or young drivers start to panic and some might even burst into tears. If you’re in this situation, what would you do?


First, you might consider calling your parents, but what if they are not around or if you are somewhere far away from home?


Sure, if your parents were around, you assume they would handle the negotiation as well as paying for the damages that you caused. On the other hand, I suppose you can always call your friends but, what if they also do not know what to do?


Being involved in a road accident is a sticky situation and usually we could end up in an argument if we don’t keep a cool head.


According to Infrastructure Development and Communications Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin last year while attending the 50th Shell Traffic Games at Plaza Merdeka, the main cause of road accidents is human error.


In addition to this, he also stated that about 46% of the total road accident deaths recorded involved people between 16 and 45 years of age. The Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS) predicted that by the year 2020 there could be 10,716 road fatalities in the whole country, or 29.8 fatalities per day


So, if you do or have encountered this type of situation and wonder about the proper way of handling it, we asked Davina Agnes Enteli, director of Road Safety Department (JKJR) Sarawak.


SAFETY FIRST:  Davina putting a reflective sticker on the back of a bus at Kuching Sentral bus terminal during a recent road safety programme.

SAFETY FIRST: Davina putting a reflective sticker on the back of a bus at Kuching Sentral bus terminal during a recent road safety programme.

Q: What is the first thing I should do after a car accident?

A: In an ideal situation you must stop your vehicle immediately whenever you are involved in an accident. Failure to do so is an offence. Be calm and check if there is any immediate support needed.


Q: Who should I contact after a car accident?

A: Contact the police or fire rescue or ambulance, whichever is necessary for help. Make sure proper hazard notice is given to alert other road users before attending to any causality. If you are not involved in the accident, please avoid stopping if it has already been attended to by others unless you are a competent first responder as traffic flow may be obstructed and creating other hazard.


Q: If I think the accident is my fault, should I admit to it?

A: The crash site is not an appropriate place to admit fault and you’re advised to do so at the police station.


Q: If the situation was reversed, what should I do?

A: Give details of the occurrence when making the police report for investigation and decision-making.


Q: What should I do if the other person refuses to admit to being at fault?

A: Provide clear and sufficient details when lodging a report to the police. They can conduct investigation and decide.


Q: If I don’t feel injured after a car accident, do I have to see a doctor?

A: Any form of crashes might have an internal effect and it is a checkup is recommended for those involved.


Q: What kind of accidents should be claimed from insurance companies after an accident?

A: All forms of accident insurance companies after an accident. Vehicles involved in any form of accidents are claimable other than the ones specified in the term and condition of the coverage. You may clarify this with the insurance companies.


Q: How does an accident affect the resell price of the car?

A: Consultation can be done with any car company available.


Q: What happens if I don’t report a car accident?

A: Not advisable as all accidents involve some monetary cost to the immediate parties and by reporting the accident, it helps the relevant authorities conduct investigation or studies on committing accidents such as road condition, driver’s behaviour, and so on. This is important in finding solutions in effort to reduce accidents in the future.


Q: Would it be advisable and legit to take pictures of the condition of the car as evidence?

A: Yes. It helps to facilitate the investigation by the police/insurance companies and also for personal references in the future.


Q: Is it advisable to move the car or leave it at the original place right after the accident (or could it compromise the evidence?)

A: It is not advisable to do so right after a road traffic crash as victims might still be in a state of shock. It is, however, necessary when a rescue operation is needed to be performed. Those who are involved in an accident are advised to be calm and get the necessary assistance. Make police report as soon as possible.


So, when dealing with a car accident, it is advisable to keep cool and be calm and most importantly, do not be all dramatic and create a scene in the middle of the road as this might interfere with other drivers on the road.


In my opinion, prevention is a better solution. Besides spending money on fixing up the car and paying for damages wouldn’t you rather use that money to do something more entertaining like going on a vacation or shopping?


But yet, why do accidents keep on happening? Well, most can be because of the drivers themselves.


Number one on my list is the distracted driver. These types of drivers are usually distracted by their phones or fixing their makeup. Drivers could easily be distracted by these little activities and once their eyes are off the road, their focus is disrupted.


Next on the list are  drunk drivers. While there is nothing wrong with drinking if you are celebrating, there is a problem with drinking until you get drunk. It should go without saying that drunken people are usually not aware of their surroundings and lose control of all their senses when they consume too much alcohol.


Making its way on the list are tired drivers. Most adults need at least 8 hours of sleep everyday just to replenish their energy and regain their strength. Tired drivers could be just as dangerous as the two above as it is very possible to fall asleep from fatigue when driving especially on long road-trips. If you’re tired, why not switch drivers or take a taxi or public transportation?


Then, there are the ‘fast and furious’ drivers. According to MIROS Crash Investigation and Reconstruction Annual Statistic Report for 2007-2011, speeding contributes to 12.2% of road accidents.


Last on my list are the selfish drivers. These type of drivers are those with bad attitudes: impatient, honking and overtaking our lane suddenly without indicating. I am sure we all have encountered this type at least once in our driving experience.


Hopefully these informative tips could answer some doubts that we have in the past and help us deal better with car accidents.


For further inquiry, please visit the website: http://www.jkjr.gov.my/en/jkjr-negeri/sarawak.html

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