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29 August 2023
There’s no denying that your first few weeks with your probationary licence comes with a strong call for adventure. After all, it’ll be the first time in your life that you can drive entirely on your own. But this added independence comes with some hazards.
For instance, there’s no guarantee that other drivers will drive safely on the road – even if you’re abiding by the road rules. Not to mention that there are a great number of rules and safe driving practices that you do need to keep in mind as a probationary driver.
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It takes time before these practices become second nature, and in that time window, you are at an elevated risk of being involved in an accident. That’s why it’s important for young drivers to read up on how best to protect themselves both physically and financially in the event of a motor accident, including hit and runs.
Hit and run incidents are more common than you may think, and they can occur even when you’re not in your vehicle and while it’s street parked. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering ‘what is comprehensive car insurance?’ and ‘is it worth it?’, then you’ll be happy to hear that this particular type of car insurance is designed to provide cover in the event that you’re involved in a hit and run.
Want to know more about what you should do in the event that you fall victim to or are at fault for a hit and run accident? Then read on for our tips on how best to handle this stressful situation as a young driver.
A hit-and-run accident is when a driver hits another car, building, or pedestrian and fails to stop, render assistance, or exchange details with the victim. It is a crime to leave the scene of a vehicular accident without stopping in all states of Australia and comes with severe penalties, including fines, demerit points on your licence, and even potential jail time, depending on the severity of the crime. By law, you are required to stop and render assistance if you've hit someone with your car or to stop and leave your details if you hit a building or other structure.
Now that you know what constitutes a hit and run accident, the next step you should take is learning what to do if you ever become the victim of a hit and run. Motor accidents do cause a rush of adrenalin, so it’s important that you familiarise yourself with the following steps to help provide you the best possible chance of staying safe and maintaining communication with the party that’s at fault.
Naturally, the first thing to do if another car hits you and the driver absconds is to see if everyone in the car is okay and uninjured. Get everyone to check their bodies, necks, arms, and legs to see if they have sustained an injury. If anyone has accrued an injury in the collision, then call 000 immediately and request that an ambulance arrive at the scene.
Even if nobody is injured, it’s still imperative that you notify the police that a hit and run accident has occurred. This is to make sure that there’s a timestamp for the incident in question to further support any police investigation. If you’re already on the phone to 000 to secure paramedic services, then this will also act as a timestamp for your case.
When on the phone with the police, try your best to share any details that you remember about the vehicle that collided with you as well as the driver of that vehicle and any other passengers. If you get a look at their plates, ensure you write down their vehicle registration number. The more details you can give the police, the better chance they have of apprehending the offending driver and bringing them to justice.
Once you’ve shared all details and answered all questions, the police will generate a report for you, outlining the details of the accident and the statement you provided. You can then use this for the next step: contacting your insurer.
If you’ve taken out comprehensive car insurance, the next step is to contact your insurance company to lodge a claim for the damage to your car. You can do this in a few ways, such as via an online form, an app, or simply over the phone. A phone call may be the best option for a hit and run accident claim, as your insurance provider will want detailed information about the accident.
Whilst the party that’s at fault typically pays the excess for the claim made by a victim following a motor collision, it naturally works a little differently in the event of a hit and run where the guilty party has fled the scene. Unless you have the plate numbers of the vehicle that hit you, you will have to pay an excess.
Your insurance company will then arrange for your car to be repaired and may also offer you a hire car or taxi vouchers to get around while your car is being fixed. In some cases, the damage caused to your vehicle may exceed the cost of repairs, in which case the insurance company will declare your car a write-off and provide a payout that’s equivalent to either the market value or insured value of your vehicle – whatever you've chosen on your policy.
Finally, if you're injured in a hit-and-run accident, you may be able to apply for compensation through the Transport Accident Commission or TAC. This is a complicated process, but the TAC website provides an abundance of resources on it to support young drivers, so be sure to read up on eligibility and the application process there. It’s also worth researching independently if you were injured in a hit and run accident, as you can claim compensation to pay for medical bills and rehabilitation. You won’t know what benefits or support you’re eligible to receive if you don’t look into the options available to you.
So we’ve gone through what you should do in the event that you fall victim to a hit and run. But what if you’ve hit somebody else’s car and are looking to avoid becoming the perpetrator of a hit and run accident? After all, it can be tricky communicating with another driver once a collision has taken place – especially if you’re in a busy street and there’s nowhere to pull over.
Even so, it’s your responsibility to secure communications as promptly as possible. Find a position where you can make contact, and exchange details (i.e. your ID, your driver’s licence number, and your insurance details).
If you’ve hit a parked car and the owner of that vehicle is nowhere in sight, then it’s your responsibility to leave your details so that you can be contacted later in order to exchange details more thoroughly. This can be as easy as leaving a piece of paper with your mobile phone number under the windscreen wiper of the car that you hit.
All things considered, the most important thing to keep in mind when you’ve been involved in a hit and run is to maintain respect for the other party, and to be mindful of other drivers on the road at the time that the incident took place. So long as you’ve been able to do the right thing and uphold your responsibilities, there’s no reason why a hit and run will impact your record as a proficient driver.
The entire August 30, 2023 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!
The entire August 30, 2023 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!