people helping a woman after a car accident

What To Do If You Witness A Car Accident

Witnessing a car accident first-hand requires a calm, cool, and collected response under traumatic circumstances. Your course of action will largely depend on the severity of the crash and the extent of the injuries, but there are some general guidelines to keep in mind.  By following these tips, you’ll be better prepared to help your fellow drivers until the professional emergency responders arrive.

Ensure Your Safety First

If you are driving when you spot a car crash, pull over to the side of the road at least 100 feet from the scene and put on your hazard lights. You want to give enough distance so you don’t put yourself in danger of broken glass, leaked fuel, or flames.

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Call 911

Smartphone screen with the emergency number 911 dialed – Person calling the support service phone line asking for helpNever assume that someone else already called 911. Even if the wreck doesn’t appear severe, the authorities should be notified.  Let the 911 operator know you witnessed a car accident, the location, number of people involved, and any other pertinent details.

Check On The Victims

man helping a woman after a car accident

Once you’ve ensured that it’s safe to approach the scene, check on the condition of the crash victims to make sure they are okay and offer help, if you are able. While this can be an emotionally taxing time, try to stick to the facts and remember that this is not the time to assess who is at fault for the accident or make judgments on what the other driver must have been thinking. A good rule of thumb is to never admit fault at the scene. Unless there’s a risk of the vehicle catching fire, do not under any circumstances move an injured person. Despite your best intentions, you could accidentally make the injury worse. Let the trained medical professionals tend to the injuries, but you can provide comfort by reassuring victims that help is on the way.

Stabilize The Vehicles (If You Can)

If the accident is minor, ask the driver to put the impacted vehicle in “park” and turn off the ignition. This will eliminate the risk of fire, especially since chances are good that the crash has caused an oil, fuel or coolant leak.  If it’s safe to do so, enlist help to move the car out of further harm’s way and to leave space for other vehicles and emergency responders.  If that’s not possible, set up flares or traffic triangles to warn other drivers of the accident.

Give A Statement & Provide Your Contact Information

people looking at a car after an accidentWhen the police arrive, provide the relevant facts and your contact information.  In the days and weeks following the event, you may be contacted as a witness by legal and medical authorities and/or insurance claims agents.  Be honest, factual, and consistent with your statements.

Car accidents can be upsetting for the victim and the bystander alike. The best way to deal with an accident is to stay on the scene and report what you’ve seenOnly exit your vehicle to render aid if it is safe to do soYour clearheaded actions to safely assist or protect the victims until emergency assistance arrives can make an enormous difference in the overall outcome.

Being in an accident might be stressful, but GEICO Mobile makes the claims process easy. Download it today in the App Store or Google Play.

By Stephanie Levis

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    Leave a comment

  1. Peggy says,

    Yes ago I witnessed a pedestrian stuck on a busy street n Denver. I was visiting a friend there at the time. I waited to provide a statement to the Denver PD. I wrote one up for them. The accident investigator read it and could tell I had some law enforcement training. The driver of the vehicle was definately at fault, speeding, and inattentiveness contributed to the accident. I was a rather harrowing scene to witness.

  2. Alex Morris says,

    Depending on your location, it’s actually illegal to move a vehicle after an accident until the police arrive and do their investigation. They NEED to see where the car(s) stopped. If you move cars around and there isn’t tire marks on the ground, it can greatly affect the investigation. Even if you weren’t the one that caused the accident, they might determine that you were.

    When my mom was T-Boned here, there was thick traffic, and people were honking at her. The other party that hit her told her to move her car across the street. The Tow truck driver showed up before the Police and yelled at them for illegally moving the vehicles before police had arrived. Once they did, the other driver changed their story.

    Also when my mom moved her car, it caused more damage to her vehicle since the engine oil had drained on the road. She couldn’t have put it in Neutral and pushed safely since it was a 4 lane road, again with thick traffic.


    DO NOT MOVE YOUR VEHICLE. Unless it’s on a highway, or there’s less than $500 worth of damage. If there’s over $500 worth of damage, we are required to call the police. It’s not hard to get $500 worth of damage even from a minor accident.

  3. Erich Loehr says,

    Call for help wait for 911 or law enforcement keep person awake until help arrives and law enforcement has it or tells u u can leave

  4. Ken Arnold says,

    Perhaps in this age of smart phones, immediately taking pictures of how the cars settled into their positions would be good, too. This is especially true if they have to quickly be moved to minimize blocked traffic, etc. — or if a car owner merely moves the car.

    Having an “original picture” of the accident scene could prove helpful should there be any legal disputes about who caused what…

  5. Gerald Mosior says,

    Very outstanding information for any future problems like this. Very, very, educational. This e-mail is greatly appreciated.

    Thank You!!!!

  6. Ramon Pina says,

    I thing that’s very good information,you never know some day i can use now i know what i must to do.

  7. Kevin B says,

    Thanks for the info! I love that Geico provides helpful information like this and the printed materials too. Another view from the point of being IN the crash would help and also mentioned here is a checklist. Thanks for your support!

  8. Angela Ensalaco says,

    Good rule of thumb as a witness … Do not discuss the accident with anyone except the police. If you discuss it with others you increase the chances of stories being changed due to the influence of what others say.

    Another tip that should be included is to never start yelling or belittling the other driver. If one of the drivers is a teenager try to make sure no one tries to intimidates them into believing they are at fault. Their youth causes aggressive adults to start blaming the teenager when at times it is actually the arrogance of the adult that has caused the accident.

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