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What to Do if You Witness a Car Accident

Here are quick tips for you if you just witnessed a crash, and are googling this on your phone:

Take a deep breath.

Right after witnessing a crash 

Wherever you are, make sure you are safe – maybe you’ve pulled over to the side of the road.

Depending on the severity of what you just witnessed, your adrenaline is likely spiked.

Before you make a move to help, take a few deep breaths, and assess the safety of the situation.

Be aware, many witnesses have been severely injured or lost their life in a bid to render aid. By becoming so laser focused on helping others, they don’t see a car moving around the scene of the accident. The person behind the wheel of that car is usually rubbernecking – and consequently, the witness gets hit: severely injured or killed. 

After you’ve centered and calmed yourself, here’s what you should do: 

  • Call 911
  • If it’s SAFE, check on the parties
  • Remain on scene to give your report as a witness

In today’s world where everyone has a cell phone, it’s easy to assume that someone else has called 911. When everyone assumes this, no one calls.

So, call. The dispatcher will let you know if they already have the necessary information.

Depending on the severity of what you just witnessed, you may feel apprehensive about checking on the welfare of those involved.

If you feel comfortable doing so, check on them.

Chances are others may be doing the same thing. Offer your assistance; sometimes just being there for someone else is more than enough. Having a compassionate caring presence from another human being while waiting for the paramedics is extremely powerful and reassuring.

Even if you’re unsure about what to do, being there for someone else is huge. If someone with medical training also witnessed the accident, they will likely spring into action. Allow them to give direction as to what is needed, which may be just waiting on scene to provide a statement of what you witnessed. 

If the car that caused the accident fled the scene, remember the details to the best of your ability. Even if you don’t memorize the full plate, any of the letter number combo that you are able to retain is better than nothing. 

Same goes for make, model, color of the vehicle, dents or other damage, bumper stickers, and other distinguishing characteristics.

If you’re able to, you can use your smartphone’s voice recording app to quickly record what you saw.

When providing your statement to the authorities, give the details of what you saw happen. If there’s anything you are unclear about, that’s ok. Just let the person you’re giving the information to know. 

Do not exaggerate or embellish.

Someone else may have witnessed something you missed, and the crash investigation is based on statements from all the witnesses, skid marks, vehicle resting positions, and other factors.

If you can, provide the victim with your name and contact info. They may have other questions to ask that they weren’t able to while on the scene.

Being Prepared

Many people go through life blissfully ignorant about the realities of what can hurt them, until they witness or experience it themselves. 

Depending on the severity of what you saw, it may change how you perceive driving; you may feel a little more trepidation every time you get behind the wheel. 

If you want to be better prepared in the future, here are some ways to do so – including precautionary measures you can take.

Ensure you’re prepared by:

  1. Taking a CPR class, and keeping a first aid kit in your vehicle, tucked away somewhere that’s easily accessible. You can also keep flares on hand that can be used to get the attention of other drivers and divert them around the scene – again, only if it’s SAFE to do so.
  1. Research car accident attorneys. Here’s the thing with all of this, it’s better to have them and not need them, then to have to scramble or go without one in a pinch. 

Many car accident victims have added insult to injury through financial loss and other life-diminishing ways after being injured and traumatized from an accident. 

If you’re unsure how to go about finding a good attorney, here’s some valuable insight into what to look for.


Witnessing an accident can be scary and traumatic. Do your best to stay calm – remember you’ll be working against a heavy dose of adrenaline – and above all, don’t forget: safety first.








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