The centres are for individuals who’ve been involved in minor collisions. Instead of reporting the crash at an Edmonton Police Service front counter or waiting for police at the collision site, drivers will go to a collision reporting centre and staff will help them complete the police report. The process will include taking pictures of vehicle damage and contacting family members and insurance providers.
EPS counters will no longer process collision reports.
“That’s the message we got to get out to Edmontonians: let’s get them off the street, let’s get them to a safe place,” Edmonton police chief Dale McFee said.
“Let’s get them with professionals that are going to give them good customer service, that are going to make their turnaround time sooner than if they were waiting in a front office that’s balancing the priorities of the assaults, the mischiefs, the frauds. This is an exclusive centre to deal with accidents and they’re experts. It’s like anything else, it’ll take some time, there will be some bumps in the road, but based on history and study and best practices, it’s actually far much more efficient than what we’re doing currently.”
One centre is located at 15750 – 116 Ave. in north Edmonton and the other is on the south side at 5805 – 87A St. They will be open Monday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. They will be closed on statutory holidays.
EPS is working with Accident Support Services International Ltd. (ASSI) on the centres. ASSI is a management company that bridges police and insurance providers by providing post-collision assistance to drivers. It currently operates 41 collision reporting centres across Canada.
“This allows the public to come in at their convenience, within 24 hours,” ASSI president Steve Sanderson said.
“The centre also provides early contact between drivers and insurance companies, which speeds up the claims process and delivers additional customer service. So while you’re in the centre, if you wish to report to your insurer, we electronically send that to your insurance company.”
Technology has come a long way since the time of paper reports and fax machines, Sanderson said Thursday.
“We have created a self-assisted kiosk and because there’s 266 data fields in a collision report, people cannot possibly do this by themselves, so our staff will assist them to get through the process.
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“We swipe a driver’s licence — it automatically downloads the information. We take 11 photographs of the car — it automatically downloads it to the file. We have some of our insurance partners that actually get the notice of the loss as (the driver) is in the (centre), reporting… and they’re sending back a text to the consumer saying: ‘We’ve got your claim, here’s your claim number, here’s our phone number, call us when you get home.’ It starts the whole claims process.”
However, drivers must still call 911 for major collisions with injuries requiring EMS, a fatality or criminal activity (impaired driving, stolen vehicle, assault).
Read more: 5 things to do if you’re in a car crash
Edmonton’s police chief believes the streamlined approach will free up officers to respond to higher priority calls, while clearing roadways faster.
“We’re moving resources elsewhere,” McFee said Thursday. “So rather than having to add additional resources, we’re able to move resources to keep up with the demand in some of the areas that we have. We’re getting better service delivery on all sides of the equation. (ASSI) better handling our accidents and also being able to redeploy as we build out towards our 10-squad model, to get more people in our communities. They’re kind of interlocking.”
Back in August, McFee said EPS is always looking for opportunities to improve service delivery and use resources more efficiently.
“It can take several hours from the time a collision occurs to the conclusion of an investigation, which ties up officers and leaves motorists waiting. The centres won’t just improve how we’re using our resources, they’ll also create a safer environment for Edmonton’s motorists by moving the reporting process off the roadway and into a dedicated space.”
McFee said each year, officers respond to and process approximately 34,000 motor vehicle collisions.
“This often boils down to a considerable amount of administrative work,” he said. “They can be some of the most time-consuming tasks our people perform and they happen daily.”
McFee also believes the new reporting centres will reduce the strain on EPS staff at division front counters. Processing one minor collision at a police counter takes an average of one hour per incident, the police chief said.
The EPS forecasts this change will remove about 60 per cent of the workload at division front counters.
McFee said the collision reporting centres will immediately free up about three officers, with another 10-12 officers potentially being freed up in the near future.
“This is time that officers can be using differently and it’s time and stress Edmonton’s motorists can also be saved. We’ve heard from citizens that they want EPS to focus on crime and emergency aspects of police work,” the chief said.
McFee said the centres come at no cost to the public or the EPS, as they’re paid for by the insurance providers who support ASSI.