What are the legal requirements in case of road traffic accidents?

Being in an accident is something we all dread as road users. However, many road users really do not understand what the law really requires of them in the event that they are involved in a crash. So here is a clarification on the legislative measure that affects those affected by a traffic accident and what may be the implications.

The law on road traffic accidents

Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 states:

If due to the presence of a motor vehicle on a road, injuries or damage are caused to a third person or to an animal (horse, cattle, donkey, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog), then the drivers concerned must

  • stop
  • exchange the names and addresses of vehicle drivers,
  • exchange the names and addresses of vehicle owners,
  • exchange details of registration marks
  • in the event of an injury, present a valid insurance or safety certificate to anyone who has reasonable grounds to require such documents.

If the law is not followed, drivers must report it to a police station or a police officer as soon as reasonably possible, no later than 24 hours after the accident.

What does this mean in practice?

While the obligation to stop is very obvious and common sense, one should consider the possibility that sometimes a driver may not know that he has been involved in an accident, for example a heavy truck driver whose trailer hits a car parked while turning or maneuvering without him noticing or a motorcyclist rubbing against a car while filtering without realizing it may have caused a little damage.

You must stop, even if there is no one around you. The law also states that you must stop and wait a reasonable amount of time.

When everyone involved stops, it is reasonable and logical to communicate the name of all the drivers involved. However, the identity of the driver may be different from the vehicle owner or registered holder, for example, it may be a business or a rental car. This is why it is important to provide these two pieces of information.

Vehicle identification

The registration mark identifies each vehicle and it is important to record this information.

It is not only advisable to write down the registration number, but also to take a photo of the registration plate and the vehicle as a whole.

Provision of insurance details

The law is quite specific in that it states that a valid certificate of insurance or other guarantee should only be produced in the event that damage has occurred and the parties concerned know that there has been a damage at the time of the accident.

However, if someone has been injured, the law states that the details of the insurance must be disclosed to anyone who has reasonable grounds to demand those details.

Who can be considered a person with "reasonable grounds"?

If one of the victims is injured and may be unconscious or unable to exchange details, a member of the public may volunteer to accompany the injured person in the ambulance to the hospital and may ask the third-party driver for details. his assurance that he will then pass on to the injured person upon arrival at the hospital. He must also communicate his name and address to the victim so that they can prove that they are in compliance with the regulations.

The role of the police in traffic accidents

When there is a serious victim as in the previous example, the police are present in 99% of cases and deal with these problems themselves.

Furthermore, if you cannot comply with legal requirements at the time of the accident, you must report it to a gendarme or a police station as soon as possible, but in any case within 24 hours of the accident.

It is not necessary to report to the police station in the area where the accident occurred. If you go to a more remote police station, details will be recorded and forwarded to the police station in the area where the accident occurred. However, if you pass several police stations on your route but ignore them, you will not have met the "as soon as possible" requirements.

It is also mandatory that you go in person to your local station to produce your driving documents.

Traffic offenses

What are the potential penalties you might consider if you are found guilty of not stopping after an accident and / or failing to report an accident?

The penalty can be quite harsh. The courts take this offense very seriously and can impose sentences of up to 6 months imprisonment, a fine of which the amount is not capped and a discretionary disqualification and between 5 and 10 points, which adds up to any other potential driving offense that could have been committed as dangerous or reckless driving.

So, if you are involved in a traffic accident, be sure to stop and exchange all details and if you cannot, cover yourself up and report it to the police as soon as possible. Then contact a specialist lawyer in Rights and Responsibilities.

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