The Strafford Police Department responds to motor vehicle accidents on the roadways within Strafford city limits, including city streets and a section of Interstate 44. The police officers respond to numerous accidents throughout the year. Being involved in a motor vehicle accident can be a traumatic event for an individual; however if you are prepared and knowledgeable about the process, it can be remedied quickly and without further incident. Please review the following to determine what to do when you are involved in an accident, witness an accident, involved in an accident when another driver leaves the scene, or involved in an accident on private property.
If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident:
SAFETY FIRST! A motor vehicle accident is an unplanned event. If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, please remember to survey your surroundings before any other task. Are you injured or trapped in the vehicle? Does the other driver appear injured? Is your vehicle in the middle of the roadway, possibly creating hazardous conditions for other drivers? Take a moment to observe the surroundings.
- If you are not injured: Ensure you do not have injuries. Often a driver will not recognize an injury due to adrenaline and shock. If you are not seriously injured and it is safe to do so, exit your vehicle and check on the other driver as well. If neither party has injuries, safely exit the vehicles and move yourselves to the side of the roadway, out of the flow of traffic. One of the drivers will need to call 9-1-1 to dispatch officers to the accident. You will need to have the following information when you call: location of accident, list of injuries if any, description of both vehicles, any hazardous road conditions due to the accident (i.e. the vehicles are in the roadway, etc), and any exigent circumstances such as an intoxicated driver, driver trapped in a vehicle, or vehicle fire. The 9-1-1 operator will need you to provide the information in a calm manner with a clear speaking voice; often background noise interferes with communications. Wait in a safe location, away from traffic until the officer arrives. If your vehicles are impeding the flow of traffic and it is safe to do so, move your vehicles to a nearby parking area. If you can notate the location of the vehicles prior to moving them, the officer will be able to complete a concise report. You may notate this by a marker on the pavement or simply by photographs on your cellular phone.
- If you are injured: If you are injured or unable to move from the vehicle, remain as still as possible, keeping your back and head straight. Advise the other subject involved you have injuries and request they contact 9-1-1. Focus on steady breathing and remain calm until help arrives. If you have prior medical conditions, advise the other driver or the 9-1-1 dispatcher so they can advise responding personnel.
When speaking with the officer, be as detailed as possible regarding the incident leading up to the motor vehicle accident. If you do not know the answer to a question, please advise you do not know and refrain from estimating. The officer will provide basic information regarding the incident including a report number, the officer name and badge number, and date and time of incident. This information will be sufficient for the insurance companies to file a claim. The accident report will not be able for review for 3 to 5 business days. The insurance company can contact the police department to obtain a copy of the report.
If you observe an accident, but are not involved:
If you observe a motor vehicle accident, and it is safe to do so, you may stop behind the accident and check for injuries. Ensure your vehicle is not creating a traffic hazard and is outside of the accident scene. Maintain safety when approaching an accident scene by being aware of other motorists in the area. Carefully approach the vehicles involved in the accident. If a subject is injured, and no other life threatening issues are apparent, leave the individual in the vehicle. You may maintain conversation with the subject and monitor arising issues. Contact 9-1-1 and be as detailed as possible regarding the accident. The 9-1-1 dispatcher will request the following information: specific location, vehicle description, injuries of involved parties, and any exigent circumstances such as an intoxicated driver, driver trapped in a vehicle, or vehicle fire. The dispatcher will request your name and phone number incase of further information needed. Please answer all questions to the best of your ability and remain on the line with the dispatcher until requested to end the call. If available to do so, remain on scene until the officer arrives, especially if you witnessed the accident. The officer may ask preliminary questions and allow you to leave upon his arrival.
If a motorist leaves the scene of an accident:
If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident or observe an accident in which the other driver leaves the scene, do not attempt to follow the motorist. To the best of your ability obtain specific details regarding the other vehicle. Obtaining the license plate number and state of issue is the best way to identify another vehicle; however the following information is also helpful: make and model of the vehicle, approximate year, color, any stickers or emblems specifically identifying that particular vehicle, and a description of the driver. If able, writing down a few notes while waiting on the officer to respond is beneficial to remembering the information. Contact 9-1-1 to have an officer respond and report the accident.
If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident on private property:
The Strafford Police Department will only respond for accidents on private property when: injuries are reported, a driver leaves the scene of the accident, an intoxicated driver is involved, a driver is uncooperative, damage is caused to property outside of the vehicles involved, or damage to the vehicles is extensive enough to prevent the vehicle from being moved. If any of these criteria are met, please contact 9-1-1 to have an officer respond.
If the accident on private property is only minor damage, it is suggested to exchange the following information.
- Name, address, and phone number of driver
- Name of other occupants in the vehicle
- Date of birth of driver
- Insurance company name, policy number, and phone number
- License plate number with state of issue
- Vehicle make, model, year, and color
- Any specific damage caused by the accident