FAQs - Road traffic collision


Questions

  1. What is a road traffic collision?
  2. What should I do if I am involved in a road traffic collision?
  3. Do the police attend every collision?
  4. What is the role of the police at a road traffic collision?
  5. What happens if the police record my collision?
  6. Can I obtain details of other parties?
  7. Will I have to make a written statement?
  8. Will any driver be prosecuted?
  9. I have received a Notice of Intended Prosecution. Does this mean that I will definitely be prosecuted?
  10. Who decides to prosecute?
  11. How is the decision to prosecute reached?
  12. What service can the police provide?
  13. Do I have to notify my insurance company?
  14. What if the other driver isn't insured?
  15. When will I be able to obtain the other parties details in a 'Hit & Run' collision?
  16. Will my details be given to the other party?
  17. Can I get a copy of the Police Collision Report?
  18. How long do the police have to investigate a collision?
  19. Will I be informed of the results of the police enquiry?

Answers

Question 1: What is a road traffic collision?

A road traffic collision is where a motor vehicle is involved in a collision on a road or in a car park open to the public, where someone else's property or vehicle is damaged or any person or animal is injured (animal means: horse, cattle, ass, mule, pig, sheep, goat or dog).

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Question 2: What should I do if I am involved in a road traffic collision?

If you are the driver you MUST stop and give the vehicle's registration number, your name and address, and that of the owner, to anyone who needs it.

If you are not able to provide the above information, you MUST report the collision to a police officer or at a police station in person. This MUST be done as soon as reasonably practicable and in any case within 24 hours of the collision.

In addition, you should:

  • ensure the safety of yourself and others
  • if necessary, warn other traffic without putting yourself in danger
  • ensure the police, fire and ambulance services are called to attend the scene if they are required
  • or if anyone else present feels able to assist, treat any injured person or animal
  • obtain the details of any witnesses
  • note and record the positions of the vehicles

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Question 3: Do the police attend every collision?

No. The police do not routinely attend collisions which do not involve injury. They will only attend those non injury collisions where there is a clear, specific purpose for doing so. If police do not attend there will be no further details recorded about your collision, and no police investigation will take place. Contact your insurers to progress a claim.

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Question 4: What is the role of the police at a road traffic collision?

Devon & Cornwall Police will only record details and carry out initial investigations in the following circumstances:

  • where a person is killed or injured
  • where one or more drivers have failed to stop
  • where the police officer considers there is sufficient evidence to support a prosecution of one or more parties
  • where a driver has obviously lost control
  • if damage is caused to any road furniture or vehicle
  • where a vehicle defect has significantly contributed to the collision

The police have up to six months to investigate and bring criminal proceedings for offences relating to a road traffic collision.

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Question 5: What happens if the police record my collision

Collision reports are made by police if a driver does not stop, or does not exchange details, if someone is injured in the collision, or where criminal proceedings may be considered against one or more of the drivers involved.

A police officer will be allocated to investigate your collision, collect all available evidence and establish whether or not any offences have been committed.

In these circumstances you should be given an RTC (Road Traffic Collision) reference number.

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Question 6: Can I obtain details of other parties?

Yes - if details have been recorded these may be obtained free of charge over the telephone by persons involved in the collision from the Road Collision Unit (01752 751215). However, details of witnesses will not be disclosed. Once the case has been finalised, a full copy of the report can be obtained for a fee. This is usually arranged by insurance companies or solicitors.

You should allow a minimum of five working days before contacting the Road Collision Unit for a collision reference number.

If you require third party insurance details, please allow 14 days, although if the other party wasn't present at the scene of the collision, details may not be known for some time.

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Question 7: Will I have to make a written statement?

You maybe asked to make a written statement but you will usually, where cases are being considered for prosecution, be sent a pro forma statement to fill in yourself. Provision of a written statement or pro forma to the police does not automatically mean you will have to appear as a witness in criminal proceedings.

Further written notification will be given to you should that be necessary.

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Question 8: Will any driver be prosecuted?

The police do not apportion blame nor investigate collisions on behalf of insurance companies.

The police will generally investigate further those collisions involving fatalities or serious injury, those which involve an element of deliberately aggressive or impatient driving, the misuse of speed and any other relevant circumstances. Details of any incident where prosecution is recommended by the police will be forwarded to the Crown Prosecution Service who will consider if further action should be taken.

