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Seven Simple Rules that Form an Invariable—

5th August 1955, Page 52
5th August 1955
Page 52
Page 52, 5th August 1955 — Seven Simple Rules that Form an Invariable—
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

Accident DRILL

By Our Legal Adviser

IT is astonishing how many people fail to do the correct thing upon being involved in an accident, and in this connection it is important to remember that there are two distinct duties involved—one's duty as laid down in the Road Traffic Act, 1930, and (certainly not less important) one's duty to oneself or one's employer from the aspect of

civil liability. .

A scheme of investigation into accidents by transpart managers was set out in The Commercial Motor on April 29. My purpose is to prescribe an "accident drill" to be followed by drivers on the spot. The two articles together will provide most of the information needed in dealing with mishaps and minimizing their unfortunate consequences.

The relevant duties of the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident are laid down in Sections 22 and 40 of the Act and, briefly, they are threefold and consist of stopping one's vehicle; giving one's particulars at the scene of the accident; and reporting the accident to the police. Not all 'he requirements, however, are applicable in each case.

First, as regards the necessity of stopping, this is obligatory wherever "owing to the presence of a motor vehicle on a road, an accident occurs whereby damage or injury is caused to any person, vehicle or animal." It should be noted that the Section does not say "where a motor vehicle hits anything" or words to that effect, and it seems likely that if, for example, another vehicle is damaged in avoiding a collision with one's own, then as the damage is "owing to the presence of" the latter, one is as much under the duty to stop as if there had in fact been a collision.

This point arose strongly in a recent case (The Commercial Motor, May 6) in which a passenger fell and was injured in alighting from a moving bus. Lord Goddard, in the Queen's Bench Division, said it was "impossible for the court to say that the accident did not happen owing to the presence of a motor vehicle on the road."

" Animal " is defined as including any horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog. A notable absentee is a cat.

The other vehicle involved need not, of course, be a motor vehicle, and it has been held that a bicycle is a vehicle. To " stop " means to stop at once, immediately to do so even if the " damage " is believed to be very small, although it has been held that a driver cannot be convicted of failing to stop where he proves to the satisfaction of the court that he was unaware that an accident had occurred. There is no obligation to stop where the damage is to, say, a wall.

Secondly, having stopped. and if asked to do so by anyone at the scene having reasonable grounds for asking for them, the driver must give his name and address and that of the owner of the vehicle, if it is not his own, and its identification marks. A person may still be the " driver " of a vehicle and so liable to give these particulars even if the vehicle was stationary at the time of the accident. A further requirement* where personal injury. has resulted is to show one's certificate of insurance to anyone at the scene with a reasonable ground for asking to see it. Thirdly, if the driver does not give his particulars in the manner already described, he is under an obligation to do so by reporting the circumstances of the accident either to a policeman or to. a police station within 24 hours. He must do this whether he has already committed an offence by refusing his particulars at the scene, or whether he was not asked for them, or whether there was nobody present to ask for them.

However, he is under no obligation to report to the police where he has already given them at the scene of the accident, but if personal injury has resulted and he has not produced his certificate of insurance, he must report the accident to them and produce the certificate— subject to -a period of five days' grace for the latter.

So much for one's statutory obligations. The proper and sensible sequence of events and action to be taken by any driver involved in an accident should, it is suggested, be as follows, It will be seen that this involves not only the fulfilment of the letter of the law but also the protection of one's own (or one's employer's) interests.

(1) Stop at once, unless the accident has already brought you to a halt. If in doubt whether you are involved stop as a precaution.

(2) Take the names and addresses of witnesses, for which you will have to move very quickly, as within seconds they may have gone. Remember that it does not follow that the " eager " witness ;s necessarily the best—he may not have seen anything, but take his name, just in case.

(3) Do not move—or allow to be moved—any vehicle involved until you have noted its position in relation to: (a) any other vehicle; (b) the sides of the road; (c) any important road feature such as signs, the white line, side turnings, traffic lights, etc. If you have nothing to measure accurately with, pace the distances or mark the road positions and measure later.

(4) Give your own particulars if asked for them, and get the same from other drivers involved. Failing this, report to the police within 24 hours.

(5) Note the damage to the vehicles involved and note such items as condition of tyres, whether lights working if at night, how many passengers, and so on.

(6) Note the weather and surface conditions and draw a rough sketch of the scene—this will not be evidence directly but will help to place the picture in your mind, (7) Do not make any admission of liability whatever. If you consider the other driver at fault, tell him so at the first opportunity.

Clearly, different considerations may vary this programme. If the other driver looks like "hitting and running" the first essential is to identify his vehicle. If persons are injured, get help at once, and if the police give instructions to move any vehicle, they must be obeyed, Nevertheless, a broad adherence to its principles, if not its sequence, is certain to avoid much subsequent trouble:


Organisations: Queen's Bench Division

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