For many motorists, returning to their vehicle to discover damage is upsetting and annoying. However, it can often come with the additional problem in that the perpetrator has not left a note or attempted to provide any contact details. A recent study by YourParkingSpace.com shockingly found that one in seven motorists in the UK would not leave a note after hitting someone else’s vehicle if they thought they could get away with it.
So, what’s the legal position on this?
The 1998 Road Traffic Act states that it is an offence for any motorist if they do not stop after a collision and provide information which should include the registration number of the offending vehicle and contact details for the driver. This is irrespective of the type and severity of the incident, or how much damage has been caused. It is also very helpful in such circumstances to leave your insurance information, as this will be required to help settle any claim. If there are any witnesses to the incident, it is also helpful to have them provide their contact details as it can provide valuable evidence in the event of a claim.
Further findings from the survey of approximately 500 drivers were also worrying. One in nine of respondents refused to answer whether they’d admit to hitting another vehicle, while more than a third said they’ve seen other motorists accidentally damage parked vehicles – there was no clear distinction in the drivers of wither new or used cars. On the positive side, just over half of drivers said they would become involved if they witnessed an accident involving a parked vehicle and would encourage the at fault driver to provide details as well as giving their own witness statements.
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It is also important if you do have a collision or are involved in an accident to notify your insurance provider, regardless of whether it is your fault or not. Matters around responsibility and who pays for a claim are generally settled between insurance companies, so it’s vital to notify them as soon as possible. Your insurance policy cost may well be affected if there is an accident but failing to provide details of an accident certainly won’t help, failing to disclose an incident or accident when renewing a policy could even lead to that policy being invalid or ultimately cancelled. It could also result in legal issues, which would be equally relevant to both private drivers and those in the motor trade.
Ultimately there are numerous reasons why you should stop and leave your details in the event of an accident, especially if you hit or damage a stationary or parked car. Not only is there a legal reason for doing so, it is simply good manners and will save the owner of the other vehicle from a lot of hassle in trying to track down witnesses or facing a bill for damage that wasn’t their fault.