In Canada alone, statistics show there are an estimated 160,000 vehicle accidents annually. And if you’ve ever found yourself stuck in traffic behind a car crash, you’re certainly not alone.
The average serious accident can take anywhere from 90 minutes all the way up to 12 hours to clear. And that’s because there is a long list of things that need to be done to ensure everybody’s safety at the scene and to help with insurance or legal issues following a crash. This includes a number of important tasks that police officers perform at every accident.
Here are five critical things that police do when they arrive at the scene of a car crash.
1. Ensure the Safety of Victims and Passersby
Car accidents don’t just impact those directly involved. They also pose a risk to passing vehicles or pedestrians due to the fact that traffic patterns are interrupted and people often slow down to take a look at what happened.
When police officers arrive on scene, safety is their first priority. This can involve making sure each person or vehicle involve moves to a safe area, as well as securing the scene with things like flares, safety signage, and traffic cones, such as channelizer cones. Doing so helps them alert passersby of the hazard and divert them away from the accident.
Officers may also be responsible for alerting additional responders, such as firefighters, paramedics, additional police, or utility workers to fix fire hydrants, power poles, or things of that nature that may have been disturbed.
2. Conduct a Thorough Investigation
Police officers responding to a vehicle accident are required to conduct an extensively thorough investigation in order to understand what happened and provide information as to who was at fault, if required.
This investigation includes gathering details like:
- The location, date and time, and information about those of involved
- Weather and road conditions
- When and how police were notified
- Types of vehicles involved
They will also speak with witnesses to get additional accounts of what transpired.
Police will also take photographs and document important things like if and where property damage occurred, the point of initial impact as well as vehicle trajectories and final positions, skid marks and scrapes, and other measurements. This all assists in accident recreation later on.
Most importantly, police protect and collect valuable and vulnerable evidence, such as puddles of gas or oil, the position of turn signals, or even things like alcohol bottles, if need be.
3. Distribute Citations and Make Arrests When Necessary
Depending on the accident, police may need to distribute citations from Multipart Ticket Books or even make arrests. Citations would be issued, and arrests made in the event that a driver was found to have been breaking the law during the course of the accident. Police officers also often carry mobile printers packed with E-Citation Paper Rolls that allow them to print full-page citations, documents, and even reports while at the scene of an accident.
Common violations at car accidents can include things like excessive speed or making an unlawful turn and can come with a hefty fine or deduction of points. These citations won’t definitively prove fault in an accident, but they can be used as evidence for insurance or court proceedings. The possibility of drivers operating their vehicles under the influence is also an unfortunate reality that officers are faced to contend with.
4. Help Communicate and Provide Comfort
Sometimes, police are in charge of notifying the family members of an accident victim if they’re been taken to the hospital. And other times, they simply provide comfort for those who have been shaken up as a result of their crash. While this may not seem like much, anyone who has been involved in a car accident knows just how scary it can be and how much a small gesture like a comforting conversation can truly be in those instances.
5. Coordinate Accident Clean-Up
Car crashes can make quite a mess. So, once the investigation is done, the evidence is collected, citations are distributed, and everyone has been tended to, there’s the big job of coordinating clean-up. This important responsibility often falls with police officers.
When a vehicle accident occurs, the process of clearing it can be time-consuming because there are so many important tasks to be taken care of. And for police officers, much of that vital responsibility falls with them.
At Northern Specialty Supplies, we proudly provide a wide array of policing and law enforcement products that help officers across the country to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their communities. To learn more, get in touch with us. Our team is on standby to answer any questions you may have.