1. Mr. C’s vehicle accidentally collided with another vehicle. Both drivers stopped, got out of their vehicles and quarreled. In the heat of the incident, the driver of the other vehicle did not ask Mr. C to give particulars, but did tell Mr. C to remain at the scene to wait for the police. Mr. C, who had to attend an important meeting, then left the scene. The other driver, however, managed to remember the registration mark of Mr. C’s vehicle and reported the same to the police. The police had no difficulty in locating Mr. C in his office within just one hour. During the interview with the police, Mr. C told everything in detail to the police. Under such circumstances, what are Mr. C’s liabilities (if any) under section 56 of the Road Traffic Ordinance (Cap.374 of the Laws of Hong Kong)?
Obviously Mr. C had stopped. But as discussed above, “stop” means to stop and to remain at the scene of the accident for a period long enough for anyone to obtain from the driver the necessary particulars. Therefore, even though the driver of the other vehicle did not ask Mr. C for particulars, Mr. C had to stay and wait for the police. In other words, Mr. C did not comply with the duty to “stop” under section 56(1) of the Road Traffic Ordinance(Cap.374 of the Laws of Hong Kong). When Mr. C was approached by the police, he fully co-operated and gave all particulars to the police. It is therefore likely that Mr. C would not be prosecuted under section 56(2) of the same Ordinance, i.e. under the duty to give particulars. What about the duty to report an accident under section 56(2A)? If Mr. C did not give particulars at the scene of the accident, he was supposed to report to the police as soon as reasonably practicable and in any case not later than 24 hours after the accident. But since the police located Mr. C and obtained particulars from him in just one hour, could Mr. C argue that there was no duty to report under such circumstances? It should be noted that the words “in any case not later than 24 hours after the accident” do not mean that a driver can wait till the last minute of that 24 hours to report; he must report as soon as reasonably practicable. In Mr. C’s case, obviously he did not report immediately. But since the police had obtained particulars from him within just one hour, it was arguable that there was no further need to comply with the duty to report under section56(2A). In this situation, Mr. C should at least have made a phone call to the police within that one hour—although a report by telephone does not satisfy the legal duty to report in person—to explain why he could not report immediately and to show that in any case he intends to report.