Accidents & Emergencies

What to do if you are involved in an accident

An accident occurs when you have:

  • Damaged the road or highway
  • Damaged property belonging to a third party
  • Caused an injury to anyone other than yourself
  • Damaged another vehicle or another vehicle has damaged yours.

If you are involved in an accident, no matter how small it may appear to be, the following procedure must be adhered to:

  1. Stop and give your name and address plus the registration number of your vehicle, together with the name and address of its owner to any person having reasonable grounds to request such information.
  2. Report the accident to a police officer or police station as soon as is reasonably possible, and always within 24 hours of the accident.
  3. Report the accident to your Driver Hire office immediately.
  4. Report the accident to the client immediately.
  5. Warn other traffic by using your hazard warning lights and/or a red warning triangle.
  6. Never, in any way, admit liability.
  7. Always keep your head (and your temper).

Obtaining Details

You are only required to give your name and address if you are involved in an accident. Don’t admit liability. However, if you’re asked direct questions by the police about the cause of the accident, take a moment to gather your thoughts so you are able to give a clear picture of what has happened.

Where possible, obtain the following information from any other people involved:

  • The names and addresses of the driver(s) or vehicle owner(s)
  • Registration number(s) of any other vehicles involved in the accident
  • The names and addresses of any witnesses
  • The number of any police officer present
  • Details of the insurance companies of any other vehicle involved
  • Details of the accident itself such as;
    • A list of the damage caused
    • Damage/defects already on vehicle before accident
    • Registration number and vehicle make
    • Condition of tyres
    • Speed of vehicle
    • Was vehicle signalling?
    • Any injuries to driver or passengers
    • The position of any other vehicles involved, the width of the road, the position of any road markings or traffic signs etc
    • Try to draw a sketch to illustrate these points.

Write down the following information about yourself and the vehicle you were driving:

  1. Your name
  2. Date of birth
  3. Date passed test
  4. Vehicle registration
  5. Trailer number (if applicable)
  6. Damage to your vehicle
  7. Speed at which you were travelling
  8. Were you signalling?
  9. Did you sound your horn?
  10. Date, time, place of accident
  11. Weather conditions
  12. Street lighting
  13. Witnesses
  14. Make a sketch (to include road markings, signs, measurements and vehicle positions etc.).


Reporting the Accident

If you are involved in an accident that causes an injury or damage to property, you must report it to the correct authorities. The criteria for such accidents are any that involve:

  • Anyone other than yourself
  • An animal not carried in your vehicle
  • A vehicle other than the one that you are driving
  • Property on or adjacent to a road – e.g. trees, pillar boxes, lamp-posts etc.


Accidents involving Dangerous Substances

If there is a traffic accident involving dangerous substances, the ADR-Certified driver will be the person most qualified to deal with the situation until the arrival of the emergency services. Two of the most likely possible scenarios are fire and the release of hazardous substances.


There are three ingredients for fire:

  • Oxygen
  • Fuel
  • Ignition produced by heat from sparks, cigarettes, overheated tyres & brakes, static electrical charge, faulty wiring and naked flames.

All fires are extinguished by removing one of the three elements listed above.

All ADR vehicles in the UK must be equipped with one extinguisher of at least 2kg dry powder for cab fires and one extinguisher of at least 6kg dry powder suitable for dealing with fires in the load.

Dealing with Fire

  1. Remember your own safety.
  2. React quickly and logically.
  3. Assess the situation. Tackle the fire only if it is safe to do so.
  4. Remember the three elements of fire. Try to remove one of them from the equation.
  5. Never fight a fire involving aerosols, cylinders etc. as they may explode.
  6. Always move people away from the immediate area.


Preventing Fire

  1. Check your vehicle regularly. Poor maintenance or minor defects may cause a fire.
  2. Keep your vehicle rubbish-free.
  3. Remove all sources of ignition such as lighters, matches etc..
  4. Follow operating procedures.
  5. Avoid loading flammables and ‘oxygen providers’ (organic peroxides, oxidising agents etc.) in the same load.


Release of Dangerous Substances

If the materials that you are carrying are released, always follow this procedure:

  1. Call the emergency services as soon as possible, giving detail of your load, the location etc. If possible, ask someone else to do this so that you can remain at the scene.
  2. Try to help anyone who is injured or in immediate danger.

If possible, also take the following actions:

  1. Move the vehicle to a place where the danger can be lessened, but only if it is safe to do so.
  2. Stop the engine.
  3. Remove any written information about the load from the vehicle’s cab in order to give both yourself and the emergency services useful advice.
  4. If safe to do so, turn off the battery-isolating switch (if fitted).
  5. Keep people away.
  6. Put on protective clothing.
  7. Keep all possible sources of ignition away from the scene of the accident – other vehicles etc. Stop people smoking.
  8. Put out a warning triangle behind the spillage or the vehicle.
  9. Try to contain the spillage.



  • Place yourself in danger. Protective equipment is not designed for use over long periods but to allow you to leave the danger area.
  • Tackle a large fire with a cab-extinguisher.
  • Enter a confined space if there is even the smallest possibility of a gas-build up.


When the Emergency Services arrive:

  1. Show them any written information about the substance.
  2. Tell them what you have already done.
  3. Tell them about anyone else involved who may need their help.
  4. Tell the client as soon as possible.
  5. Tell your Driver Hire office as soon as possible.



If possible, always manoeuvre the vehicle into a safe location to avoid causing an obstruction or an accident.

Inform the client of these details:

  • Your name
  • Cab-phone number (if fitted)
  • The vehicle’s position & location
  • Whether or not the vehicle is loaded
  • The remaining delivery points
  • The vehicle’s make, model and registration number
  • For tyre problems, state the make, type, size and position of the tyre
  • For tail-lifts, state the make and model
  • For windscreens, explain the scope of the damage
  • If the vehicle is totally inoperable, you will be advised as to how best to return to your base – train, bus, car, etc
  • If your breakdown is on a motorway, make sure that the police have been informed and keep them informed of any developments i.e. recovered/repaired

Further information is available on Breakdown Safety.