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What can bystanders do to help when they witness a car crash?

Posted at 6:00 PM, Jul 03, 2024

As we enter the summer months, car crashes become more common, and often people want to step in and assist before police arrive.

Lieutenant Brian Black with the Great Falls Police Department explained what people can or can't do when they are witness to a crash.

“I think a lot of people want to help. Our biggest concern is the safety of the bystanders that are helping, that they're making sure that they're not doing something unsafe to make them now involved in part of the crash or possibly hit themselves or something like that,” said Lt. Black. “So I would caution them to assess the scene, assess their own safety, before they start trying to help.”

Typically, around Independence Day and throughout the summer months, more crashes tend to occur as more people are on the roads and traveling.

“Tips I would [give] for summertime is don't get in a rush. Take your time, be cognizant of the other drivers around you, drive defensively, really watch some of the behaviors of the other cars,” Lt. Black explained.

Additionally, it’s important to not drive distracted. Avoid texting while driving, and always keep your eyes on the road, being aware of your surroundings.

“Before law enforcement gets there, if somebody is helping out, they might be trying to assist by directing traffic. There might be a person who's injured in the roadway or a vehicle is blocking part of the roadway, and [the bystanders] are trying to assist and help direct traffic to, in their mind, help reduce the risk and maybe make the scene a little bit safer,” said Lt. Black. “But if those people that are driving through that scene aren't paying attention, or if they're getting mad at the people that are trying to help out, that doesn't help out the situation.”

There is nothing wrong with citizens who witness an accident attempting to help, as long as they do it with caution and keeping in mind the safety of themselves and everyone involved.

While driving, if you see the area ahead of you getting backed up or cars with hazard lights on, it’s best to slow down and proceed with caution.

“Making sure the scene is safe first before you proceed into it is a very good way to approach it,” Lt. Black added.