a car accident

What to Do If You Witness a Car Accident & How to Help

Updated January 4, 2022 . AmFam Team

Wondering how to respond after witnessing a car accident? American Family has you covered. Click here to learn what to do after witnessing a car accident and how you can help.

If you just saw a car accident, you may be wondering what to do as a witness. If you’re currently next to an accident scene, Googling this article on your phone and wondering how to respond to a car accident — we’ve got you covered. First step, take a deep breath. Witnessing a car accident can be unsettling, so ground yourself before helping others.

Tips for Handling an Accident with an Uninsured Driver

Here's how to handle accidents with uninsured drivers and tips for filing an insurance claim.

Keep Yourself Safe If You Just Saw a Car Accident

If you're driving and you witness an accident in front of you, make sure you pull over to a safe area. Try to be far enough away from the accident to leave room for emergency vehicles, and to ensure that you're not in any danger. Next, put on your hazard lights. Only exit your car if it's safe. If you're on a busy highway, it's probably best if you remain in your vehicle. And, if the cars involved are smoking, be sure to mention that when calling emergency services.

a man making a call after a car accident

Consider Calling 911 After You Witnessed an Accident

It’s normal to wonder how to respond to a car accident and if you should call 911. The National Emergency Number Association (Opens in a new tab) recommends that if you are unsure of whether or not the situation you witnessed is an emergency, you should call 911 and let the call taker determine if emergency assistance is needed. If you do call 911, be prepared to describe the scene, and give your location. Again, make sure your car is in park before you use your cell phone.

If You Feel Comfortable, Offer the Accident Victims Support

If you feel it's safe to get closer to the scene of the accident, head over to see how you might be able to help. You may be able to provide aid by:

  • First asking the victim if they are hurt or need assistance
  • Offering your phone so the victims can call relatives or friends
  • Setting up road flares from your car emergency kit to block off the accident area

If you see someone hurt, do not attempt to move them, since that could make their injuries worse. To ensure that those injured receive proper first aid treatment, wait for the authorities to arrive.

a police officer taking a statement

Stay on the Scene and Offer a Statement to Police

You can help the authorities and those involved by giving an account of what you witnessed. Or, if someone is hurt or scared, you can act as a source of comfort until someone else arrives. Keep in mind that once the police arrive you may need to provide your contact details to them in case there’s any follow up questions after the accident.

Be Cautious as a Witness to an Accident

In more tense situations, especially if someone was driving inappropriately or recklessly and caused the accident, the victim will benefit from you giving a statement to the police as a witness.

Your presence might also help to defuse a possible argument between the drivers, or prevent someone from trying to leave the scene. Just be mindful of your own safety, and try to stay calm.

Stay Protected from the Unexpected with Car Insurance

How you act in those pivotal first few minutes after a car accident can have a meaningful impact on both the victims and the emergency response team. You can make a big difference.

Before an accident happens, be sure you’ve got the right coverage in place to protect you, your loved ones and your finances. Our tips on customizing your car insurance can help. Connect with your agent to review your coverage or get a quote today.

Have additional questions about car accidents or collisions? Check out these car-accident-related articles to find more answers and helpful tips.

This article is for informational purposes only and includes information widely available through different sources.


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