Collision Reporting Centre Opens in Sarnia
by Tyler Kula, The Observer
A classroom at Sarnia’s police station has gotten a little smaller, and Sarnia drivers now have a dedicated collision reporting centre.
he Monday-to-Friday Sarnia Accident Support Services centre officially opened its door for the first time Tuesday at the Christina Street station.
The site – the 35th in Ontario from Accident Support Services International Ltd. – handles the paperwork for fender benders so people don’t have to wait around at collision sites for officers, sometimes for nearly an hour, said Sarnia police Chief Norm Hansen.
“I think it’s a step forward for us as far as efficiency in Sarnia,” he said.
It makes more sense to have the reporting centre than to have officers tied up at minor collisions, he said. Motorists still call police following a collision and then have up to three days to report to the centre, which is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“Anything more serious – injury, criminal – absolutely we’ll be there,” Hansen said. “But for the minor ones … it’s just easier for the public and our officers if they just come in here and report at their leisure.”
Having the centre also means people can clear the road faster, limiting the risk of secondary collisions, said Lynn Hemingway, vice-president of operations with Accident Support Services.
The business, which gets paid via licensed insurers, helps guide people through the process, she said, asking questions, and taking photos and submitting the required info to those insurance companies.
Calls that could warrant charges are still given to police, Hansen said.
A small office was carved out of an existing classroom at the station, he said. It’s immediately to the left after stepping through the main entrance.
“We really wanted it to be very accessible for the public,” Hansen said about the minimal cost to build the office.
There were no collisions reported yet to the centre as of about noon Tuesday.
Hemingway said it’s taken up to a day from opening at other centres in the past. Rick Yates, vice-president of insurance programs with Accident Support Services, said the office is expecting to deal with 1,000 to 1,100 incidents per year in Sarnia.
There’s also spaces being left in the visitors parking area for people coming in to report and space set aside on Water Street for tow trucks, Hansen said.
There’s no cost to the police, Yates said, noting Accident supplies its own furniture and computers.