It’s not something many of us like to even think about, much less actually mentally prepare for – but the fact is that you may witness or come across an accident involving a motorcycle while out on the road, and knowing what to do can be a huge help to that fellow rider, and even make the difference between life and death. Check out these tips on what to do if you ever witness a motorcycle accident, and share them with your friends!
Few things are more jarring than when you’re riding along peacefully, minding your own business, and a car accident happens right in front of you – except, of course, when a motorcycle accident happens right in front of you. The nature of motorcycles leaves the rider far more exposed, and motorcycle accidents often involve serious injury to the rider and/or passengers that can be tough to deal with.
But when a motorcycle accident does happen, what can make the difference between life and death for the rider is how witnesses react to the situation. One thing that many victims of serious accidents recall (and are often surprised by) is how many people slow down to look at them – but actually don’t even stop to help!
Motorcycle accident scenes are confusing, dangerous, and traumatic – not only for the people involved, but even for those who stop and help. If you’re one of those people, there are a lot of ways you can contribute and help (even if you don’t directly deal with the accident victims, which isn’t for everybody.)
But what winds up being even more memorable are the people who actually do, and the help they provided in those critical moments after they get into an accident. So to help you be one of those people, and provide the best help possible to fellow riders involved in a motorcycle accident, we put together these tips to help you know what to do if this should happen to you.
First Things First: Safety
Many people who do stop at the scene of an accident are overcome by the urge to help the victims – which is a positive thing – but in the rush to do so they often overlook their own safety, and the safety of others in the process. With that in mind, here are a few things to keep in mind as you come up on the scene of a motorcycle accident and want to help:
Stop in a safe spot clear of the accident and the roadway. Stopping near the victim might put you in a great place to help, but it will also put you in the way of emergency personnel when they come on the scene minutes later. Stop somewhere that will leave the accident scene clear for emergency vehicles, and make sure others do the same. Make sure you park out of the way of approaching motorists, or one of them could collide with your vehicle and cause another accident. Turn your hazard lights on to attract as much attention to your stopped vehicle as possible.
Emergency vehicles are big and crews need a LOT of room to work. Stopping to help is a great thing to do – just make sure to do it out of the way, and make sure others do the same.
Make sure the scene is safe for you before approaching. You want to help, but if you put yourself in harm’s way while doing it, there will be one more accident victim to attend to when first responders come onto the scene. You can’t help anyone if you’re injured too, so make sure to survey the scene and make sure it’s safe for you before approaching.
Call 911 before getting involved. The difference between life and death at the scene of accident can come down to just seconds, so make sure that you call 911 first to get emergency personnel on their way. You may be overcome by the urge to help the accident victim immediately, but don’t do this until you know 911 has been called. Make sure to give a clear description of the location of the scene and how many people are injured. (If there is more than one person on the scene, you can tell someone else to call 911, but be clear and specific about who you tell to do it – saying something like “somebody call 911” often results in nobody doing it.)
How You Can Help Out At The Scene of a Motorcycle Accident
At the scene of an accident, those helping out often pay attention to the accident victims directly, but overlook other ways they can help them, such as taking down information, making notes, and taking photos. Motorcycle accidents are often followed by legal cases, and gathering information about the crash can be just as helpful to them as attending to them while they are injured. You can help out in either way that you are comfortable with, because both are necessary and very valuable!
If You Attend To The Rider
If you have medical training, it goes without saying that you should attend to the downed rider directly. But if you don’t, there are still ways you can help, and here are a few tips to keep in mind if you do.
Move the victim only if he/she is in life-threatening danger. Motorcycle accidents often involve spinal injuries or broken bones that can be made worse by moving the victim, so don’t do it unless they are in immediate, life-threatening danger (like in a fire or directly in the path of spilled fuel, etc.)
DON’T remove their helmet! It is natural to want to remove the rider’s helmet to “let them breathe” and make it easier for them to communicate, but this should not be done due to the risk of aggravating a spinal injury. Even paramedics often won’t do this until a rider has been transported to a trauma center! What you can do, however, is open their visor, so they feel less claustrophobic and to make it easier to communicate.
Find or provide medical supplies. If you aren’t trained in providing first aid, someone else on the scene might be – but if they’re busy providing help to the accident victim, they won’t be able to find medical supplies to use on them. If you have medical supplies on your bike or car, or can find someone else at the scene who does, you can be a huge help, even if you don’t have the medical training to use them. (If you don’t carry a medical kit with you on your bike or in your car, you should, because it could help save someone’s life someday – maybe even your own! For more information check out our video on putting together your own emergency medical kit.)
A medical kit like this Adventure Medical Kits 0.9 Kit is great to keep on your bike or car, even if you don’t know how to use everything in it – someone else on the scene might, and worst come to worst, someone else might end up using your own medical kit on you.
Communicate with them and make them feel comfortable. No matter who you are, being involved in an accident is a frightening and very vulnerable situation. For that reason, you should communicate with the victim in a calm, confident, and reassuring manner, making sure they know that help is on the way and that they are being taken care of. In a situation like this, your confidence and calmness will mean a lot to the victim (even if you are freaking out on the inside.)
Get critical information from the victim to help emergency personnel. Without overloading the victim with questions (as this might become stressful and confusing for them), try to get critical information that you can share with emergency personnel, such as assessing their level of consciousness, finding out their blood type, any drug allergies or medical conditions, and contact info for loved ones. The victim may lose consciousness before emergency personnel arrive, and this information will become very helpful for them to do their jobs!
Other Ways You Can Help At The Scene Of An Accident
Naturally, the victim of an accident tends to get most of the attention at a scene. But if there are enough people helping already, or if the gore of a rough accident scene is more than you can handle, you can still help the victim out by gathering and recording information about the accident. Many accidents are followed by legal cases, and you taking the time to gather information they can’t get themselves will mean a lot to them later. A few other ways you can help out are:
Help make the scene of an accident safe. Accidents happen on roadways, and roadways aren’t safe places to be; other vehicles can still be driving by, and they can hit people assisting at a crash scene (sadly, this happens to emergency personnel on a regular basis.) You can help by setting up road flares, cones, or even using a flashlight to signal approaching traffic that there is an emergency up ahead (this becomes much more important at night.)
Take notes and photos documenting what happened. Information documenting what happened will become critical information later on, especially if more than one vehicle was involved. Taking photos of the scene – or even better, video – will be extremely helpful to authorities later to help reconstruct the events leading up to the crash (especially if someone was at fault.) Don’t try to rely on memory – eyewitness accounts are notoriously inaccurate, and it may be months before the case even goes to court.
If you want to help out at the scene of an accident (but aren’t dealing directly with the victim) this here is going to be your best friend. Photos, video, and notes about what happened will be a huge help to both authorities and the parties involved the accident, especially if it turns into a legal case later (as many do.)
If the accident was a hit and run… Don’t chase after the driver! If you can chase them, you can see them, and you’re better off documenting detailed information to help authorities catch them later than trying to do so yourself. Doing this can put you in a very compromising situation: you may have to break traffic laws to catch up with them, you won’t be available to help out at the scene, and don’t forget, other witnesses might describe YOU as the one who fled the scene.
Gather contact information for witnesses (including yourself.) In addition to recording information at the scene, getting contact information for witnesses will also become very helpful to the victim later. Not everyone will be willing to be a witness (they can be subpoenaed later), but if you can find people who are, or you are willing to be a witness yourself, this can be helpful to law enforcement when they take reports about the accident later – and very helpful to the downed rider.
Do you have any stories about helping out at the scene of an accident? What did you do?