DfT plans digital traffic accident reporting services for police and public
Department for Transport kicks off 12-week consultation process
The government plans to offer citizens and police officers new digital ways of reporting traffic accidents.
The Department for Transport has commenced a 12-week consultation on plans to launch an online service allowing citizens to report to the police a collision in which they have suffered an injury or their vehicle has sustained damage.
Under current rules, such accidents must be reported in person to an officer. If police attend an accident, this can be done at the roadside. But, if this is not possible, anyone wishing to report an accident must do so at a police station within 24 hours of the crash taking place.
“This does not reflect the 21st-century capability to provide information in ways that better suit the citizen, and it ties up police time,” said road safety minister Jesse Norman, in his introduction to the Department for Transport’s consultation paper. “As well as improving the service to the public, more efficient collection of accident data also holds out the possibility of more effective use of that data. By using the data to establish trends, we will be able to develop better-informed policy, highway authorities will be better able to think about road design, and the police will be better able to spot fraud.”
Norman added: “This consultation invites you to inform us how you think such a change would work. I encourage you to respond.”
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The government claimed that, of the 130,000 road accidents that cause an injury and are reported to police each year, about one in five requires a citizen to visit a police station afterwards. A further 55,000 incidents involving vehicle damage are reported over the counter, meaning that an online reporting service could collectively save the public a yearly total of about 85,000 trips to police stations. If an online reporting service is ultimately launched, citizens will still be able to pay a visit to the police to report accidents in person, if they so wish, the government said.
In addition to an online reporting service for the public, the government is also planning to equip police officers with an app – the Collision Reporting and Sharing System (CRASH) – through which they can supply details of accidents. In addition to saving time, the ability to use a handheld device to log reports will ensure that accurate location details are recorded, the government said.
CRASH was developed by the Department for Transport, and will be offered to police forces for free. All forces will be able to adopt both the app and an online reporting service for citizens if the consultation, which runs until 24 April, shows that such measures have public support.
Chief constable Anthony Bangham, roads policing lead for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said: “We always welcome ideas which enable the public to be better served. Online collision reporting will greatly benefit members of the public and also enable officers to deal more quickly with their collision reports, meaning they can spend less time on paperwork, and more time on police work.”
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