B.C. government introduces sweeping changes aimed at quickly clearing highway accident scenes

WATCH: The NDP has changed the rules on when police can clear an accident before writing a report, which it says will make the roads run smoother. Paul Johnson reports.

The province announced major changes Friday to its motor vehicle accident reporting protocols, which the public safety minister says will help police clear accidents faster.

Under the new rules, police will only have to write a report at the scene of a crash before clearing it from the road if the damage exceeds $10,000 and if there are any injuries.

Up until now, the threshold has been just $1,000 — even if no one had been hurt. The caps were even lower for motorcycle crashes — $600 — and bicycles, which needed just $100 damage before a report was needed.

READ MORE: Province ramping up towing to clear bridges between North Shore and Vancouver while ruling out third span

“Having traffic back up because of a fender-bender or other minor collision where nobody was hurt doesn’t help anyone, and it can also lead frustrated drivers to take steps that are unsafe,” Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said.

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“So increasing the damage threshold for these kinds of crashes is long overdue and will allow people and police officers to move damaged vehicles out of the way without delay.”

Farnworth said the move will allow high-traffic and unsafe areas like bridge decks and highways to flow more smoothly.

WATCH: (Aired Oct. 24, 2018) Jordan Armstrong reports on new rules meant to ease congestion on North Shore bridges

Changes made to help clear North Shore bridge crashes faster
Changes made to help clear North Shore bridge crashes faster

Police will still have to file a written report with ICBC for every crash they attend that results in death or injury.

BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson said the move was a good one, but doesn’t go far enough.

“We should be looking at what California, Florida, Connecticut and Arizona have, which is a ‘move-over’ law,” Wilkinson said. “That requires drivers to move their vehicles out of the line of traffic before the police arrive.”

The opposition leader also said more needs to be done to improve roads and bridge infrastructure in the Lower Mainland to deal with congestion.

READ MORE: B.C. government rolling back speed limits on 15 highway stretches in the province

The change is the latest one the province has made to try and improve both traffic flow and accident-clearing.

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New rules introduced in November of last year saw increased standby hours for tow trucks stationed at both the Lions Gate and Ironworkers Memorial bridges connecting the North Shore to Vancouver.

Those rules also identify the type of tow trucks stationed at both crossings, and ensure a large wrecker is available for removing commercial vehicles and buses.

—With files from Paul Johnson and Richard Zussman

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