car crash

What to do if you’re involved in a car crash

Every week, around 35 people die on UK roads. If you’re shocked by that statistic, you should be; nearly half a dozen deaths every day is not a number to be comfortable with, yet our roads are among the safest in the world – and they’re generally safer than they’ve ever been. Crash investigator Steve Cox comments: “The number one cause of accidents is failing to look properly, which accounts for over a third of all collisions; a couple of extra seconds checking before manoeuvring can make the difference between life and death”.

How can I avoid a crash?

Next on the hit list is failing to judge another driver’s path or speed. Steve sheds light: “This is often combined with failing to look properly; it’s simply not giving yourself enough time to prepare for the manoeuvre you’re about to make.

“The classic scenario is a driver pulling out of a junction because they reckon it’s safe, when it isn’t – this often happens because a driver glances very swiftly left and right and pulls out of a junction without quite stopping first. Again, an extra couple of seconds weighing up the situation is all that’s needed to prevent a potentially fatal situation from arising”.

Almost as common a cause of crashes is being careless, reckless or in a hurry; once again not focusing enough on the surroundings. Steve explains: “Instead of holding back and weighing up the situation, this is about keeping that pedal to the metal and driving into a situation which you would have seen unfolding if only you’d given it a bit more time.

“I recently investigated a case where a young driver overtook a stationary bus in an urban street. Instead of being cautious, the driver ploughed on at 30mph – into a young child which had broken free from its mother. The child was killed and while it wasn’t the driver’s fault, more caution could have made all the difference”.


Number crunching

These are the 10 most common reasons for crashes in the UK, in order; speeding sits outside the top 10 for drivers as a whole, but those aged 17-24 are much more likely to crash from driving too fast for the conditions.

    • Failed to look properly 42%
    • Failed to judge other person’s path or speed 21%
    • Careless, reckless or in a hurry 16%
    • Loss of control 14%
    • Poor turn or manoeuvre 14%
    • Pedestrian failed to look properly 10%
    • Slippery road (due to weather) 10%
    • Sudden braking 7%
    • Travelling too fast for the conditions 7%
    • Following too close 7%

Killer facts

IAM RoadSmart looked at 250,000 crashes over a six-year period and found:

    • Men are twice as likely to crash as women.
    • Drivers under 25 are particularly likely to be in a collision.
    • The risk of being in a crash peaks immediately after passing the test, and gradually reduces over the following year.
    • Those who drive old cars are most likely to be involved in a smash.
    • Friday and Saturday nights are peak times.
    • Rural roads present a particular danger – young drivers are especially likely to be caught out by bends on country roads.
    • Young men are 10 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured in a car crash than those aged 35 or over.


What should you do if you’re involved in a road traffic collision?

Crunching your car is always going to be a very emotional experience, but try to stay calm whether or not it’s your fault.

Over three-quarters of drivers admit they’d say ‘sorry’ at the scene of an accident, which can be perceived as admitting fault. That can put you in a tricky situation with your insurer when you come to make a claim, so make sure you don’t do it, even if you think you are to blame for the crash.

Here’s what you should do:

    • Ensure the driver of the other vehicle is OK – if they’re in need of medical attention, call the police and an ambulance.
    • Make sure your mobile is fully charged or keep a hand-held, manual charger in the car so that you can top up without needing to plug it in.
    • Exchange insurance details. Always keep a pen and paper in your glove box and consider writing all of your contact details and insurance particulars on a piece of paper in advance, to give to the third party.
    • Any severity of accident can send a person into shock so the more preparations made ahead of time, the better.
    • Take photographs of any damage on your mobile phone or a camera – include the cars involved, the road and any skid-marks. Keep a disposable camera in your glovebox to ensure that you always have access to a camera. Better still, have a dash cam fitted to your car.
    • Don’t become angry – it’s important to stay calm and keep your temper in check at the scene of an accident.
    • Don’t continue driving – shock induced by any type of car accident can often be delayed. Don’t continue on a long journey even if your car is drivable – take time to relax and calm down.
    • Call your insurance company immediately to ensure that the claim and subsequent repairs are handled as speedily as possible.