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  • Question about traffic crash forms?

    My squad was posed a question about traffic crashes the other day. Basically i want to know if you can clear from a single vehicle traffic accident that did not involve any form of dui or injuries. the accident was caused by a distraction by the assumed driver (no witnesses) and he failed to navigate a turn which caused significant damage (well above$500) to his own vehicle and we are having the vehicle removed by the next rotation wrecker at his request. the only property damage is some grass, a pine tree, and a palmetto bush that he struck. these plants are on county owned property but are not landscaped plants but rather wild growth.

    I think that while yes i should do a FL DHSMV short form I could also do a driver's report of crash. what do you guys think? my Lt is somewhat receptive while my sgt thinks its impossible. this is all hypothetical and was just a question they posed.

    I am basing my answer off the fact that if the owner is removing the vehicle themselves and no one was impaired or injured then past experience has shown that i did not have to complete the short form which was approved/preferred conduct by both supervisors at similar crash.
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  • #2
    I only investigate enough to find out what I can cite him for. I.e reckless, careless etc. We had this exact situation a few months back, single vehicle roll over out in county. However, state took over so I don't know exactly what happened. No injury/acohol.

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    • #3
      316.065 Crashes; reports; penalties.--

      (1) The driver of a vehicle involved in a crash resulting in injury to or death of any persons or damage to any vehicle or other property in an apparent amount of at least $500 shall immediately by the quickest means of communication give notice of the crash to the local police department, if such crash occurs within a municipality; otherwise, to the office of the county sheriff or the nearest office or station of the Florida Highway Patrol. A violation of this subsection is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a nonmoving violation as provided in chapter 318.

      It's well over $500, you have to complete the traffic crash report and forward it to the state (through records or however ya'll do it). If your supervisors told you to do the driver's report, you should hopefully be in the clear. At my agency, I would at least get written up if they found out I went against statute. Our policy is, even if damage is under $500, we will do the short form if the crash occurred on the roadway.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by apexkw View Post
        My squad was posed a question about traffic crashes the other day. Basically i want to know if you can clear from a single vehicle traffic accident that did not involve any form of dui or injuries. the accident was caused by a distraction by the assumed driver (no witnesses) and he failed to navigate a turn which caused significant damage (well above$500) to his own vehicle and we are having the vehicle removed by the next rotation wrecker at his request. the only property damage is some grass, a pine tree, and a palmetto bush that he struck. these plants are on county owned property but are not landscaped plants but rather wild growth.

        I think that while yes i should do a FL DHSMV short form I could also do a driver's report of crash. what do you guys think? my Lt is somewhat receptive while my sgt thinks its impossible. this is all hypothetical and was just a question they posed.

        I am basing my answer off the fact that if the owner is removing the vehicle themselves and no one was impaired or injured then past experience has shown that i did not have to complete the short form which was approved/preferred conduct by both supervisors at similar crash.
        Single vehicle, roadway accident, with property damage to vehicle, other property, even if non-injury, will probably require some sort of report. If DHSMV has a short form, and damage is in the limit(s) allowed for that form, do it.Check Florida's reporting requirements, go from there.

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        • #5
          StudChris just posted part of the law. 316.065 only requires the drivers to notify law enforcement, it doesn't cover written crash reports. That's covered in 316.066. Yes, a driver must report the crash to law enforcement however law enforcement does not have to write a report. My department has a policy that we only write crash reports if the crash meets long form criteria (death, injury, DUI, or hit and run). The law does not require law enforcement to complete a crash report if the crash only involves property damage, and that is spelled out in 316.066(3). It only says that an officer MAY complete a crash report if the vehicles are rendered inoperative, at the officer's discretion. There is absolutely no state law that says we have to write reports on property damage crashes.

          What is required if damage is more than $500 is that the driver complete a self-report of the crash and submit it to the state. This is explained in 316.066(1). All you (or they) have to do is complete the shaded blocks on the short form, check the "Driver's Report of Traffic Crash" box, and tell them to sign the back and mail it in. At that point you're done and no further action is required by law enforcement.

