Crash Reporting FAQs

Crash Reporting Changes - Frequently Asked Questions

Information for motorists and other people involved in crashes in NSW - effective from 15 October 2014.

 

When are police required to attend and investigate crashes?

Will police attend crashes that do not meet the 'Major Traffic Crash' criteria?

What crashes will police investigate? 

Will police take action against 'at fault' drivers involved in 'Tow Away Only' crashes?

What if the crash involves serious reckless, dangerous or menacing driving?

What about other criminal offences/behaviour that might be present at a crash site?

Should police be called if there is significant damage to property?

What if drivers provide false details at the scene?

What if a driver crashes into an unattended parked car, a fence or other structure?

Are there any changes being made to legislation in relation to the crash reporting changes?

What if an involved driver is unlicensed?

What if an involved vehicle is unregistered?

What if there is a conflict between the involved parties at the crash site? (e.g. drivers refusing to exchange particulars or arguing over who is at fault)

How are motorists going to know if other drivers are affected by alcohol or drugs if police do not attend?

How will it be determined who is 'at fault' in 'Tow Away Only' crashes if police do not investigate?

How will motorists make a claim for a 'Minor Traffic Collision' where no vehicles are towed if there is no police report number?

What can drivers do to ensure the correct party is found 'at fault' in crashes that are not investigated by police? 

Where can drivers involved in crashes get further advice about insurance claims? 

What if I am injured in a crash but don't realise it until after leaving the crash site?

What if I need a police report number in relation to a crash injury claim?

How can drivers or insurance companies obtain a copy of the police crash report?

What if a driver cannot arrange a tow for their vehicle?

What should motorists do if they think a tow truck driver is behaving inappropriately at a crash site?

Why is the NSW Police Force still recording 'Tow Away Only' crashes if they are not investigating them?

 

When are police required to attend and investigate crashes? 

Police will attend and investigate traffic crashes meeting the ‘Major Traffic Crash’ criteria.  That is where:

  • someone is killed or injured, or
  • a party fails to stop and exchange particulars, or
  • a driver is allegedly under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a drug.


Will police attend crashes that do not meet the ‘Major Traffic Crash’ criteria?

Police will attend any crash where the answer is ‘yes’ to one or more of the following:

  1. Is anyone trapped, killed or injured, or
  2. Has anyone involved failed to exchange details, or
  3. Do any drivers appear affected by alcohol or drugs, or

AND

  1. Are police needed to direct traffic or deal with hazards, or
  2. Does a bus or truck need to be towed, or
  3. Are there hazards present (eg. leaking fluids, damage to power poles/structures, etc), or
  4. Are there any other issues requiring police attendance (e.g. aggressive/criminal behaviour etc).


What crashes will police investigate?

Police will investigate all traffic crashes meeting the ‘Major Traffic Crash’ criteria. That is where:

  • someone is killed or injured, or
  • a party fails to stop and exchange particulars, or
  • a driver is allegedly under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a drug.

Will police take action against ‘at fault’ drivers involved in ‘Tow Away Only’ crashes?

Generally police will no longer investigate ‘Tow Away Only’ crashes, however they will retain discretion to investigate traffic offences detected in any type of crash and take action against offending drivers where they deem it appropriate.

What if the crash involves serious reckless, dangerous or menacing driving?

If a member of the public witnesses driving offences they may report these to police at any time regardless of whether they relate to a crash. Police will determine based on the individual circumstances what action will be taken.

If anyone is involved in a crash of an unusual nature they can contact police for advice and, where required, police will attend.

Although police generally will not investigate a minor or ‘Tow Away Only’ crash, they retain the discretion to investigate and take action for any traffic offences detected when they deem it appropriate.


What about other criminal offences/behaviour that might be present at a crash site?

As with any situation, if anyone at a crash site suspects criminal behaviour, they should call the police to investigate.

Should police be called if there is significant damage to property?

If anyone is involved in a crash of an unusual nature or there is significant damage to property which is currently or likely to cause a hazard or obstruction, call police and they will determine what response is required based on the circumstances.

What if drivers provide false details at the scene?

If a driver suspects that false details have been provided or there is some other suspicious behaviour involved they should call police and, where required, they will attend the crash site.

If drivers have left the crash site and false details were provided, report the matter to police. Police will make further inquiries and investigate where appropriate.

What if a driver crashes into an unattended parked car, a fence or other structure?

If particulars are unable to be exchanged at a crash site for any reason, call police and they will assist.

Are there any changes being made to legislation in relation to the crash reporting changes?

There are no changes being made to legislation in relation to the crash reporting changes. Drivers’ responsibilities and obligations remain exactly the same under the Road Rules 2008 and associated Regulations.

What if an involved driver is unlicensed?

If a motorist at a crash site has reason to suspect another involved driver is unlicensed or there are other suspicious circumstances they should contact police. Police will determine if attendance is appropriate and will investigate the suspected licence offence.

If drivers have already left the scene, report the matter to police and they will investigate.

What if an involved vehicle is unregistered?

If a motorist at a crash site has reason to suspect an involved vehicle is unregistered or there are other suspicious circumstances they should contact police. Police will determine if attendance is required and will investigate the suspected registration offence.

If drivers have already left the scene, report the matter to police and they will investigate.

What if there is a conflict between the involved parties at the crash site? (e.g. drivers refusing to exchange particulars or arguing over who is at fault)

If a driver is refusing to exchange details, call police and they will attend.

If any party at a crash site is behaving aggressively, call police and they will attend to ensure there is no breach of the peace.

