California Driver Handbook - Important Driving Tips
An "accident" implies an unforeseen event that occurs without anyone’s fault or negligence. Most often in traffic, that is not the case.
If you see a vehicle’s hazard lights ahead, slow down. There may be a collision or other road emergency ahead. Stop and give assistance if asked by anyone, or pass very carefully.
Avoid driving near collisions, if you can. Those injured will be helped faster if other vehicles aren’t blocking the road. If you must drive near a collision, do not stop or slow down just to look. You may cause another crash. Drive by carefully, watching for people in the road.
The most common causes of collisions are:
- Unsafe speed.
- Driving on the wrong side of the road.
- Improper turns.
- Violating the right-of-way rules.
- Violating stop signals and signs.
- Driver distractions.
If you are involved in a collision:
- You must stop. Someone could be injured and need your help. If you do not stop, you may be convicted of "hit and run" and could be severely punished.
- Call 9-1-1, if anyone is hurt.
- Move your vehicle out of the traffic lane if no one is injured or killed.
- Show your driver license, registration card, evidence of financial responsibility, and current address to the other driver, persons involved, or police officer.
- You (or your insurance agent, broker, or legal representative) must make a written report to the police or CHP within 24 hours of the collision if someone is killed or injured.
- You (or your insurance agent, broker, or legal representative) must make a written report to the DMV within 10 days.
- If you hit a parked vehicle or other property, leave a note with your name, phone number, and address in or securely attached to the vehicle or property you hit. Report the collision to the city police or, in unincorporated areas, to the CHP.
- If your parked car rolls away and hits another vehicle, try to find the owner and report the incident to authorities as mentioned above.
- If you kill or injure an animal, call the nearest humane society, the police, or CHP. Do not try to move an injured animal or leave an injured animal to die.
When you have a collision, report it to the DMV within 10 days if:
- More than $750 in damage was done to the property of any person.
- Anyone was injured (no matter how slightly) or killed.
Each driver (or the driver’s insurance agent, broker, or legal representative) must file a report with the DMV using the Report of Traffic Accident Occurring in California (SR 1) form. Go online at www.dmv.ca.gov or call 1-800-777-0133 and ask for the SR 1 form. The CHP or police will not make this report for you.
You or your representative must make this report whether or not you caused the collision, even if the collision occurred on private property.
Your driving privilege will be suspended:
- If you do not make this report.
- For up to four years, if you did not have proper insurance coverage. During the last three years of the suspension, your driver license can be returned to you if you provide a California Insurance Proof Certificate (SR 22) and maintain it during the three-year period.