Toronto police have recently changed the way they are responding to traffic collisions. In the last year alone, they arrived at the scene of approximately 64,000 traffic accidents within the city limits, which is an increase of 6,000 from two years previously. About 70% of these calls were for minor fender benders, and did not require police presence.
“We can’t keep up with the current rate of collisions that are increasing year after year, with the sheer number of vehicles that are coming into the city,” says Constable Clint Stibbe. Since the beginning of April 2016, Toronto police no longer dispatch a police officer to investigate a property damage collision or minor personal injury collision, with some notable exceptions.
What kind of collision is considered major enough to require police presence?
- If there is evidence of criminality and/or violent reactions.
- If a driver involved does not have a license or has a suspended license.
- If there is evidence of alcohol or drugs involved.
- If there is an injury causing an individual to be transported to a hospital.
- If there is a cyclist or a pedestrian involved.
- If there is suspected to be more than $2000.00 worth of damage to a vehicle.
If you are involved in an accident in which there is only minor damage to a vehicle, there is no evidence of criminal intent, and there are no injuries (or the injuries are minor enough to not require immediate medical attention), the police may not show up to the scene, and instead redirect you to the collision reporting centre.
This leaves a lot of the judgment in the hands of the drivers involved in the collision, which has received some criticism. Daniel Michaelson from Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers points out some circumstances in which a driver or passenger involved in a collision may not realize how serious their injuries are. “What if you’ve broken a wrist or something and don’t even appreciate the nature of the injury because of the shock and adrenaline?” he asks.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are involved in a collision and you suspect your injuries are worse than they initially appear, you can of course still call the police. Over the phone, dispatch will help to determine if an officer needs to come to the scene. If in doubt, it’s better to call the police and get a proper investigation completed than wait until later when you realize that your injuries and the damage to the vehicle are more serious than you thought. As in any traffic collision, make a thorough record of everything that was said, and take photos of the damage and any injuries you sustained, in case it does turn out to be more serious later.