Taking the law into their own hands after a road accident

IN THE event of a collision, the vehicles involved may stop in the right, middle or left lane, halting traffic behind.

Even if moved to the roadside, congestion will soon build up as passing motorists from both directions would slow down and rubberneck instead of focusing on the traffic ahead.

More accidents could easily occur after the first. Those who are wise may take a glance at the damaged vehicles and drive past the accident scene as quickly as possible or risk crashing into the front vehicles or being rear-ended by those behind or sandwiched in a chain collision.

The public must also be aware that motorists may choose not to stop after a collision for various reasons.

It is risky to do so in fast-flowing traffic and dangerous if the road is dark, or the driver suspects the collision was a ruse by carjackers or deems the damage as too minor.

In any case, it would be wrong to regard all motorists who did not stop as hit-and-run. Should you be the victim, do not let your emotions take over by instinctively chasing after the vehicle. Just take down the registration number, model and colour, and make a report if necessary.

Otherwise, you will be putting many people in danger in a high-speed chase that could cause severe damage to vehicles and injuries to yourself and others. Should you be successful in stopping the other vehicle, a fight could easily ensue in the heat of the moment.

If you demand the other driver to cough up cash compensation, remember he is not obliged to pay. Using threats or physical force may amount to extortion or even robbery. What started as just a fender bender is certainly not worth the trouble if you were to end up behind bars.

In minor collisions, parties at fault may offer to settle privately instead of making a police report and subject to a compound fine of RM300.

Hence, the usual amount of compensation offered is no more than a few hundred ringgit and it is up to the other party to accept or reject.

(Pic credit: Bernama)

If the compensation demanded is high, the party at fault will opt to make a police report so that the other party can claim from his insurance company without losing the no-claim discount under “own damage knock-for-knock”, or make a third-party claim, which can be arduous.

Although reports may be made within 24 hours, there could be several follow-up trips to submit documents, meet up with the investigating officer, and pick up a copy of the police report with a sketch plan. It is certainly a big hassle, time-consuming and unpleasant episode.

If people are injured, a police report is a must, and the insurance company is duly notified. Otherwise, the driver may have to pay huge compensation from his pocket or later be declared bankrupt if unable to do so, rendering the injured victim to suffer a double whammy.

If those injured have died, vehicles involved in accidents must not be moved until police have completed investigations at the scene.

Sometimes, it is better to wait for the ambulance than crudely lift and squeeze badly injured victims into a car, as this is likely to aggravate the injuries.

As a motorist, you better be streetwise after you have collided with a pedestrian, motorcyclist or pillion rider. Even if you were not at fault, it would be foolish to keep telling passersby what happened earlier. Many are no longer rational upon seeing the injured writhing in pain.

All it takes is just one person to start assaulting you and all hell will break loose. Many people have suffered severe injuries and even died from beatings by frenzied mobs, and most were just bystanders or passersby who did not witness the collision.

Therefore, it is better not to linger at the accident scene just to maintain that you were not in the wrong. Those who want to be dead right may well end up dead for insisting on being in the right. It is better to be accused of ‘hit-and-run’ than suffer the consequences of staying put.

For grievous injuries and while waiting for the ambulance to arrive, you should drive to the nearest police station to seek refuge and make an initial report. This will prove that you were not trying to flee or evade responsibility for the collision, more so to ensure your safety.

Recently, a delivery rider refused to accept the apology from a car driver after a collision and used his group chat to notify others. The bikers took the law into their own hands, chased down the car, pulled out the driver, and beat him up. He was found dead in the middle of the road.

If hostilities have been building up between motorists and motorcyclists, it must be addressed by the authorities.

Also, the media must not use the term ‘hit-and-run’ too freely, as it could influence the public psyche to the extent that some people take the law into their own hands. – Feb 26, 2024


Main pic credit: Kurnia

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