How soon do I need to report an accident?

Don’t fall foul of the requirements to report an accident and risk having a minimum of 5 unnecessary points on your licence.

Do I need to report an accident? Yes! The Road Traffic Act 1988 makes it clear that where there has been a traffic accident involving either personal injury to another person, damage to another vehicle, to an animal or to property attached or adjacent to road, then the driver must stop and give his details to someone having grounds to require them and if he fails to do so, then report the accident to a police station or a police constable, ” as soon as reasonably practicable” and in any case within 24 hours.

What does “as soon as reasonably practicable” mean? Like many things, it depends upon the particular facts of the case but what it doesn’t mean is that you can relax, thinking that as long as you report it within 24 hours, you have discharged your duty.

A driver who is in this situation needs to be pro-active. Wait until the police contact you, even if it is within 24 hours of the accident and you are likely to find that in due course you are issued with a summons.

The test is not “is it reasonable for the defendant to have reported it earlier” but rather “did the defendant report the accident as soon as reasonably practicable?”. In one case, where an accident happened at 1.10am and the defendant reported it at 11am, the court held that the defendant had not discharged his duty. It is not sufficient to telephone the report, nor can the duty be discharged by someone else reporting the accident; it is the driver himself who must report. The moral is, that if a driver finds himself in a situation where he has an obligation to report an accident, it should be a priority. Put off reporting and it could easily cost you points and a hefty fine.

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