What To Do In A Car Accident: Contacting The Police
It’s recommended that no matter the circumstance, the police are made aware of a car accident collision.
A common misunderstanding when people aren’t sure of what to do in a car accident is how and when should the police be brought into the situation.
It is the situation circumstances at hand that will depend on whether you’ll need to call the police immediately or whether you contact them once you leave the scene of the collision.
Reasons to Call 999 at the scene of the collision
Providing Safety, Medical Care and Protecting the scene
If the crash was a major accident, the police must be called straight to the scene.
The police will likely be the first unit to arrive at the accident scene. It’s also likely that, until the ambulance arrives, the trained police officers will be able to provide the best, instant medical care for anyone who requires it urgently.
In preparation for a medical ambulance arriving, they’ll also be the best equipped and trained people to clear the way for an ambulance to get into position.
Additionally, if the collision had caused major damage and scattered debris, or the road is now closed off as a result of the accident, the police must be contacted to attend.
For accidents with severity or heavy damages, the police will be able to block off the area around the crash, managing the situation more efficiently. During this, they’ll help keep the flow of traffic moving by creating safe passages or complete re-directions.
While it’s important that your own scene is the current priority, the process of all of the above will help avoid any further injuries or accidents that might occur with other interrupted traffic flows.
Assisting with and Investigating the collision
With the police now helping to control the situation, the new safer surroundings will help to create additional time and space for conversations. Further detail gathering will be able to take place.
The police deal with car accidents every day on UK roads and are professionally trained for what to do in a car accident. Their input, structure and questioning will additionally help to provide evidence of who is at fault.
During the time of the car accident is the most important time to collect the deciding detail needed for your accident claim process.
The police will act as a third party witness during the information gathering period and everything will be officially documented by them, allowing you to provide a detailed version of events to help to prove that you weren’t at fault.
As part of their structure, the police may document witness reports and collect information on the parties involved in your accident. It’s still very important that you also take your own detailed version of events – ideally in the form of written notes and media (expanded in ‘Exchanging Details’ below).
Suspicion of an intentional accident
Unfortunately, although most of us wouldn’t ever consider putting ourselves or others at risk from an intentional car accident, there are a small number of individuals who attempt to cause accidents to fraudulently scam other drivers and insurance companies for financial benefits.
If something doesn’t add up or feel right about the accident that you’ve been involved in, it may have been the intent of the third-party driver to create an accident.
At this point, you would call 999 as soon as possible, requesting attendance to the accident collision from the police to deal with this situation.
These scenarios are usually labelled as ‘Crash For Cash’ scams and are still to this day on the rise.
Being worried about what to do in a car accident if this is the case is perfectly natural in these instances; they are not just your standard car accident scenarios.
The other driver is uninsured
Driving without correct and official vehicle insurance is a road traffic offence throughout the UK, Wales and Scotland.
Our laws require that drivers have, at a minimum, a third-party insurance policy to cover in case of an accident.
If the other driver in your car collision states that they do not have vehicle insurance, or if you suspect they do not from their comments or the way they are acting, it will be best to call 999 and acquire the police’s assistance at the scene.
Once again, it’s common for additional questions around what to do in a car accident if it involved an uninsured driver. The police will be able to assist in the start of this process.
Under the influence of alcohol or drug use
On average it is said that 85,000 drivers each year are convicted of drink/drug driving offences.
In 2020, 6.1% of drivers involved in an accident and breath tested had failed and were driving under the influence at the time.
The danger this poses to pedestrians and other road users is so significant, and sometimes as a result, an accident ends up being caused.
It can also change the initial scope of what to do in a car accident should this be the case.
It’s very important that the police get involved at this stage to help provide evidence of the at-fault driver being under the influence.
If you have any suspicions that the driver involved in your accident is under any kind of drink or drug use influence, contact the police on 999 right away.
Fled the scene after the collision
Finally, another main reason to call the police on 999 at the scene of the accident is if, once the crash occurs, the other driver flees the scene without exchanging details.
If there is an opportunity to do so, try your best to read and make note of the driver’s number plate before it’s too late.
If there are any additional witnesses, collect the witness’s details and ask if you can note them down as a witness to the hit and run.
The police will provide a crime reference number for the incident.
However, do not attempt to follow or chase the hit and run driver. This is dangerous and will likely cause further accidents or injury.
Avoid waiting any period of time before contacting the police. It’s important to call 999 and report what happened so that the police have an opportunity to catch the offender.
Hit and Run collisions can bring additional questions of what to do in a car accident next. So feel free to give Auto Claims Assist a call on 0330 128 1407 and we can see if we’re able to assist you.
Contacting the Police when 999 doesn’t need to be used
If a car collision occurs, the best course of action is to notify your local police within 24 hours, no matter the circumstance. This is just to be on the safe side.
The UK police force explains that you do not have to report the car collision to the police, providing that:
All involved parties fully exchange details in the car accident, at the scene of the accident.
The damages and interruption have not caused any other damages, disruption, debris or road closures.
No allegations of any driving offences have been made.
Any other reason that you may consider it to be necessary for a police officer to be notified.
Should any of the above reasons occur though and you do not contact the police after a car collision, it may be classed as a traffic offence and result in:
However, unless stated in the above section ‘Reasons to Call 999 at the scene of the collision’, the contact method of reporting the accident to the police does not require to be ‘999’.
If you’re unsure of what to do in a car accident and feel that police presence could be of benefit, but there is no immediate danger, urgency or causes to call 999, you could also consider calling ‘101’ to first seeking advice. Request if there are any available police offers nearby and available.
Reporting The Collision Online
Some local police forces allow you to report a collision online.
For example, both The Metropolitan Police (London) and The Greater Manchester Police (Manchester) allow this option:
Through the National Policing in England, Wales and Northern Ireland website, you can find your local police force’s website and search for a collision reporting tool: Click To Find Your Local Police Force Website
Reporting online is a straightforward, efficient way for you to inform the police about the incident and to ensure you are not causing any traffic offences by not contacting them.
Do this within 24 hours of the accident.
Reporting The Collision at your local station
The next method of reporting the collision to the police is by heading down to your nearest police station within 24 hours to file the report with an officer.
They will request all of the details from you about the accident, so it’s important to bring along your detailed notes as well as the third-party drivers’ information.
If you had passengers in your vehicle, or the third party had passengers in their vehicle, you’ll want to also pass over the details of everyone involved.
To find your local police station, use this handy tool here and using your location or your area, you will be guided to the nearest police station to you.
Calling 101 after a car accident
On the official police websites, calling 101 is not the primary method of reporting your accident to the police within 24 hours.
If your local police station provides a collision reporting tool, you should start with this.
If you are able to get down to your local police station, you should secondary try this.
However, sometimes, people may struggle with accessing the internet or using devices. There may be also a reason why you’re unable to get to your local police station within 24 hours after your accident.
The operators on the phone are very helpful and will instruct you of what to do after a car accident next and what information they will need.