Almost one-in-five admit they would ‘dent and dash’
11th September 2019
If someone had a prang with your car in a car park and you returned to find a dent, you would also hope to find the drivers details left on your windscreen. However, a study by YourParkingSpace.co.uk, found that almost one-in-five motorists admitted they would drive away without leaving any details.
This would count as an offence under the Road Traffic Act (1998), which states "If you’re driving a motorised vehicle and are involved in an accident which causes damage or injury to another person, vehicle, property or animal, you must stop and give your vehicle registration along with your name and address to 'anyone with reasonable grounds to be asking for those details'."
If someone fails to give their details at the time of the accident for any reason, they must report it to the police within 24 hours.
What happens if someone drives away without leaving their details?
Those who leave the scene without providing their details or reporting the incident to the police could find themselves being prosecuted for two criminal offences: failure to stop, and failure to report. With many CCTV cameras operating in car parks and potential witnesses, this could easily become a reality. The penalty for these offences can be huge, with each including a maximum fine of £5,000 and five to ten penalty points. The court will also have the power to disqualify the offender from driving, which is likely if prosecuted for both offences for the same incident.
The study revealed that one-in-ten drivers have actually dented another car whilst parking and that more than a third claim to have seen someone else denting another vehicle. The good news, however, is that over half said they would intervene if they saw someone cause damage to another car.
We can all imagine how it would feel to return to your car and be faced with a bill for damage that wasn’t your fault – all because the person liable selfishly drove away. It’s important we don’t lose sight of this if we happen to be the person who accidentally caused the damage.
Accidents can happen, and if you cause damage to someone else’s car whilst parking, its your responsibility to follow the correct procedure.
What if nobody is there?
The complication of hitting a car in a car park is that the vehicle’s owner may not be there to exchange information with. If this is the case, you should leave a note securely under their windscreen wiper - so it doesn’t blow away. It’s also worth leaving a copy of the note with the shop or car park security in case the weather conditions ruin the note.
Simply explain what has happened and include your name, registration number and contact details so you can discuss how you want to resolve any damage. If you are not the owner of the vehicle, you will also need to provide the owner’s name and address.
What should you record?
Make sure to note all relevant information down for yourself, including the make, model, colour and registration of the car involved, the date and time of the incident, any details of the damage and how it happened, as well as any special circumstances that may have contributed to the incident (slippery surface, poor lighting etc.). If you have a smartphone to hand, take some photos of the damage to your car and any others involved. Take close-ups and wide shots where the registration number of the vehicle can be seen. The contact details of any witnesses will also be useful.
Don’t invalidate your cover
Your car insurance policy will typically state that you need to tell your insurer about any accident, however minor, and regardless of whether a claim is going to be made. Your insurer will have a time-period that you must report any incidents within, so ensure you let them know as soon as possible. If you are looking to settle the damages privately, make it clear to your insurance provider that you are letting them know for ‘information only’.