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No matter if it's a major vehicle accident or a scratched bumper bar, there are strict rules about what to do after a traffic mishap.
Wolfgang Mueller

16 Aug 2017 - 10:18 AM  UPDATED 18 Aug 2017 - 5:59 PM

Screeching tyres and the frightening noise of braking glass and metal – that’s how African migrant Juma Abdallah remembers his recent car accident on a busy Sydney intersection.

“I was coming to an intersection where I was supposed to turn right to go against oncoming traffic. So I slowed down and had a look, just to make sure there was no oncoming car. But suddenly - in a second - another car, driven by a P plater was coming and he drove straight into the front of my car.”

Juma Abdallah says the unexpected smash was a shock and it took some time to regain his composure. Fortunately nobody was injured and both drivers stopped by the side of the road.

“My car couldn’t move and even his car couldn’t move. We exchanged our details. Everyone had to call for support. We talking about a tow.” - Juma Abdallah

This is exactly what needs to happen after all road accidents – big or small – says Chief Inspector Phillip Brooks from the NSW Police Force, Traffic and Highway Command.

“They need to pull over to the side of the road where it’s safe to do so. The primary mission is to exchange details with the other driver and with the advent of mobile phones, take photos of the damage and the driver’s licence of the other person and then contact your insurance company.”

In addition to exchanging details with other drivers, there are other important steps which have to be taken after an accident, says Chief Inspector Phillip Brooks,particularly if it’s a serious smash.

He says it’s essential to check on the welfare of all drivers and passengers and provide basic first aid or call for emergency medical help if needed.

“Ring Triple-Zero and ask for an ambulance. If you ring Triple-Zero the police will also attend if you ask for police attendance. Police will investigate the crash, take statements from the drivers and prosecute if necessary.” - Chief Inspector Phillip Brooks, NSW Police Force, Traffic and Highway Command

Lastly but importantly, it will help later with filing an injury or insurance claim, if witnesses who can verify the facts of the incident, can be identified and their contact details noted. However, not all traffic collisions happen in broad daylight or involve other drivers directly. But the road laws still apply.Jason Liu who migrated from China to Australia, was recently also involved in such a traffic mishap. He says that at the time of the incident, he was still on his Chinese driving license and had not yet got fully used to driving on the left side of the road.

“I went to an event and wanted to reverse park my car. It was a very narrow road and I didn’t see the other car parked there. And, yes, I hit the other car, the right front of the car. Not so seriously but it was damaged. I waited for about 4 to 5 minutes and then I left a note and my phone number and my home address and of course my car’s plate number and the phone number.”

Though it was night and nobody had witnessed the collision, Jason says that it never crossed his mind to just leave the scene without identifying himself.

“If you just go away, it’s totally unfair to the other party, totally unfair.”

It is not only unfair, it is also a criminal offence under Australian law to walk away from the scene of an accident without leaving some contact details behind.

"Drivers who fail to fulfil their legal duties after an accident can be subject to serious charges for breaking the road laws." - Chief Inspector Phillip Brooks

“Investigations take some considerable time and if appropriate, the police will obviously prosecute.”

Meanwhile, the owner of the car which Jason had damaged appreciated his honesty.

“The next morning, the other driver contacted me. He said could I please provide him with some information about my car rental company, so I emailed all the information to him. Later that morning I returned the car back to my car rental company.”

Actions taken following a crash are important and smartphones offer useful apps to take control of gathering the necessary information to document what happened. Some apps provide a listing of what to record at a crash scene and offer tools to make the job easier. Not all of the accident apps are free but nevertheless, useful to have in an accident. As a backup, it’s wise and good management to keep pen and paper in the glove box and get the relevant accident information down in a more traditional manner…but most importantly - drive safely!

Settlement Guide: What to do if you’re involved in a car accident
There are strict rules to follow in Australia in the case of a road accident, whether it’s a big car crash or just a small fender-bender.