Unfortunately, crashes happen on our roads. As a responsible driver, you need to know the signs that tell you when a crash scene is ahead and what your responsibilities are if you’re involved in a crash or if you come across a crash.

Crash warning signs

At a crash site the police may use signs, flashing lights and flares to warn approaching drivers.

When coming up to a crash site, slow down and drive carefully. The road may be blocked and there could be injured people lying on it.

Police put these signs near a crash site. They mean you must drive at 20km/h or less until you pass the crash site. Watch out for emergency workers and injured people.

Orange sign with a black border and black text saying crash. Attached to the right is a speed limit sign with a red circle border and black number 20 in the centre.

Orange sign with a black border and black text saying accident

This is a reflective warning triangle. It means there's a breakdown or crash ahead. Anyone can put a warning triangle on the side of the road to warn other road users.  

Orange reflective triangle with grey corners and a hollow middle

Reporting a crash

If you’re involved in a crash while driving, and you aren’t badly injured, the first thing you must do is stop and check to see if anyone is hurt and help them.

If someone is hurt, you must tell a police officer as soon as possible and no later than 24 hours after the crash.

If no one is hurt, you must give your name, address and plate number as soon as possible but no later than 48 hours after the crash to:

  • the owner or driver of any other vehicle that’s been damaged
  • the owner of any property that’s been damaged.

If you can’t find these people, you must tell a police officer as soon as possible and no later than 60 hours after the crash. If your vehicle is insured, tell your insurance company as soon as possible after the crash.

If it isn’t your vehicle and you’re asked, you must also give the name and address of the owner of the vehicle you’re driving.

Tips for dealing with crashes

If you’re first on the scene of a crash, your actions could help save the lives of the people involved and make it safer for other drivers coming across the crash scene.

Here are some things you can do to help make the crash scene safer:

  • Park your car in a safe spot, away from the crash area. Leave plenty of space for emergency vehicles to come and go, and for emergency workers to work in.
  • Switch on your car’s hazard warning lights.
  • If possible, put people or warning triangles on all approaches to the crash site to warn oncoming drivers. They should be about 200 metres from the crash site to give approaching drivers time to slow down.
  • If people are injured, call an ambulance as soon as possible.
  • Sometimes the airbags may not be deployed. Don’t get between any undeployed airbag and an injured or trapped person. Undeployed airbags can deploy with force some minutes after a crash and could injure you both.
  • If it’s safe to do, turn off the ignition of all vehicles involved in the crash.
  • If any vehicle involved in the crash has a dangerous goods sign, follow the instructions on crashes involving dangerous goods.


Dial 111 for emergency services.

Dial *555 to report traffic incidents.

Basic first aid

Ideally, you should enrol in a recognised first aid course to learn techniques such as primary assessments and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). This will make you more confident and capable of using first aid if you have to.

Try not to move injured people

If a victim has spinal injuries, moving them may make their injuries worse – never move a crash victim unless it’s absolutely necessary. You should only move someone before medical help arrives if:

  • the person is trapped in a vehicle on fire or in danger of catching fire
  • you need to move them to give CPR or stop severe bleeding.

If the crash victim is a motorcyclist, never remove their helmet.

Stopping severe bleeding

If the patient is bleeding badly, you should try to stop or reduce the bleeding. Put on gloves for protection, if possible, and apply direct pressure to the wound, preferably with thick, folded fabric, such as a towel or an item of clothing.

Crashes involving dangerous goods

Be very careful at a crash involving a vehicle carrying dangerous goods. Never make a rescue attempt unless you’re sure you won’t come into contact with dangerous substances. Don’t get close unless you know it’s safe.

The 4 main things to take note of when describing a dangerous goods sign to emergency services are:

  • Colour of the sign.
  • Picture inside the sign.
  • Wording inside the sign.
  • Class number.

a red diamond sign with a white border and a white picture of a flame and white text saying flammable liquid.

A white diamond sign with a black border, thick black vertical stripes covering the top half of the sign and black text saying miscellaneous dangerous goods and the number 9