If you drive regularly, the statistics suggests that sooner or later, you will be involved in an accident. The only question left is how severe will the accident be. Hopefully, with a bit defensive driving and due care on your part, it will be nothing more than the inconvenience of a fender bender.
With that in mind, every driver should at least equip themselves with the dos and don’ts of what to do after being involved in an accident.
Of course, the biggest ‘do’ here is to learn and equip yourself with defensive driving techniques that could help you avoid an accident in the first place. Read your vehicle’s owner’s manual, familiarize yourself with the different safety features in your vehicle and how to best use them.
Having taken all the necessary precautions, if you still do get involved in an accident, here’s a quick list of dos and don’ts:
1. Your safety is the top priority
It is a myth that you must not move your vehicle after you have met with an accident, as leaving your car in a dangerous position puts you and other road users at risk. If it’s still possible to move your vehicle, park it at the road shoulder, keep the hazard lights on, and put up a safety triangle. Avoid parking right after a corner. Walk to somewhere safe and away from passing traffic, preferably behind some form of barrier between you and passing traffic.
2. Exchange details
If it’s safe to do so, note down the details of the other vehicle(s). Note down the time, date, and location of the accident, as well the vehicle details, driver’s license, and road tax expiration date of the other party/parties. Do consider investing in a good quality digital video recorder. They are not admissible in court (yet), but they can be useful in supporting your argument later on.
You can also snap photos of the affected vehicles, but do avoid taking photos of the other driver(s) to avoid aggravating the situation any further.
If the other party/parties are behaving in a threatening manner, it is OK to go ahead to make your police report with only the number plate of the vehicle(s) involved.
Tow trucks are always on the lookout for accident-hit vehicles and can be remarkably fast to an accident scene. The unscrupulous ones will use all sorts of scare tactics to pressure you into using their services, but stay calm and avoid signing any documents or passing the keys of your vehicle to them.
Call the hotline of your own roadside assistance programme, and ask for the number plate of the appointed tow truck that is assigned to you. Wait for your appointed tow truck to arrive.
4. Making a police report
Depending on the severity of the damage, you can decide to either pay for the repairs yourself to avoid losing any No Claims Discounts (NCD) or to file for an insurance claim. Either way, it is recommended that you make a police report to avoid the other party from accusing you of something else.
For the uninitiated, the NCD is a discount for yearly insurance premium progressively-awarded to motorists that manage to avoid making claims on their policy. The rate starts at 25% after the first year without incident and rises to a maximum of 55% at the end of the fifth year. With each claim, your NCD is lost and you will have to earn it from scratch again. In deciding to make your claims, weigh the cost of losing your NCD against the cost of your repairs. Your NCD is not affected, however, when you make a third-party claim against the other vehicle’s insurance. Your NCD can be transferred between any vehicles registered under your name, but it does not follow your vehicle if and when you decide to sell it.
Below are the steps to make a police report. If you would like to get a copy of the police report, you will be charged a small fee. An investigation report will be completed in about a week or two. If you are found to be guilty, barring any serious offences, you will also have to pay a RM300 fine.
Apart from these steps, drivers should also review their motor insurance and compare the benefits provided.
Insurance providers like Allianz for example, offer a very comprehensive roadside assistance program (Allianz Enhanced Road Warrior) that provides benefits like 24-hour unlimited towing distance, arrangements for a replacement car and hotel accommodation, covering not just Malaysia but also Thailand and Singapore.