Unfortunately, accidents happen on South African roads. As a responsible driver, you need to know the signs that show you are coming up to the scene of a crash and what your responsibilities are if you're involved in a crash or if you come across a crash.
At a crash site the police may use signs, flashing lights and flares to warn approaching drivers. When coming up to a crash site, slow down and drive carefully. The road may be blocked and there could be injured people lying on it.
The triangle shown below is a warning triangle. It means there is a breakdown or crash ahead. Anyone can put a warning triangle on the side of the road to warn other road users.
All commercial vehicles, trailers, bakkies, trucks, buses and caravans must carry at least one red warning triangle at all times. If the vehicle is broken down or stationary on a public road, the triangle must be displayed at least 45 metres from the rear of the vehicle to warn approaching traffic.
If you are involved in an accident while driving, and you are not badly injured, the first thing you must do is stop, check to see if anyone is injured, and provide assistance to the injured where possible.
If you are first on the scene of a crash, your actions could help save the lives of the people involved in the crash and make it safer for other drivers coming upon the crash scene.
In the event of an accident, you should
If people have been injured in the crash, you should call an ambulance as soon as you can.Important: Dial 10111 for emergency services or 112 from mobile phones.
Ideally, you should enrol in a recognised first aid course so you can learn techniques such as cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation under proper supervision. This will make you confident and capable of using first aid if you have to.
If a victim has spinal injuries, moving them may only worsen their injuries. You should never move a collision victim unless it is absolutely necessary.
The only instances where you should move someone before medical help arrives are when
If the patient is bleeding badly, you should try to stop or reduce the bleeding:
If you come across a crash involving a vehicle that is carrying dangerous goods, you will need to be extremely careful. Never make a rescue attempt unless you are sure you are not endangering yourself by coming into contact with dangerous substances.
Vehicles carrying dangerous goods must display a placard that indicates the type of dangerous substance being carried. Some of the most common placards are shown here. You should familiarise yourself with these placards and what they mean.
Make a careful note of the colour and symbol on the placard and give this information to the emergency services when phoning to report a crash and when they arrive at the crash site. Keep bystanders well away from the crash scene and upwind of poisonous fumes.