Do you know what to expect when you go to report your vehicle accident?
We know that we have to report the incident but are often unaware of the documentation to be completed and why it is so essential to make a full and complete disclosure.
Earlier this week my mom was involved in a typical “fender bender” accident in Oudtshoorn. She was in a parked position having just exited her parking bay when another elderly lady with a small bakkie drove into the back door of her car. Fortunately for her the damage is minimal and the other driver was most helpful in providing details. They even arrived simultaneously at the local Police station to report the accident.
But what if this is not the situation? What must I know about reporting an accident and which information should I gather?
We would like to discuss this topic on the Car Insurance Blog and provide advice to our vehicle owners.
Part 1 The basics of reporting an accident
In this first discussion we would like to reflect on information made available by the South African Police Services to both officers and the public.
What does the law require?
- A driver of a vehicle which has been involved in a road accident must report the accident within 24 Hours of its occurrence to any metropolitan, municipal or city police department, traffic department in South Africa or police station of the South African Police Service(SAPS).
- This must be done in terms of the National Road Traffic Act, Act 93 of 1996.
- A road accident must be reported in person. It may not be reported over the telephone or by a third party.
- A driver must present his/her driving licence when the accident is reported.
Completing the Official Accident Report
The official accident report is not a mere formality and deserves your full attention. This Report is important for insurance companies when you submit your claim as they will request this report in processing your claim.
- The official Accident Report (AR) Form will be completed for all accidents which occur on a public road and where a vehicle was involved, i.e all roads where the public or part of the public has right of access. This could include private property.
- The AR Form can/may be completed personally by a driver of a vehicle by a driver of a vehicle involved in an accident where no criminal case docket has been opened/registered, only if he /she is in condition to do so.
- A police official, traffic officer or other authorized person will be prepared to help the driver complete the form.
- An individual AR Form will be completed for each driver/pedestrian reporting an accident, irrespective of how many parties there are. This is to give everyone the opportunity to give their version of the accident.
Details in the Accident Report
- Every effort must be made to say exactly where the accident occurred, i.e the exact location. This is critical and of the utmost importance.
- It is essential that the information recorded on the AR Forum is an accurate reflection of the circumstances of the accident, and that the form is correctly completed.
- Once the AR Form has been completed, an entry will be made in the official Accident Register, Occurrence Book,etc at the Reporting Police Station.
- The driver / pedestrian will then be given an official reference number as proof that the accident has been reported…eg AR NR 13/12/2010
- A photocopy of the completed AR Form will only be given to the driver / pedestrian if there is a request in writing, and the request is accompanied by the payment of the prescribed fee.
View an example at the Arrive Alive website at Accident Report Form
When will a road accident be criminally investigated by the SAPS?
* when a person has been killed (culpable homicide),
* when a person has been seriously injured,
* when a vehicle of the SAPS has been involved in an accident or contributed to an accident,
* when it appears that a serious offence has been committed , and/or
* when there is a written complaint that a specific criminal offence(Section)(traffic-related or not), has been committed, and that such complaint is brought to the attention of a station commissioner of a SAPS police station.
A criminal offence is committed if a road accident is not reported, not reported within 24-hours of the occurrence or a drivers licence is not produced when the accident is reported, and a criminal prosecution could follow.