Road traffic collisions

When do I have to report an accident to the Police?

You need to report an accident to the Police when details have not been exchanged at the scene, someone has been injured or another factor such as drugs or alcohol has been involved. This can be done by phoning 101 or attending a Police Station.

Do I have to report an accident to my insurance company?

You should report all accidents to your insurance company even if you were not at fault. The insurance company bases your quote and policy on information provided to them and if that changes it could invalidate your insurance policy.

Do I have to report to the police an accident/collision that happened in a car park?

If a road traffic accident/collision happened on a road or a public place and the other driver failed to stop or there are injuries then you have to report the accident to the police. Some car parks can be classed as public places, for example, supermarket and multi-story car parks. However, car parks belonging to private organisations where the members of the public would not ordinarily be permitted would not be classed as a public place and should be reported directly to your insurance company.

Do the police prosecute failing to stop and report an accident in every case?

The police will aim to prosecute in most cases where there is sufficient evidence to secure a conviction however each case is judged on it's own merits. If the collision is one where there is serious injury/ damage then the police will aim to prosecute in every case. If it is minor damage only then it is more likely (although not definitely) that it will be left to the insurance companies to sort out liability.

Failing to stop and failing to report an accident are offences and although not the most serious crimes, it can be distressing for the other parties involved.

A conviction for one of these offences could lead to imprisonment and/or a substantial fine.

Following a road traffic accident I exchanged details. I do not think the other person has got any insurance, what should I do?

Contact your insurance company who should make the necessary enquiries in the first instance. Once the enquiries have been completed and they are satisfied that the person does not have insurance, they should advise you to report the matter to the police who may be able to trace the other person.

It would be helpful if you could supply the registration number, make and model of the vehicle and the name and address of the other person if you were given it at the scene. If the person is traced they will be prosecuted for any relevant road traffic offence(s).

You can also take out civil proceeding against the other driver in order to try and reclaim the cost of any damage to your car. If you have legal protection as part of your cover your insurance company will be able to advise you on this matter.

If you have suffered any form of personal injury, loss or damage to your property, as a result of the accident and the other person cannot be traced, you may be able to obtain compensation through the Motor Insurers Bureau:

152 Silbury Boulevard
Central Milton Keynes
Telephone: 01908 830001

How long do I have to report an incident to the police?

Reportable road traffic collisions have to be reported as soon as is reasonably practicable and in any case, within twenty-four hours. Some forces may not take a report of a road traffic collision after a specified amount of time. Serious road traffic incidents (e.g. dangerous driving) have no such time limit for prosecution.

I have been in a road traffic accident, nobody was injured and we both stopped, do I need to report it to the police?

If both parties stopped at the scene and exchanged names and addresses there is no requirement to report the accident to the police. Road traffic law has been complied with and the police will not take a report.

I have been in a road traffic accident, nobody was injured but the other party did not stop, do I need to report it to the police?

If there is damage to your vehicle as a result of the accident then you need to report the matter to the police as soon as possible and in any case within 24 hours. If you managed to make a note of the registration of the offending vehicle the police will make enquiries to trace and speak to the driver. The process of tracing and speaking to the driver of the other vehicle can take some time.

If you did not manage to note down the registration of the vehicle then you can still report the accident to the police but unfortunately there are no further enquiries that can be made.

I have just knocked over a cat and killed it, what should I do?

The appropriate organisation to contact is the local council in order for them to clear away the remains. Unfortunately, a cat does not fall within the remit of the Road Traffic Act and therefore you do not need to report the incident to the police (as long as there are no other factors involved).

It may be advisable, if possible, to make a few enquiries to ascertain the owner of the cat so that they can be informed of the situation.

I have knocked over an animal, do I have to report it?

Some animals do not come within the definition of animal within the Road Traffic Act 1988 so you are not required to report it to the police. However, it may be worth contacting the police to inform them of the incident. Also the local authority will need to be contacted to remove the remains of the animal.

A dog (as well as a goat, horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep and pig) does come within the remit of the Road Traffic Act and is a reportable accident so you are required by law to report it to the police.

Important: Badgers are specially protected and it is an offence to possess one, dead or alive, (without the proper authority), so if you kill one, leave it at the roadside. The Local Authority can be contacted if the animal needs removing. If you are concerned, as stated above, you can voluntarily contact the police.

Is it illegal to smoke whilst driving?

It is not an offence in itself to smoke, eat or change the CD or radio whilst driving but you could commit the offence of driving without due care and attention. These are some activities that distract driver's attention from the road. Others include reading maps, talking on a hands-free mobile phone and having very loud music in the car. Distracted drivers are more likely to have/cause accidents.

What documents do I need to take with me to the station to report a road traffic accident/collision?

You need to take your driving licence, insurance and MOT and any details of the offending vehicle.

Which station do I have to report a road traffic accident/collision to?

You can report the accident at any police station in the country and you should report it to the most convenient police station for you.