Once details have been exchanged and arrangements made to have the cars removed, involved parties should leave the scene as soon as it is safe to do so to reduce their exposure to hazards and distractions to traffic.

How are motorists going to know if other drivers are affected by alcohol or drugs if police do not attend?

If anyone has any reason to suspect that a driver at a crash site is affected by alcohol or drugs (e.g. appearance, behaviour, smell etc) they should immediately call police on Triple Zero (000) and they will attend.

If the suspected alcohol/drug affected driver has already left the scene, call police and they will investigate the matter.


How will it be determined who is ‘at fault’ in ‘Tow Away Only’ crashes if police do not investigate?

Determining ‘at fault’ status in relation to damage liability for traffic crashes is and always has been the responsibility of insurance companies and/or the driver’s legal representatives. These crash reporting changes will have no impact on this responsibility.

Insurance Companies have been carrying out the function of determining liability for damage for many years. Insurers do not rely solely on police reports, they perform their own investigations.

Involved drivers are still required to report ‘Tow Away Only’ crashes to police after leaving the crash site via the Police Assistance Line on 131 444. The Police Assistance Line will provide callers with a report number at the end of the call for insurance purposes.

How will motorists make a claim for a ‘Minor Traffic Collision’ where no vehicles are towed if there is no police report number?

The NSW Police Force have undertaken extensive consultation with the Insurance Council of Australia prior to implementing the changes. Insurance companies are aware that there will not be a police report for every incident. They do not require a police event number for claims relating to ‘Minor’ crashes where no vehicles were towed. They have not required police report numbers for these types of crashes for many years.


What can drivers do to ensure the correct party is found ‘at fault’ in crashes that are not investigated by police?

Drivers should follow the instructions on the ‘What to do after a car crash’ flyer for the correct action after being involved in a crash. The flyer also provides guidance on what information you should record. This flyer is available on the NSW Police Force website, at local police stations, RMS & Service NSW Offices and it will also be mailed to owners of NSW registered vehicles with their registration renewals from 1 January 2015.

If there are witnesses to the crash who are willing to provide involved parties with their details these should be recorded by the drivers in case they are later required.

Drivers/owners should seek further advice in relation to liability in a car crash from their insurance company.

In the interests of safety, drivers are urged to ensure they leave crash site as soon as possible after having exchanged details with the involved parties and arranged for their cars to be removed. All parties should also ensure that at all times they are in a safe place away from hazards such as traffic.  

Where can drivers involved in crashes get further advice about insurance claims?

Your insurer should be your first point of contact for advice about insurance claims.  However, if you encounter difficulties or require further advice, contact the Financial Ombudsman Service on 1300 780 808.

What if I am injured in a crash but don’t realise it until after leaving the crash site?

If after leaving a crash site you realise that you have been injured, seek medical treatment and contact the Police Assistance Line on 131444 to report the injury. Depending on the crash circumstances the Police Assistance Line will either take the report from you over the phone or discuss options to report the crash to your local police.

What if I need a police report number in relation to a crash injury claim?

All crashes reported to the NSW Police Force involving injuries are assigned a report ‘Event’ number. When these reports are made the person reporting will be provided with the relevant ‘Event’ number.

How can drivers or insurance companies obtain a copy of the police crash report?

To obtain a copy of a police crash incident report, application should be made by submitting a ‘P862 Application for Incident Report’ form to the NSW Police Force via:
Insurance Services Unit
Locked Bag 5102
Parramatta NSW 2124.

For further information contact the Insurance Services Unit on (02) 8835 8377 or download the ‘P862 Application for Incident Report’ form here.


What if a driver cannot arrange a tow for their vehicle?

Drivers/owners are responsible for arranging their own tow for their vehicle (if required), unless injury prevents them from doing so. They should use all options available to them to organise the tow. These include:

  • Calling a towing company of their choice (refer to directory assistance or the internet if available)
  • Contacting their insurer to assist with the arrangements. 
  • Contacting a relative or friend to make the arrangements.
  • Arranging the tow through a tow operator at the scene (if present).

If a motorist exhausts all other options to have their vehicle towed, they can call the Police Assistance Line on 131444, who will provide further guidance and where required arrange for local police to attend the crash site.

Police will only arrange a tow for vehicles involved in these types of crashes if the driver/owner fails to arrange their own tow and police determine the vehicle to be causing or likely to cause a hazard or obstruction to the free flow of traffic. This tow will be as per police contract tow arrangements and at the owner’s expense.

What should motorists do if they think a tow truck driver is behaving inappropriately at a crash site?

Motorists are entitled to have their vehicle towed by a towing company of their choice. If in doubt they should consult with their insurer for advice.

If a motorist has any concerns about the behaviour of a tow truck driver they can call police who will attend.

There are regulations, rules and significant penalties relating to the behaviour of tow truck operators and where police are informed of breaches they will take appropriate action.

The primary responsibility for monitoring and regulating the Tow Truck industry rests with the Road and Maritime Services - Transport for NSW.

Why is the NSW Police Force still recording ‘Tow away only’ crashes if they are not investigating them?

It is a legislative requirement in NSW that drivers involved in a crash report it to police if a vehicle involved in the crash is towed or carried away by another vehicle. This requirement also applies to crashes involving deaths or injuries, and where involved parties have failed to exchange particulars.

The data collected by the NSW Police Force in relation to fatal and injury crashes, other major traffic crashes and tow away crashes is analysed by police and also provided to other road safety departments and agencies for their analysis. This analysed data is used to identify black spots and crash trends to guide road safety strategies, initiatives and road infrastructure planning.