Handling Emergency Traffic Incidents by Motorists

While you should observe road safety and drive responsibly at all times, you may unfortunately encounter one or two traffic incidents that can put you at a loss. Here you can learn what to do when such incidents happen to you.

Main Causes of Traffic Accidents

Some of the common causes of traffic accidents are:

  • following too closely to the vehicle in front
  • speeding
  • losing control of vehicle
  • careless lane changing
  • improper or illegal turn
  • starting negligently

When Your Vehicle Breaks Down

  • Get your vehicle, passengers and yourself off the roadway and onto any hard shoulder or hard strip if possible.
  • Switch on your hazard warning lights to warn other drivers.
  • Leave your vehicle only if you consider you can safely get clear of the carriageway.  If in doubt, remain in your vehicle wearing a seat belt until the emergency services arrive.
  • Call for assistance as soon as possible.
More on what to do when your vehicle breaks downMore on warning other drivers

When You are Involved in a Traffic Accident

  • You must stop your vehicle if you are involved in a traffic accident.
  • If a person is killed or seriously injured, or there is serious damage, do not move or interfere with your vehicle without the permission of a Police Officer.  You may move your vehicle to a safe location nearby if no one is killed or seriously injured or there is no serious damage. 
  • If an accident involves a vehicle containing dangerous goods, keep well away from the vehicle except to save life.
  • Put out lighted cigarettes or other fire hazards, switch off your engine and check for any petrol or gas tank leaking to prevent fire.
  • Send someone to make an emergency call for police, fire and ambulance services.
  • For those without first aid training, it’s better to wait until medical help arrives except that further danger threatens. Check out the links below for more advice.
More on handling traffic accidentsMore on handling emergency situationsHow to help injured people when you have no first aid training

When You are on the Expressway

  • Do not stop unless in a real emergency. Even for a deflated tyre or rattling noise of the engine, you should still drive on slowly to a safer place.
  • If your vehicle is forced to stay on an expressway, move your car to a full-width hard shoulder or the left side of the road.
  • Avoid staying in your car while awaiting assistance. Try to find refuge behind crash barriers, and stay away from the carriageway or hard shoulder.
  • Call for assistance as soon as possible.  You can identify the location by making reference to the route number and chainage marker.
More on emergency stopping on expresswaysRegulations on expresswaysMore on strategic route, exit number and chainage marker system

When You are in the Tunnel

  • Switch off the engine, leave the key in the ignition.
  • Switch on the hazard warning lights.
  • Leave the vehicle when it is safe to do so. Caution should be taken to moving traffic on other lanes.
  • Inform the tunnel control room by emergency telephone inside the tunnel.
  • In case of fire, activate the break glass fire alarm and try to use the fire extinguisher placed at the side of the tunnel tube. Stay away from the direction of smoke and exercise caution to the moving traffic.
More on handling incidents in the tunnel

Claiming Compensation if You are a Traffic Accident Victim

You have the right to claim compensation if you suffer bodily injury due to the negligence of a motorist. If you suffer fatal injury, your dependents are also entitled to claim compensation. 

Claims should be made against the vehicle owner or the driver, or directly from the insurer of the vehicle. All accidents involving bodily injuries must be reported to the Police to secure a claim.

More on the right to claim

The Traffic Accident Victims Assistance (TAVA) Scheme is administered by the Social Welfare Department, which provides speedy financial assistance for road traffic accident victims (or to their dependants in cases of death). It is non-means tested and does not take into account the element of fault leading to the accident.

More on the TAVA Scheme

The Last Word: Play Safe

Accidents can happen due to slight indifference to road safety. Therefore, awareness of road safety and staying vigilant when using the road is always important. You can go over the comprehensive road safety tips on the link below.

Road safety tips
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Last revision date: March 2021