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Car accident in Russia

Car accident in Russia

Even the best driver may find himself at the wrong time and in the wrong place. A moment of inattention (not necessarily ours) and boom – accident.

This is what happened to us on December 24, 2019, in Oktiabrsk, on the Volga River, a little bit east of Syzran, when, after seeing the longest railway bridge in Europe, we drove towards Togliatti. We calm down right away – it wasn’t like in the accident videos in Russia.

Lyubov Yevgenyenva (or Ljubov, daughter of Yevgeny was coming home as usual with her favourite Renault Duster, equipped with studded tyres. She was only 200 metres from her property. As usual, she cut the bend unconsciously and out of habit because nobody drives in the opposite direction at this time. Besides, it was the end of the village and the last four houses. She did not expect that her usual afternoon would be disturbed by a family from distant Poland, moving in the panzer Lada Niva. Unfortunately, after her typical drive through the wrong side of the lane, there was a clear trace left – thorn marks on the ice.

The rules are simple:
-1. We do not move the car to a safe place, even if we block the passage.
0. We take out the Green Card packed before departure
1. We call the insurance company to ask for instructions on how to proceed in accordance with our insurance policies.
2. We call the police because we need it.
3. Remember that at the border our car was photographed so that there was no discussion about where and when we damaged it.
4. When the police arrive, we cooperate.

The Police

First step: Call the police.

Don’t be afraid of the police. We really need them. And because on the border on the way back, we’ll probably hear a lot of questions about the poor condition of the car. It may also be a signal for the border guards that something bad has happened to a citizen of the Russian Federation, and after crossing the border it will not be easy to hold us responsible.
At the same time, even if we agree with a collision partner, and then he changes his mind and claims that it was our fault, we can be considered as fugitives. It’s not worth the risk.
In our case, the person calling the police was the Russian who caused the accident.

Contrary to popular opinions, police officers in Russia (or at least those with whom we had contact) approach the subject objectively. It is not that a Russian will go into denial and defend the Russian. In our case the incident was obvious. We were moving at a speed of no more than 10 km/h, Lyubov was cutting the turn, going against the current. To make it easier for everyone, she left a mark of braking (spikes on the ice). The fault on her side was undisputed, so there was nothing to discuss.

Insurance company

Second step: while waiting for the police, it is worthwhile to contact our insurer. That’s what we have it for. In our case, we have been informed about the procedure step by step. We have also been informed about what the insurer expects from us. If it was necessary, we would have legal assistance and an interpreter.

When the police finally arrived…

We waited about 1.5 hours for the officers. It took no more than 30 minutes to settle things.

Third step: meet the police.

The policeman wanted: driver’s license, registration card and green card.

He was not interested in the International Driving Licence (which has a translation into Russian). Our usual Polish plastic was enough. There was no need to show his passport or registration documents.

We weren’t checked with a breathalyzer. Nobody checked our triangle, first aid kit and fire extinguisher. We weren’t treated as potential perpetrators, the approach was impartial and professional.

There were clear traces (spikes reflected in the ice), and Duster had a damaged left corner. Niva right corner – which means that Duster was driving against the current.

Thus, two machines stood in their way: Russian and French technical thought. The result of the clash closed in favour of Russia.

We’re the ones who’ve been declared injured.

Our damage - cracked grill
Our damage – cracked grill
Cracked Renault Duster
Cracked Renault Duster

The police officers prepared documentation of the accident (situation drawings, testimonies of both parties). The documents were written in Russian. The interrogation was quite funny because we don’t know Russian, so there was a lot of waving hands, pantomime and making strange sounds. But on the basis of that, the policeman described our testimony. We had to sign our testimony, so we wrote that we were signing something in a foreign language, and we were not sure it was our testimony for sure.

Fourth step: collect your documents.

We left the place of the incident with a police report describing the collision, photos of the perpetrator’s driving license and a photo of her insurance policy.

If it was our fault, we would have wanted to use the help of an interpreter from the insurance company, and we would probably have to pay the fine in cash.


Lyubov Yevgenyenva came home two hours late. The ticket receipt was in her wallet. Not only will she have to fix Duster, but she also has to pay the fine. Before the accident, she wanted to buy herself a nice purse. The purse will wait.


Meanwhile, we had to catch up for two hours, because that day was Christmas Eve. We managed to make it to the first Star according to the traffic regulations.

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