From 15 October 2014, New South Wales has removed the requirement for those involved in a crash, which requires a tow truck, to remain at the scene until police arrive. These are not legislative changes, but operational changes by the Police to improve road safety. These changes are to help reduce the danger to others, and manage crash sites more effectively. Therefore, in NSW you may no longer have to wait for the police at a crash site. The police will now, in most circumstances for tow away accidents, not investigate who was at fault. They still retain the discretion to investigate, and lay charges if necessary, but this will only be done if the circumstances of the accident warrant it. If you believe that there was reckless, or dangerous driving involved you can report this to the police, and they will investigate as normal. All tow away accidents still need to be reported to the Police.
When will the Police have to attend?
The police only have to attend motor vehicle accidents if they are considered a ‘Major Traffic Crash’. This is if anyone is trapped, or injured in the accident; if any driver appears to be affected by alcohol or drugs; or if anyone involved has failed to exchange details. The police will also attend if there are traffic hazards and the police need to direct traffic; if there is aggressive or violent behaviour; or if a bus or truck needs to be towed. If any of these have occurred you must ring the police immediately on 000, and wait at the accident site. If the police have attended, and written up a crash incident report, a copy of this can be obtained by submitting ‘P862 Application for incident Report’ form to the NSW Police via their Insurance Services Unit.
What to do if the Police are not required to attend?
If the police are not required to attend you must contact your insurer, or a towing company, and arrange for your vehicle to be removed. After the vehicle is removed you must report the accident to the Police Assistance Line on 131 444. You can also call this line, if you are unable to arrange for a tow, and need assistance. You must also remember to exchange details with the other drivers involved before leaving the scene of the accident. After you have reported the incident to the police you will be given a report number to provide to your insurer. As has always been the case, it is up to the insurance companies, or legal representatives, to establish fault. The changes to the police not having to attend at all tow away accidents will not impact on the determination of fault. The insurance companies only use the police report as one tool to establish fault, and will undergo their own investigations.
What to do after a car crash?
To assist with what to do after a car crash the NSW police have produced a flyer which can be printed, and kept in your vehicle. Following the instructions on the flyer will assist you in obtaining all the necessary details required, and to ensure the proper procedures are followed. It is important to get any witnesses details in case you require their testimony later to assist in establishing fault. If you have any doubt you can ring the police assistance line, and they will determine if the police have to attend. There is also an Emergency+ App that can be downloaded to your smart phone. The app was developed by the SES as part of the Triple Zero Awareness Working Group. The app allows you the ability to directly dial the correct number for help in emergency situations. It also assists in providing your GPS coordinates to emergency services, if required. This is especially useful if you have an accident on a part of a road you are not familiar with, and are unsure exactly how to direct police to your location. The GPS provides emergency services with latitude and longitude coordinates, a street address, and a map image. These details are only submitted to emergency services when you request it to do so. It is not a tracking device.