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We are only five months into 2016 and according to the Florida law enforcement, there have already been 169,000 crashes resulting in 106,000 personal injuries on our highways. Given these types of numbers, it is more of a matter of when than if; you will become a witness to an automobile accident.

In truth, you are much more likely to be a witness to a crash than you are the victim of one. So, what should you do and not do if you should witness an accident?

Protect Yourself First

It can be almost as unnerving to witness a crash as to be involved in one. For many of us, the instinct to help others can cause us to react before we think. You have to remember, though, that you will do no one any good if you don’t take care of your own safety first.

Don’t stop in the middle of the road or too close to the accident scene. Many times a simple accident can have an accordion effect. Pull your vehicle at least 100 feet away from the scene, off the road into a safe area and turn on your hazard lights.

Notify the Authorities

Simple or severe, Florida law requires a Crash Report to be filed for all accidents. As a third party, you are in the best position to notify the authorities. If there are injuries involved, seconds can mean lives saved, call first thing.

Be prepared to give the operator the location, the number of cars and people involved, and any other details you can gather without placing yourself in harm’s way.

Rendering Assistance

Florida does have a Good Samaritan Law, but unless you are trained medical professional, you should not move or attempt to treat a victim, unless there is an immediate threat to their life such as a fire.

Clear the Road

If you are a witness to an accident, and it doesn’t place you in jeopardy, you can help the drivers secure the scene by reminding them to turn off their ignitions, place their cars in park and set their brakes.

Besides, it just being a good idea from a safety point of view, Florida law requires traffic lanes to be cleared, if possible, after an accident. If the incident is minor, you can help move the cars off the road, set up traffic cones and if safe, disperse road flares.

Take Notes

At a minimum, you can expect to have to give a statement to the police about what you witnessed. Depending on the severity and circumstances of the wreck you may also need to give statements to insurance investigators and possibly testify in criminal or civil court.

It is of major importance that you answer all questions in as clear, calm, and honest a manner as you can. Because of this, it is a good idea to make yourself some notes as to what you saw immediately before, during and after the accident occurred.

No one wants to see bad things happen and we certainly don’t want to get caught up in other people’s problems, but most of us feel we have a civil and moral obligation to render assistance, to the limits of our training and abilities, in a time of crisis.

Hopefully, these few pointers will help you know the limits you should observe when you stop to help, after an automobile accident.