We asked experts what to do if you see a road accident
The rainy season has officially started, according to PAGASA. For motorists who ply our roads daily, the heavy downpour means decreased visibility and slippery, if not flooded roads.
Unfortunately, decreased visibility and slippery conditions are prime causes of disasters on the road. Combined with bad road manners by other drivers and you have a recipe for an accident. If you are a driver witnessing an accident as it is happening (like the one in the recent viral video on Skyway), what are you going to do?
We asked Skyway’s emergency response team what are the most prudent things do in the event you encounter a motorist who had a mishap and they gladly obliged. Mind you, all of these are up to your discretion. Prioritize your own safety in any incident you come upon.
1. Safely stop and activate your hazard lights
The sensible thing to do is find a safe place to stop. If the accident happens fairly close to you, the safest place to stop may be a little bit past the incident. If there's enough space between you and the accident, you may want to stop before the incident.
Once you do, that is the appropriate time to turn on your hazard lights to notify other oncoming vehicles. It is also advisable to set up an early warning device (EWD) which should be in your vehicle’s trunk.
Your vehicle will act as a warning device that may protect the victim(s) already on the scene and prevent a bad situation from becoming even worse. If the victim is conscious and is able to walk to the side of the highway, move your vehicle to the side and turn the hazard lights on, too.
2. Call emergency services
There was a time that when an accident is spotted, the first thing people do is post it on social media. No, that is not the proper thing to do. Yes, social media has its value, but the priority should be calling it in and not tracking likes and sad reacts.
Responsible motorists (you and I) should have certain emergency numbers saved. The basic number to know is 911 especially if the accident happened on a national road. If you are on an expressway, each one has their own hotline, and we'll list it down at the very end.
When you do call, try your best to give an accurate assessment of the scene (e.g. rider down, or two cars head on, so on so forth) and give an exact or approximate location so emergency services (e.g. ambulance) can get to the scene. While it may not be your responsibility, let us not assume that somebody else will actually make the call or that the authorities spotted it on the CCTV feed (if available).
3. Provide critical help if you’re able to
"First aid" is perhaps the most common phrase in any kind of situation that demands medical help, but we're not using the term.
If you're formally certified and trained in first aid and have experience in the medical field, military or law enforcement with medic training, then great! That makes you an ideal first responder.
But if you're not versed in such kinds of emergency first aid or trauma care or stop-the-bleed courses, you may want to think twice about rendering any kind of first aid. While the intention may be to save a life, you may inadvertently harm one. A good example would be doing CPR while there is an SCW or moving a person without the proper knowledge or equipment (e.g. neck brace) to do so. You should be careful of any potential legal liabilities that may arise if you intervene without proper certification or training.
Be that as it may, you are still a citizen responder, meaning you are still valuable as someone who can provide critical help. It can be as simple as talking to the person trapped in the car to help keep them awake. You may need to grab a water bottle from your car or your saddle bag to give to the victim. Heck, it can be as simple as shielding an unconscious rider from the sun or rain with an umbrella or sunshade. What you're giving is critical help, and it could buy enough time for trained EMTs (emergency medical technicians) to arrive.
Is it your duty to stop and respond?
No one will hold you responsible to be a responder in any way in an accident that you are not actually involved in because you are a third party.
What really matters is if you feel it is your duty to help as a fellow motorist, and that is a decision you will have to make when the time comes. It matters not if the person is in an expensive sports bike or a basic underbone. It shouldn't matter if the vehicle is a private SUV or a public jeepney. Lives are lives, and each one counts.
Save the following vital numbers on your phone if you are a motorist. You may also want to research the number of emergency services run by LGUs in different areas around the country, just in case. The last thing you want is to be Googling a specific number in the middle of nowhere without mobile data.
National Emergency Hotline: 911
Skyway: 0917-539-8762 / (02) 5318-8655
SLEX: 0917-687-7539 / (049) 508-7539
STAR Tollway: 0917-511-7827 / (043) 756 7870
MCX: (02) 7795-1629
C5 Link Expressway: 1-35000