What to Do at a Road Traffic Accident

Hopefully you will never be involved in a road traffic accident but what if you are? What would you do if were the first, or the only, person to arrive at the scene of an accident? Do not panic we have some basic advice to help keep yourself safe and save lives.

Warn Others

Park your car, with your hazard lights on to warn other traffic. Place a warning triangle, at least 45 metres from your vehicle, in the road.

If there are other people around who can help send them back along the road to wave traffic to slow it down. Take extra care on fast moving roads.

Reduce the Risks

  • Check the scene
  • Switch off engines, if it safe for you to do so
  • Impose a no smoking ban
  • Move uninjured people away from the vehicles to safety; on a motorway this should, if possible, be well away from the traffic, the hard shoulder or the central reservation
  • Keep children at a safe distance.

Get Help

Call for the emergency services immediately on your mobile or send someone to get help. The UK emergency number is 999 (or 112 on a mobile phone).

The operator will want the following information:

  • The location of the incident: Road names or numbers, landmarks, map reference, sat-nav positioning reference etc. If you are on the motorway marker posts on the side of the hard shoulder are a good location reference or using the emergency telephone will allow easy identification of your location.
  • The phone number you are calling from (if you are cut off the emergency service will be able to contact you)
  • Exactly what has happened, for example, “Motorcycle has hit a bus – the motorcyclist is not moving”
  • Additional information about anyone who is injured – age, gender, are they conscious, details of injury etc.

First Aid

Start by assessing the injuries, the quiet casualties are probably the worst injured. Reassure the noisy ones that help is on the way.


  • Don’t move casualties, you may cause further injury.
  • Do not move injured people from their vehicles unless they are in immediate danger from fire or explosion
  • Do not remove a motorcyclist’s helmet unless it is essential to do so
  • Check for breathing
  • Stop bleeding, firm pressure on a wound will stem bleeding
  • Don’t give casualties anything to eat or drink, this can cause complications for medics and delay lifesaving treatment.

Note – the above information is a bare minimum. If you would like to know more about basic first-aid please see our first aid courses. It’s easy to save lives with simple skills that can be learned in just a one day.

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