          That said, your department policy may require you to write reports on all crashes as a public service, however you are not statutorily mandated to write ANY crash report if the crash doesn't meet long form criteria.
          Last edited by Delta_V; 09-22-2009, 10:55 AM.

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          • #6
            Well what do ya know, I was completely wrong.

            Our policy is that if it occurred on the roadway (no matter damage amount, if it's a scratch we do it) we will do the traffic crash report and if a party is found at fault they will be cited. The only time we can do the driver's report is if it's a parking lot crash under $500 damage.

            Thank you Delta, for showing me the correct answer, and showing me that my department makes sense even less. WOOHOO!!!

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            • #7
              That's the way we used to do it too, then the chief saw how many man hours were spent investigating and reporting traffic crashes. I'm glad that he realized our time can be better spent doing other things.

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              • #8
                Thanks Delta_V for the info so far, I was in the right area but didn't read far enough to get there. Anyways our general orders (SOP's) state that all Port Authority (my agency) property that is damaged must have a long form report completed. I am trying to explain to them that grass, and non-landscaped wild trees do not represent PA property, and that in this case a driver's report of crash is all that would be needed.

                Does anyone know where, i can find where grass and trees are defined in the statute book? I am also going through my crash manual but that just shows me how to fill in the blank spaces for the accident report forms.
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                • #9
                  We just give them the short form to fill out and go 10-8. Now, the polite thing to do is fill it out for them.

                  I used to work for a Sgt who insisted that with every crash, there's someone at fault, therefore they get cited. Basically, we had no discretion with those.

                  But one thing I dont understand is why or how can I be the judge of what the cost of damage is? How am I supposed to know?

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                  • #10
                    If that's what your SOPs say then that's what you have to do. Just because the law doesn't require that you complete a long form doesn't mean that your agency cannot require you to do so. Obviously they're concerned about potential civil liability and that's why they want all crashes documented when their property is damaged.

                    Up until a couple years ago, a long form was required if a government vehicle was involved in the crash. That has also since been changed, however if one of our vehicles is involved in a crash then we document (and reconstruct) the crash anyway for liability purposes.

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                    • #11
                      oh absolutely thats how its done on an actual accident.

                      Part of this excerise is because we are going through our sop's to rewrite them since we are getting our accreditation renewed.

                      So since they are asking for ways to reduce our budget i suggested that instead of using manpower and the paper, that we do the driver's report of crash instead of the long/short forms tying up an officer/vehicle for a crash. we have several turns on our property that were poorly designed and cause a single vehicle crash with no injuries about once a week. I have been sent to one location three times in one shift because of poor visibility and road conditions. Two out of three said they only called us because a passing vehicle told them they needed a police report.

                      My Lt's only real hangup is the question about who owns the tree and grass. He says that since its on our agencies land we do own them and it should constitute completing a long form per our sop's which states any property damage must have a long form crash report completed and submitted to the agency. While I am saying that the sop's are referring to vehicle's, buildings, and fixtures.

                      Unit 453 I was just assigned a new sgt and he is the same way, everyone gets a ticket and no one can be lenient. For this exercise i told him that i would not cite the driver a UTC and he flipped his lid. Then he asked why to which i said, i didnt want to in this situation nor did i have to since its not policy and i have officer discretion. He basically took that as being lazy, which i am not at all, and said I didnt have the discretion to do that. I have the most citizen contacts, UTC's, and traffic stops for the year on my squad, and second most arrest.

                      So I am still looking for where trees and grass are defined pertaining to a traffic crash. If anyone knows that would be extremely helpful.
                      110%

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                      • #12
                        I work a traffic crash by calling for medics if needed and then calling for FHP or the city PD. If the involved parties are not fighting with each other and there is no traffic obstruction I'm 10-8 and they can wait for the trooper.

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                        • #13
                          Accident report = if the accident occurred on the roadway and there is any damage over $1000 or if someone requests a report. Also if a city vehicle is involved, regardless where the accident happened.

                          Blue form (Texas's Driver's Self-Reporting form) = damage less than $1000 or if both parties agree that they just want to exchange information and don't really care about getting a formal report

                          My dept also has another self-reporting form for parking lot/private property accidents to assist the involved parties with their insurance claims.

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