Thousands of truck accidents occur on America’s roads every year, around 4,000 of which are fatal.
If you saw one, would you know what to do? Would you carry on driving and regret it later, stop and try to help, or simply panic in the moment?
In this post, we’ll give you a rundown, so you know exactly how to handle the situation if it happens to you.
Read on for our guide on how to conduct yourself as a witness to a semi truck accident.
Steps to Take if You See a Truck Accident
A road accident can be a scary, even traumatizing experience. Here’s what you should do if you come across one.
1. Find a Safe Place to Stop
Your first instinct might be to immediately stop and get out of your car. Don’t rush to make that mistake.
If you do this, you can end up causing another accident.
Instead, pull over to the side of the road in a safe place. When you do, make sure your car is at least 100 feet from the accident. Otherwise, you could be putting yourself in the way of flames, broken glass, and other traffic.
Before exiting your vehicle, you should also be sure to put on your hazard lights to alert other drivers.
2. Stay at the Scene
It’s understandable that you might not be able to stop and help, but stick around if you can.
Your presence and assistance can be far more valuable than you realize. If you’re the first person at the scene, wait around until more help arrives. The victims are likely to be in shock, and knowing that you’re there will provide comfort and reassurance.
2. Call 911
It’s easy to think that someone else has already called emergency services.
You should never assume this. In all likelihood, others are assuming the same thing and you’re all unknowingly waiting for people who haven’t even been notified of the accident.
Take the initiative and call 911 as soon as possible. When people have been injured, every second counts.
Although you’re likely to be shaken up, try to remain as calm as possible during the call. The operator will need you to clearly relay the location and details of the accident to them. That way, they can get the right professionals to the scene as quickly as possible.
3. Approach with Caution
You should never just run directly towards a truck accident to see what’s going on. If you do, you could end up being part of it yourself, or even causing further damage.
Stop, assess the situation and make sure it’s safe to proceed before you attempt anything else. Other drivers may not see you, and leaking fuel may pose a fire hazard. While you may want to rush in like a hero, it’s not always smart to do so.
No matter how concerned you are for the victims, treat carefully and remember to take care of your own safety, too.
4. Talk to the Victims
Once you know it’s safe to move in closer, you can check on the people who are involved in the accident.
Check for both drivers and passengers, finding out how many people there are and what kind of condition they’re in.
If the driver is still conscious and able to move, ask them to stabilize the vehicle by putting it in ‘park’, pulling the handbrake and switching off the ignition. If not, you may be able to reach into the truck and do this yourself. This will help eliminate the risk of a fire breaking out and keep the vehicle safely in place.
Never attempt to move any of the victims. Although you’re trying to help, you could end up making their injuries worse if you do so. This could land you with a civil liability lawsuit, in which case you’ll have to find a lawyer.
The only instance in which it’s recommended to move the victims of a semi accident is if there is a risk of fire. Otherwise, leave them where they are and comfort them by letting them know that they’re ok, you’re there to help, and that emergency services are on the way.
5. Provide a Statement
As a witness, your perspective is extremely valuable to police and first responders. They’ll ask you to tell them everything you can about what you saw and how you helped. You might have to provide your contact information, too.
This isn’t the only time you may have to give a statement. Later down the line, you may also be contacted by police detectives or insurance agents who are investigating the victim’s claims for compensation.
If this happens, it’s important that you give a clear and honest account of what happened. As time goes on, this can be more difficult to do because the details won’t be as fresh in your mind. For this purpose, it’s a good idea to take notes or make a recording that you can refer to at a later date.
6. Take Care of Yourself
You don’t have to be directly involved in a road accident to be affected by it. Simply witnessing one can be a difficult experience.
In particularly serious cases, witnesses may experience some level of trauma. The events of the day can stay with you long after they’ve occurred, causing you stress and anxiety. That’s why it’s important you take time out to wind down afterward and practice self-care.
Risks on the Road
No matter how safely you drive or how clean your record is, there’s always a chance that something could go wrong.
In the blink of an eye, you could find yourself involved in a truck accident or a car crash.
There are some factors which increase your risks, though. One of them is age. In fact, statistics show that older drivers are more likely to be involved in traffic accidents. To find out why read our post on senior citizens and car accidents.