Our team handles a lot of accident towing requests every week. One thing we’ve noticed is that the average motorist isn’t exactly sure of their responsibilities after being involved in a crash. That makes sense since it’s not something you do on a regular basis (we hope!) and nobody ever plans for it.
Still, the uncertainty can add even more stress to a difficult situation. So, here’s a simple guide that’ll walk you through what you’re meant to do and how you can help keep everyone safe at the scene.
Before we go any further, if anyone is in any danger at the scene, your first step should be to call 000. They can walk you through the process from there.
Assess what’s going on around you
Before you can do anything else, get yourself to a safe location and assess what’s happening at the scene of the crash. Being involved in a car accident can be a disorienting experience so take a moment to get your bearings.
Call 000 immediately, but only if required
A lot of drivers are under the impression that after any car accident, they’re meant to leave the vehicles where they are and call 000. This just isn’t true and can create additional hazards as well as using up valuable emergency resources.
000 is only to be used in the case of an emergency. That means they don’t need to be involved in a minor traffic accident where there are no injuries or dangers present. In some cases, police will still need to be notified — we’ll get to when you should call Policelink soon.
When you should call 000 for emergency assistance
The emergency services are there to help if anyone is in danger. That said, the work they do is incredibly important and you should only ever call 000 if it’s legitimately necessary.
You should call 000 when:
- Someone is trapped in a vehicle
- There’s been a death or injury
- There’s the potential for danger (e.g. a ruptured fuel tank, damaged power line)
- Someone is acting dangerously. Threatening violence, holding a weapon etc.
- You suspect the other driver(s) is under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- The other driver(s) is refusing to exchange contact information
- The accident is blocking traffic or creating a danger to other motorists
Outside of these factors, when there’s no emergency, there’s no need to call 000.
If you don’t need to call 000, police don’t need to attend the scene
It really is as simple as that. If there’s no danger at the scene and nobody has been injured, you don’t have to wait for police to arrive. In fact, forcing them to come out is a poor use of their time.
You may need to contact Policelink for insurance or other purposes but this can be done later. We’ll get to that soon.
Move people and vehicles to safety where possible
You’d be shocked by how quickly a minor car accident can turn into something far more threatening. To help keep you and the people around you safe, now is the time to move people and vehicles away from the scene if possible.
Of course, use common sense and don’t go near damaged power lines, fuel leaks or fires. If you can safely move vehicles off the road and to a safe location, this removes a lot of potential dangers.
If there are still people and vehicles on the road, this can be a major distraction for other motorists which can easily cause additional crashes.
Call for a tow truck service if needed
If one or more vehicles can’t be safely driven home or to a repairer, the next thing for you to arrange is a tow truck. You want to get your vehicle removed from the scene quickly and professionally. That’s where we come in!
Once one of our tow trucks arrive on the scene, the driver will be able to guide you through everything you need to know from there. Your vehicle will be carefully removed so you can take care of exchanging info and dealing with insurance.
Document details and exchange info with the other driver(s)
Make sure you exchange contact information with any other drivers involved in the accident, no matter who was at fault.
This should be done for any type of accident and is required in most situations, especially where police and insurers are involved.
The minimum details you should document:
- Date and time
- Location of the crash (Google Maps can help)
- Driver’s name
- A photo of their drivers licence
- Their address, if not the same as on their licence
- Their vehicle registration
- The name of their insurance company
- Their insurance policy number
- Photos of the scene, where safe to do so
This should be done before leaving the scene to avoid any further complications. Photos of the accident could prove helpful later as well. Doing this prevents the other driver from being able to make false claims.
Since memory can be pretty unreliable after a traumatic experience, they can also be a great way to confirm your version of events.
Leave the scene
Now that everything else is taken care of and you’ve gathered the required information, you can leave the scene of the accident. Emotions can run high in this type of situation so it’s usually best to leave the scene as soon as possible.
Call Policelink (non-emergency line) if you didn’t need to call 000
Officially, if you didn’t need 000 or a tow truck, the police don’t need to be notified. Not even via their non-emergency line. If an accident towing service was needed though, you need to call Policelink on 131 444 as soon as practical.
Either way, if you plan on making an insurance claim, you’ll want to contact Policelink about the accident so you can be given a police report number.
We hope you found this information helpful and it simplifies the process if you’re ever involved in a car crash. For more detailed reading, take a look at the Frequently Asked Questions on the QLD Police website. You can also print their What to Do in a Traffic Crash guide to keep in your glovebox just in case. It provides links to the Policelink app as well as basic forms to record details of the accident.