As Alberta drivers battled heavy snow and high winds on Tuesday, many found themselves stalled out or in collisions on Calgary area roads and highways.
With winter fast approaching, here are some tips and best practices on what to do if you’re in a car crash.
When should you report a traffic collision?
According to the Calgary Police Service, if there are any injuries, if you’ve been involved in a hit and run, or if the damage to your vehicle exceeds $2,000, you should contact the police. In Calgary, you can report the collision by calling either 403-266-1234 or 911. In Edmonton, drivers can also call 911 or 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone.
If there are no injuries, Calgary drivers are advised to head to a district officer with the vehicle involved in the collision and the person involved, and make sure to bring along your driver’s licence, registration and proof of insurance.
The Edmonton Police Service advises drivers to avoid immediately moving their vehicles. They say to exchange information with the other driver involved in the crash, including name, licence number, licence plate number, registration and insurance information.
Drivers are also advised to take photos of the damage to their vehicles before they’re moved.
CPS also said independent witnesses can add essential, unbiased information to your report.
What if the other driver won’t exchange information?
If you’re involved in a crash and the other driver won’t exchange their information with you, the CPS advises explaining to the other person they’re required by law to offer their information no matter — who was at fault.
If the person is belligerent or impaired, police say it’s best to call 911. In other cases, call the non-emergency line at 403-266-1234.
WATCH: Global News Morning Calgary’s Doug Vaessen talks about how the city is dealing with Tuesday’s snow dump.
Police say to make detailed notes about the other driver and their vehicle, and either note or take a photo of their license plate if possible.
When do you contact your insurance provider?
According to Ron Wilson with the Alberta Motor Association (AMA), you should let your insurance company know as soon as it’s safe to do so.
Wilson said even if the collision seems minor and you don’t feel injuried, drivers should contact them anyway.
“You never know, you may get up the next day and your neck is stiff or something like that and you thought you were OK, so it’s important to contact the insurance company and tell them you’ve had a crash,” he said.
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Photos of the other vehicle, photos of the area or intersection, names and numbers of witnesses, as well as details like direction of travel also help with the claim process, Wilson said.
Your case number and driver/witness statement — which should be given when you file your collision report to police — can then be submitted at www.ecollision.gov.ab.ca. This will generate the complete collision report form, which can then be given to your insurance provider. The Calgary Police Service said it can take up to 24 hours for the collision report to appear on the website. If it’s not there 24 hours later, drivers are advised to contact the officer who took the report.
If you don’t have access to a computer, a paper copy of your collision report form can be picked up at a local police station or by mail.
Should I move my vehicle?
If there are any injuries, police and insurance companies say to avoid getting out of your vehicle or trying to move the vehicles involved in the collision.
However, it’s important to make the collision scene as safe as possible, so if possible, the vehicles should be moved off the road to a safer spot.
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Wilson said AMA’s advice is to have at least one car-length between you and the next vehicle for every 10 kilometres of a posted speed limit. So on a major 100 km/h thoroughfare like Calgary’s Deerfoot Trail, Wilson said there should be 10 car-lengths between the collision scene and the other traffic going by. He added it’s highly unlikely a highway would be a safe place to get out of your vehicle, so calling 911 would be better.
More information on the duties of a driver involved in a collision can be found in the Alberta Traffic Safety Act.
How do I know if the damage exceeds $2,000?
Police and insurance providers say you should report a collision if the damage to either vehicle exceeds $2,000, but sometimes it can be hard to tell.
According to AMA, an auto-body shop won’t repair your vehicle if the damages are more than $2,000, so if you’re unsure, head to a local shop to get an estimate.
“If you think it’s close to the $2,000 mark, go to the police station and report it,” Wilson said.