Springfield officers say a change in non-injury crash response will save time for citizens and officers alike, though some local insurance agents said it could create frustration as well.
The new practice will operate much the way the department conducts response during "Emergency Status," starting Aug. 1. According to a statement from the police department, the change comes after this past winter, when harsh weather conditions prompted police to go into emergency status for traffic response.
"For non-injury crashes, a citizen can actually wait a period of time because officers are on other calls before the officer gets there," SPD Major Kirk Manlove said. "It takes us about an hour to work each crash. And so it will save us about 2,600 officer hours that we can use for proactive traffic enforcement."
When the status is in effect, citizens involved in vehicle crashes are instructed to exchange information with other drivers involved and make walk-in crash reports as all involved vehicles are operable, there are no injuries present, and none of the involved drivers are alcohol or drug-impaired.
Officers said this protocol let the police department use its resources wisely in times of high call volume and caused the department to reevaluate its response to motor vehicle crashes on days when weather isn’t a factor.
In 2013, the police department responded to 4,913 non-injury crashes, which does not include fatalities, injury crashes, hit-and-runs or walk-in reports. In a review of police response to those crashes, the average time spent on travel and on-scene work was 67 minutes, according to the department.
If the following conditions exist, then no police response is required, and no crash report will be completed by officers:
- No injuries are involved.
- All vehicles involved are operable and don’t need to be towed.
- It resulted in no damage to public or private property.
- No alcohol/drug-impaired drivers are involved.
- No driver leaves before exchanging information.
- All drivers have valid proof of insurance.
Police said motorists are advised to exchange information with one another and make a Citizens Crash Report.
The information that should be exchanged includes the name, address, vehicle information including license plate and driver’s license numbers, and insurance information.
Local insurance agents told KOLR 10 that the lack of a third-party determining fault can create frustration in the claim-filing process, saying a "he said-she said" crash could hit a driver's wallet and possibly drive up rates.
Crash report forms can be found at the SPD Headquarters, 321 E. Chestnut Expressway, or the South District Station, 2620 W. Battlefield, on the SPD’s website or at any Springfield library.
Completed forms can be returned in person to either SPD station, by mailing to Headquarters or emailing to CentralRecords@springfieldmo.gov.
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