New collision centre to handle routine fender-benders

Journal file photo

Troy Shantz

Officials say a new Collision Reporting Centre (CRC) at Sarnia Police headquarters could save the service as much as a 1,000 officer hours a year.

As of June 11, minor vehicle collisions in Sarnia are being reported through the Centre in a one-year pilot in partnership with Accident Support Services International Ltd. (ASSI). ASSI is operating the office and providing a clerk at the Christina Street police station Monday to Friday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The service, which is commonplace in many Ontario cities, should dramatically reduce the time that officers spend investigating minor collisions, said Inspector Jeff Hodgson.

Sarnia Police’s three traffic specialists report to about 1,000 minor collisions annually, which takes them off the street for at least one hour for every incident.

“To have that officer and that equipment tied up in a parking lot makes no sense, from a business model,” he said, pointing to the added paperwork.

Police will continue to investigate collisions resulting in injuries or property damage, criminal acts, and accidents involving city-owned vehicles, Hodgson said.

During the first month of operation officers will continue to attend accident scenes and direct those involved to the reporting centre, if necessary. Eventually, 911 operators will make a determination over the phone.

Motorists are only required to report collisions when damage exceeds $2,000, Hodgson said. Reporting must be done within 72 hours.

At the new reporting centre, the clerk will take photos of the damaged vehicles and create a report in about 15 minutes, Hodgson said. The centre has a direct link of communication with many insurance companies, which, he explained, greatly reduces fraud.

There is no cost to Sarnia Police for the centre, Hodgson added. In fact, ASSI is paying to be there, supported by affiliated insurance companies. The new CRC office adjoins the lobby at Sarnia Police headquarters.

Council recently approved dedicated parking space on Water Street for tow trucks transporting vehicles involved in collisions.

Up to three tow trucks can park there while being processed by the reporting centre, Hodgson said.

ASSI, a North York based firm, operates in over 30 Ontario municipalities, including Chatham-Kent, London and Woodstock.