Involved in an accident? Here’s what you can do

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Bike riders suddenly ‘appearing’ in front of your car or bike from nowhere, an autorickshaw switching lanes without signalling, jaywalking on busy roads -- Indian roads have it all. With a lot of adventurous motorists on the road, accidents are pretty common.

Needless to say, an accident could mean being left crippled of loss of life. The risk factor for two-wheeler riders is obviously higher. It is alarming to know that there around 400 fatalities every single day in India.

There is no guarantee of reaching the destination unscathed even after following safe driving practices, thanks to another motorist’s carelessness.

In the unfortunate event of being involved in an accident, there are some things to keep in mind in order to settle things without chaos and arguments.

The worst thing to do is to speed away from the accident spot, particularly if you are responsible for causing it. People might do so out of fear of being manhandled by mobs or just to try and escape, but it is never going to help. The victim and police will only have a stronger case against the person causing it. Even if one gets into a situation when a mob is trying to rough you up and you have to get out of that place, the accident should be reported at the nearest police station.

The second point to note is that one should remain calm and not get agitated, even if the other person is at fault. It is common to see heated arguments or even fights after accidents. Again, getting into an argument or a fight is not going to help anybody. The best thing to do is to stay calm, move accident vehicles to one side and talk things out, preferably with a traffic policeman present. It is a good idea to call a policeman immediately.

If the accident is not serious and there are no injuries to anyone, the policeman might even suggest that the matter be discussed and closed right there. The fact is that court cases could drag on for a long time. If a settlement is made on the spot and you are paying for damage to the other vehicle, getting a written acknowledgement is advised. This is for your safety, should the other party file a case after collecting money.

If vehicles involved in an accident cannot be moved, the safe practice is to keep a warning triangle or any such indication that an accident has occurred. If the accident has happened just after a blind spot, some sort of warning becomes even more crucial.

If there is serious injury to anyone, an ambulance should be called at once. A lot of passers-by hesitate to offer help or call an ambulance for fear of getting involved in a legal case as a witness or being harassed by the police. In March 2016, the Supreme Court brought into effect the ‘good samaritan law’ to legally protect anyone who helps an accident victim. The victim needs to be helped immediately, particularly if there is heavy bleeding. There have been instances where onlookers take pictures and record videos of the victims, but do nothing to help. Doing so is in very poor taste and there is nothing to be gained out of filming an injured person.

If there are no injuries, taking pictures of the damaged cars/ bikes and the accident spot will help in clearing things up especially if you are not at fault.

If it is a hit-and-run case, always try to note down the registration number of the vehicle trying to flee the scene.

It is mandatory by law to keep your diving licence, vehicle registration certificate, insurance, pollution under check certificate and other such documents while driving. Not having these documents while driving is an offence and things will get more complicated if you are involved in an accident.

The worst thing to do is driving after consumption of alcohol. Even if it is the other person’s fault, you will end up in big trouble with the police and law. The same goes for talking or texting on the mobile phone while driving. Both acts are asking for big trouble.

Low fines for traffic offences have encouraged people to break rules. However, the Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill 2017 was passed in the Lok Sabha and has proposed stiffer fines for traffic offences. However, this is yet to be implemented.

There are on-dash cameras that can be fitted to the dashboard of a car. Smartphone apps that can record the journey can also be downloaded. Recording your journey might help if you are the victim of an accident. This is provided the video clearly shows what happened and there is no abrupt stoppage of the video.

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Involved in an accident? Here’s what you can do

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