Friday, July 21st, 2017

Just Another 21 Vehicle Pile Up

A typical collision is hard on all parties involved. There is so much to think about; the risk of bodily injury and the inevitable damage to one of the most expensive possessions people own. Translate that to a 21 vehicle collision blocking one of only two routes across the bustling City of Lethbridge, AB and it is almost unimaginable; but that is exactly what happened at approximately 7:45 a.m. December 13.

What began as a simple driver over-correction resulted in 21 vehicles, two objects and a minimum of 26 people (two vehicles fled the scene) facing that reality on ice covered roads while traffic was still trying to sneak past and backing up over two kilometers behind the collision scene. Typically a collision of such magnitude would have required this major thoroughfare to be closed, impacting not just those involved but the entire City of Lethbridge.  It could easily have taken an entire day or more for members of the Lethbridge Police Service (LPS) Traffic Unit to clear the collision, and possibly weeks before the insurers involved had access to completed collision reports.

Now enter the Lethbridge Collision Reporting Centre, and rather than that typical outcome,  this Police/private enterprise partnership resulted in all vehicles involved in the collision, including four requiring tow trucks, being directed off the roadway to the CRC; clearing the roadway by 8:20 a.m. All citizens were greeted at 8:30 a.m. by CRC Manager Catherine Pooley and the process to complete their collision report was initiated. The four on-scene LPS members also attended the CRC and in a massive joint effort all citizens were assisted with statements, vehicle pictures were taken, documents photocopied, damage stickers written and all citizens were cleared as they completed their portion with everyone-including officers- having departed the CRC by 11:00 a.m. CRC staff then proceeded to enter and complete the full collision reports ensuring that by 5:00 p.m. all reports had been scanned, uploaded and were ready for insurers to review and complete work on their client’s behalf.

“Whoop-Up Drive and the existence of only two crossings between West Lethbridge and the remainder of the City is very sensitive issue within the City of Lethbridge; so much so that collision related closures of Whoop-Up Drive can be considered a “disaster” and require the activation of the City’s Emergency Operation Centre (EOC),” said Lethbridge Police Service Traffic Sergeant, Wade Davidson.

“There is no doubt that a morning rush-hour collision, involving 21 vehicles and an extended road closure, would have necessitated the EOC activation and been dealt with as a “disaster”. Having the Collision Reporting Centre available, working in close partnership with the Lethbridge Police Service Traffic Response Unit, not only sped up the process for the individuals directly involved in this collision, but it significantly mitigated a very negative impact on the community.”

Touted as one of the largest single collisions in Lethbridge, this was an excellent example of the value of a Collision Reporting Centre. Roadways were reopened, officers were redeployed, citizens were taken off the roadside in to a safe and secure location, and insurers had access to the reports in record time saving countless hours of adjuster’s time; truly creating the best outcome from a most unfortunate situation for all involved.

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