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Road Traffic Accidents in Australia

Information on what to do if you have a road traffic accident: who to call and how to report an accident to the insurance company after a car crash...

In Australia all cars must be covered by compulsory third party, or CTP, insurance. This provides cover if a driver is involved in an accident in which people are killed or injured.

In the Event of an Accident

By law a driver involved in an accident where a person or property is damaged must stop immediately, moving vehicles away from the traffic if possible. Property can include gardens, fences, houses and other vehicles. The police should be contacted if anyone is injured in an accident or if there is any damage to property. Anyone involved in an accident must wait for the police to arrive.

  • In an emergency, Tel: 000 or 112 from a cell phone for police, ambulance and fire services
  • For non-emergencies the police can be contacted on the Police Assistance line, Tel: 131 444

At the scene of an accident

The following information should be given within to anyone whose property has been damaged or who has been injured:

  • Name and address of the driver of the car
  • Name and address of the owner of the car being driven, if the driver is not the owner
  • Car registration number and driver licence details
  • Any other details necessary to identify the vehicles
  • Insurance details

If an injured person is unable to take these details they should be given to somebody representing them, or to a police officer if one is present.  This information should be given within 24 hours, allowing for exceptional circumstances.

Guidelines on what to do after a car accident vary slightly between states. The authorities in some states and territories provide clear guidance for what should be done and how to report an accident:

Involved parties should not admit liability or offer any payment to an injured person or the owner of damaged property after an accident, as insurance companies may investigate any negligence which contributed to the crash.

In the event of an accident, full insurance details should be collected from everybody involved so that when a claim is made as much detail as possible can be provided. The following information should be collected:

  • Names and addresses of all drivers involved in the accident
  • Insurance details of every driver involved
  • Names and contact details of anybody who witnessed the accident

It is advisable to note the time and date of the accident as well as the weather conditions. If possible the scene should be photographed or a sketch made. In more serious accidents a police report needs to be completed. This should be done honestly, and as much detail as possible should be provided.

Making a Claim

Following an accident, the company providing car insurance should be contacted straight away. This should be done even if a claim is not made by the policy holder, as other people involved may make a claim against an individual at a later date. Many insurance companies refuse to honour a claim if the accident was not reported immediately.

Insurance claims are usually made by filling out a claim form. Many companies have telephone services and online facilities to do this. The more information that is recorded when the accident happens, the easier a claim is to make. To make a claim on another driver's insurance a letter of demand should be written to them using the details they provide.

Drink Driving

Driving while under the influence of alcohol is one of the biggest factors in road accidents in Australia. There are strict drink driving laws and the police can stop and breath test any driver at any time. The legal blood alcohol limit for driving is 0.05g per 100ml of blood in all states and territories. Drivers on probationary (P plate) or learner (L plate) licences must not exceed zero blood alcohol.  The same restriction applies to drivers of taxis, buses, and heavy goods vehicles.

The penalty for being caught drink driving depends on a driver's blood alcohol level and whether they have offended before. Loss of a licence for a fixed period and fines are common punishments. Imprisonment and community orders are possible for serious offences.

Breakdown and Recovery

There are a number of breakdown companies in Australia, each offering various levels of cover. Cars, and not drivers are covered by a policy, but policies also exist for international and national breakdown/accident cover.

Telephones are available at regular intervals on motorways/freeways to call for roadside assistance in the event of a breakdown.

Some of the major breakdown companies in Australia are:

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