Highway Code: Changes to First Aid on the Road

On the 20th of August 2019, the Highway Code (Annex 7) was updated. The key change was that burns should be cooled for at least 20 minutes (up from 10 minutes), following advice from the British Burn Association.

We welcome these life-saving changes and urge all road users to review and share the updated information.

Annex 7 covers processes for dealing with danger, getting help in an accident and providing temporary care until emergency services arrive. Annex 7 covers 6 key areas:

Always be Prepared

Drivers should always care a first aid kit and are encouraged to learn first aid from a suitable qualified body, such as the First Aid Training Co-operative.

Dealing with Danger

The Highway Code explains that the biggest risks following a crash are further collisions and fire. It recommends:

  • Approach crashed vehicles with car, avoiding spilt oil or broken glass
  • Turn off engines and where possible, warn other traffic
  • If you are in a vehicle, turn on your hazard warning lights
  • Stop anyone from smoking
  • Put on gloves from your first aid kit

Getting Help

Getting in contact with emergency services is critical:

  • Get someone (or yourself) to call 999 or 112 immediately
  • Let the emergency services know the exact location of the incident (including traffic direction) and how many vehicles were involved
  • Try to give information about the casualties. For example, if someone is bleeding heavily, is trapped or is having trouble breathing

Giving safe and appropriate assistance

There is a risk of doing more harm than good:

  • DO NOT move casualties from vehicles UNLESS there is a risk of further danger
  • DO NOT remove a motorcyclists helmet unless essential
  • Keep casualties as comfortable as you can
  • Reassure casualties with confidence
  • DO NOT leave casualties alone or let them walk away
  • DO NOT give casualties food or drink

Providing Emergency Care

The Highway Code gives basic first aid guidance following DRABC, but we recommend attending a short course.

You can see our explanation of DRABC and why we recommend A.B.C instead here:

Dealing with Burns

The Highway Code states that road users should:

  • Put out any flames, taking care for your own safety.
  • Cool the burn for at least 20 minutes with plenty of clean, cool water.
  • Cover the burn with cling film if available.
  • DO NOT try to remove anything that’s sticking to the burn.

Our article on Bonfire Night safety shares additional tips of dealing with burns: