Theory Test Topics Explained: Incidents, Accidents and Emergencies

Incidents accidents and emergencies

Greetings, PassMeFast readers! It’s gotten to that time of the month again—we’re back with the next instalment in our Theory Test Topics Explained series. For the uninitiated, this series hones in on the topics that make up the theory test. Get to know them inside and out and you’ll be that much more likely to pass your theory test first time. This month, we’re focusing on the fifth topic out of the fourteen used in the DVSA’s question bank: incidents, accidents and emergencies.

We’ll explain what this topic is, share example questions and case studies, and also offer up some handy revision resources!

Table of contents: 

Theory Test Topic: Incidents, accidents and emergencies

Incidents accidents and emergencies featured image

The fifth topic from the multiple-choice section of the theory test is incidents, accidents and emergencies. Let’s face it, out of all of the topics we’ve looked at so far, this has to be the most straightforward. The roads can be an unpredictable and dangerous place—accidents happen, unfortunately. That’s why it’s important that you know how to respond to these situations safely, from knowing how to report an incident to safely carrying out first aid.

Though it sounds easy enough, there’s a lot that goes into this particular topic. It’s for that reason that we’ve broken down the theory test topic incidents, accidents and emergencies into smaller sections. Take your time when reading through these passages—you’ve got to ace our mock tests further below after all!

✓ Accident scenes

If you’re driving and you spot an accident scene, you should stop your vehicle when possible and immediately call emergency services. If someone is injured, you’re legally required to call the police—you should, of course, also call for an ambulance.

Once you’ve done so, you need to get out of your vehicle and switch off the ignition of all of the cars at the scene to avoid any further accidents. You also need to make sure that other road users are aware of the accident scene. The best way to do this is by switching on your hazard warning lights and, if you have them, setting up warning triangles.

If there are any uninjured parties at the accident scene, get them to move towards a safe and clear area. If you spot anyone suffering from an injury inside a car, you should keep them there as long as it’s safe to do so. You don’t want to exacerbate their injuries.

Though it’s important that you do all of the above, you should also make sure that you’re not putting yourself at risk by doing so—if you think it’s too dangerous to do so, wait for the emergency services to show up.

If you’re directly involved in an accident 

If you’re involved in an accident that causes damage to another person, vehicle, animal or property, then you’re legally required to stop and give your details to anyone who might require them. This would include:

  • Your name
  • Vehicle owner
  • Make and model of the vehicle
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Insurance details

It also works the other way around—don’t forget to take the above details from the other driver if necessary. If you’ve damaged a property, you’ll need to inform the owner. If you don’t do this immediately, you will need to report it to the police within 24 hours.

The police might also ask to look at your driving licence, insurance documents and MOT certificate if you’re involved in an accident. If you don’t have them all to hand, you’ll have to take them to your local police station.

✓ First aid

When you encounter an accident scene, it’s likely that you might have to deal with injured people. It’s important, then, that you know how to carry out safe and effective first aid. Below, we’ll take you through what steps you should take, depending on the type of injuries you’re dealing with.


You need to apply pressure to the wound and, if you can, elevate it. If there’s anything embedded in the wound, make sure you don’t press down on it as you apply pressure. Do not remove the object. Instead, apply pressure on either side of it and, if possible, place padding around it and bandage it up.


Try to cool the burn if you can, with clean liquid for at least 10 minutes. You should not, under any circumstances, remove anything that has stuck to the burn. This could make things worse and cause the victim immense pain.

Signs of shock

You need to keep an eye out for any signs of shock amongst injured parties. These signs include: pale, grey skin and sweating. If you spot these signs, comfort the individual and reassure them. You’ll want to avoid moving them. Instead, keep them warm and do not leave them alone.


If you come across anyone who is unconscious you need to immediately check whether or not they’re breathing for at least 10 seconds. You can do this by leaning over so that your cheek hovers over their mouth and nose. Also make sure to glance at their chest to see if it’s rising and falling.

If they’re not breathing, you’ll need to start chest compressions at a rate of 100 per minute and four to five centimetres in depth. If you’re dealing with a child that isn’t breathing, you’ll need to be gentle when breathing into their mouth.

It’s important to check that their airway is clear. You should be able to tell if it isn’t, as you’ll likely hear snoring or strange noises. If this is the case, try to see if there’s an obvious obstruction. If you can’t, tilt their head back slightly.


If you’re dealing with an unconscious motorcyclist, the safest course of action is to leave them where they are unless it’s too dangerous—any unnecessary movement could worsen their injuries. Do not remove their helmet, as they could be dealing with a neck injury.

You should follow the same course of action if you’re dealing with someone with a suspected back injury. Leave them where they are, keep them company and wait for emergency services to show up.


Though we’ve mentioned this in the accident scene section, we’ll emphasise it again here: you need to warn traffic to stop them from getting too close to any injured parties. Use your hazard warning lights and warning triangles if you have them.

You need to keep injured parties warm and be sure not to leave them alone. You should not give them food, drink or cigarettes.

✓ Breakdowns

If you end up breaking down on the road, the first thing you need to do is pull over safely and turn on your hazard warning lights. This will warn other road users that your vehicle has broken down and that they will need to reduce their speed or change directions in order to avoid colliding with you. If you have one, you could also set up a warning triangle.

You will need to get out of your vehicle when it’s safe to do so and get in touch with your breakdown provider. They will then be able to tell you how long it will take for someone to come out and assess your situation.

Sounds simple enough, right? Well, it can also vary depending on what road type you’re driving on.


If you’re unlucky enough to break down on a motorway, you need to pull over onto the hard shoulder. Once it’s safe to do so, get out of your vehicle and find an emergency telephone—you’ll find marker posts every 100 metres away. The police or the Highway Agency will then respond. You will need to provide them with:

  • The number on the phone (telling them where you are)
  • Any relevant information about yourself and your vehicle (why it broke down, whether you’re alone or with passengers)
  • Whether you have a breakdown provider

Once that’s sorted, they’ll be able to tell you what your next course of action should be.

If you spot luggage falling from other vehicles, or your own, you should also pull onto the hard shoulder and report it with an emergency telephone. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to retrieve the luggage yourself.

Level crossings

As you can probably imagine, a breakdown on a level crossing can be extremely dangerous, so you need to be on the ball if it ends up happening to you.

If you break down on a level crossing, you need to get out of your vehicle immediately—making sure that your passengers follow suit. Once you’ve done so, make sure that you’re far away from the vehicle in a safe place. Next, get in touch with the signal operator ASAP to let them know what has happened. You should only move your vehicle if they tell you to.

Long tunnels

When travelling through a long tunnel, you’ll need to switch on your dipped headlights as visibility can be severely reduced. You should also keep your eyes peeled for any signs that warn of accidents or congestion up ahead.

Given the reduced visibility (even with your lights on) it can be difficult to gauge how clear the tunnel is up ahead. With that in mind, you should always try to keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the one in front—if you’re too close and they end up stopping suddenly due to an unexpected obstruction, you’ll end up colliding.

If you end up breaking down in a long tunnel, you should immediately turn on your hazard warning lights and call your breakdown provider. If your vehicle somehow catches fire, you will need to drive it out of the tunnel if you can. Obviously, if it’s far too dangerous for you to do so, you should switch on your hazard warning lights and get out of the vehicle. Then, if possible, extinguish the fire.

Struggling to remember all of the sub topics for incidents, accidents and emergencies? We’re way ahead of you! Just check out the quick summary below!

Incidents accidents and emergencies rules

Example questions featured image

Multiple-choice questions

In case you weren’t aware, the theory test is broken up into two separate sections: the multiple-choice test and the hazard perception test. The multiple-choice section consists of 50 questions in total. If you want to pass, you’ll need to get at least 43 right. The key to theory test success, however, is revising each theory test topic so that you’re prepared for whatever might come your way.

If you’ve made your way through the above sections carefully, you should now be relatively familiar with the theory test topic incidents, accidents and emergencies. To be sure, however, you’ll want to test your mettle with our handy quiz. Good luck!

For the most part, this topic relies on your ability to carefully assess the situation and choose the safest course of action. If you end up struggling with any of these questions, you just need to ask yourself, which choice will help me avoid making the situation worse for myself and others? Nine times out of ten, that’ll help you make the right decision.

Let us know how many questions you got right in the comment section below!

Case studies

If you’ve been revising for the theory test, you’ll notice that some websites and revision resources offer up case studies for revision. This is because the multiple-choice section used to contain a written case study at the end. You would have to read through the case study and then answer three questions. Now, however, the written case study has been changed to a video.

Towards the end of the multiple-choice section, you’ll have to watch a short video and then answer three questions. For all intents and purposes, this video is a written case study brought to life. That’s why you shouldn’t skip any case studies that you come across. It’s important that you know how to apply your newfound knowledge to real-life scenarios.

To help you properly prepare for the type of questions that might crop up in your video case study, we’ve put together five written case studies for the theory test topic incidents, accidents and emergencies. Good luck!

Like the multiple-choice questions, the case studies are relatively straightforward. The majority of the questions can simply be answered by finding the safest course of action. The minority, however, will rely on the knowledge that you’ve memorised, so you’ll need to make sure you revise the topic thoroughly.

Let us know how many questions you got right in the comment section below!

How to revise incidents, accidents and emergencies

Two stacks of books, one taller than the other, each with a car on top, floating in clouds

Now that you’ve made your way through our guide, you should be able to safely assess an incident, accident or emergency scene—knowing what to do to keep yourself and others safe, when to contact emergency services and how to carry out first aid. To ensure you’ve truly grasped the topic, however, you’ll want to do some additional revision.

To help you get to grips with the topic properly, we’ve put together some handy tests:

If you’re looking to ace the theory test though, you’ll need to put in the work. Start off by creating a theory test revision timetable. Then, using the free and paid resources in our handy theory test revision resources guide, start to build up your knowledge and test yourself any chance you get.

If you’d like to see what it’s actually like revising for the theory test, you can check out my article on how I passed my theory test first time.

Looking for more? Check out our other theory test topic breakdown instalments:

By Bethany Hall

Whether you’re a learner or a pro driver, Bethany is here to help. From defensive driving to the Highway Code, she’ll tell you everything you need know about driving. If she’s not on the road, you’ll probably find Bethany with her head in a book or binge-watching the latest TV show.

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