Reporting an accident

Reporting an accident

All parties involved in a road traffic accident are required to report the accident. If there are serious injuries or fatalities the report normally takes place at the scene where the SAP or Metro officials will compile the report. In such a case vehicles may only be moved after the necessary paperwork has been completed.

What does the law require?

  • A driver of any vehicle, who has been involved in a road accident, must report the accident within 24 hours to any local traffic department or police station (South African Police). This is a requirement in terms of the National Road Traffic Act, Act 93 of 1996.
  • A criminal offence is committed if a road accident is not reported within 24-hours of the occurrence or if a drivers licence is not produced when the accident is reported, a criminal prosecution could follow.
  • An accident must be reported in person. It may not be reported over the telephone or by a third party.
  • If more than one vehicle was involved in an accident the onus is upon the individual drivers to file a report.

Completing the Official Accident Report (Known as an AR Report)

The official accident report is not a simple formality and requires accurate detail. It is important as your insurance company will require the Accident Report no issued by the police, they may need access to the report when assessing and evaluating your claim.

  • The Accident Report (AR) Form must be completed for all accidents, which occur on a public road or where the public have access and a vehicle was involved.
  • The AR Form should be completed personally by the driver of the vehicle or vehicles involved in an accident where no criminal case has been opened. This is if the driver is in condition to do so. Exclusions may be; 
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or a narcotic substance 
  •  Reckless or negligent driving.
  • In the case of a serious injury.

A police officer, traffic officer or another authorised person can assist the driver to complete the form at the accident scene or a police station.

Details in the Accident Report (AR)

  • Every effort must be made to say exactly where the accident occurred, i.e. the exact location. This is critical. An accurate sketch is important. As much detail as possible should be included such as street names and landmarks, the precise position of vehicles. Approximate measurements should be taken and noted as well as the direction of travel of the vehicles involved. Keep a notepad and pen in your cubbyhole as you can do the sketch at the scene and redo it when you file the accident report.
  • The detail on the AR Form must be an accurate reflection of the accident. It should include the following, road surface details as well as weather and light conditions. The AR form must contain all details of the drivers and vehicles.
  • Once the AR Form has been completed, an entry will be made in the official Accident Register, at the reporting police station. In the event of the AR being completed on-site, the reporting authority will normally SMS you the AR number which you will need for insurance purposes.
  • All involved will then be given an official reference number proving that the accident has been reported.    This may be backed up by an occurrence book entry in the station occurrence book known as an OB entry.
  • A photocopy of the completed AR Form may be given if requested. There could be a fee.
  • Eyewitness details are critical and should be captured on the scene as they may be useful in an investigation.
  • An accident can also be reported via the National Traffic Information System (NATIS) website, this only applies to minor crashes and must be done within 24 hours as well. You will be issued with a Crash Report Number (CRN#) find it at the following address,

When will a road accident be criminally investigated by the SAPS?

  • When people have been killed (culpable homicide), or seriously injured.
  • When a vehicle of the SAP or Traffic authority has been involved in an accident or contributed to the accident.
  • When it appears that a serious offence has been committed.
  • When there is a written complaint that a specific criminal offence has been committed, and the complaint is brought to the attention of a station commissioner at an SAP police station or the head of a Metro police region.

An accident should be reported at the closest SAP or Metro station to the actual occurrence. Otherwise, it complicates the administration of the relevant accident reports, some stations may decline to complete a  report if out of their area.

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