When there is sufficient evidence to prosecute, the Devon & Cornwall Police operates a Driver Improvement Scheme, whereby any driver who was driving carelessly, contributing to or causing a collision may be offered a one and a half days' driving course of refresher training, instead of prosecution. This initiative does not affect an insurance claim, but will clearly address a probable cause of the collision. Rather than punishing the offender it ultimately reduces the likelihood of a careless driver being involved in a similar collision.

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Question 9: I have received a Notice of Intended Prosecution. Does this mean that I will definitely be prosecuted?

No. If you have received a Notice of Intended prosecution it does not mean that a prosecution will automatically follow. The police have to send out this notice by law in certain circumstances within fourteen days of the incident, the matter will then however be fully investigated before a final decision is reached.

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Question 10: Who decides to prosecute?

Whilst the attending officer can make a recommendation on the outcome of a collision, the final decision rests with the Collisions and Ticket Section or the Serious Collisions Unit. A careful review of the evidence will be completed and any parties involved will be notified of the final decision i.e. no further action, driver alertness scheme, prosecution.

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Question 11: How is the decision to prosecute reached?

The police and the Crown Prosecution Service use exactly the same criteria contained in “The National Driving Offences Charging Standard”.

Firstly the Evidential Test is applied, the evidence has to be capable of proof and the standard of proof in the criminal courts is ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. Only if the evidential has been passed is the second test applied which is the Public Interest Test. For further information visit the CPS website

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Question 12: What service can the police provide?

If the collision is recorded we will always tell you of the result and if we propose to take any further action. Enquires take time to complete and the result may not be known for several months, but you will be advised of the outcome as soon as possible. If you need to enquire about any relevant matter relating to your collision, please telephone 01752 751215, leaving at least ten working days after the date of the collision. If the officer does not make a written record, it means that he or she had decided that police should take no further action. When a written record is made, the evidence available will be reviewed and the decision will be made regarding any future action to be taken, if any.

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Question 13: Do I have to notify my insurance company?

Most, if not all, insurance policies state that the insured person must notify them of any collision in which they are involved, irrespective of whether or not a claim is to be made or whose fault it was. They will usually send you a form to fill in and return.

It may jeopardise any future claims if you withhold information from them about a collision.

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Question 14: What if the other driver isn't insured?

If you suffer injury, loss or damage to your property as a result of a road accident, compensation will normally be payable under insurance arrangements. Where the offender is untraced or uninsured, compensation may be available from the Motor Insurers' Bureau, telephone 01908 830001, which can consider claims for:

  • Personal injury, loss or damage to your property caused by an identified driver who is uninsured. This can include injury, loss or damage caused by an identified driver of a stolen vehicle where the rightful owner is uninsured.
  • Personal injury (but not loss or damage to property) caused by an untraced driver.

If you should succeed in getting compensation in two or more ways from a criminal court and through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme or the Motor Insurers' Bureau, the award may be reduced to avoid a double payment. You can not receive compensation twice for the same thing from public funds. You need to be aware of this when claiming, whether you are claiming for yourself or for your insurance company. You cannot claim on insurance and also against an offender.

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Question 15: When will I be able to obtain the other parties details in a 'Hit & Run' collision?

The details are available as soon as the police have ascertained / proved who was driving the other vehicle. In most cases, the police have to send a Notice of Intended Prosecution to the registered keeper of the offending vehicle who is then given 28 days to respond to this notice. Please note that insurance companies are privy to the same intel as the police and therefore can start their own investigation which would not impact on the police case.

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Question 16: Will my details be given to the other party?

Yes. Your details can be obtained by the other party under Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. Your details can also be disclosed to insurance companies or solicitors if they are representing a party involved in the collision and pay an administration fee.

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Question 17: Can I get a copy of the Police Collision Report?

Yes. An abstract from the Police Collision Report will be made available after the investigation has been completed. An administration fee is payable. This may be covered by your insurance company or solicitor fees.

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Question 18: How long do the police have to investigate a collision?

The police have 6 months to investigate any collision. However, most investigations will be completed before this time.

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Question 19: Will I be informed of the result of the police enquiry?

If an investigating officer records details of the collision the drivers involved will be notified of the outcome of the investigation. This includes whether criminal proceedings will be taken against anyone.

Contact

Collisions officer
Devon & Cornwall Police, E Division Headquarters
Crownhill Police Station, Budshead Way
Crownhill, Plymouth
Devon
PL6 5HT

Tel: 01752 751215
Tel: Solicitors & insurance companies: 01752 751362

Non Emergency Directory (NED)

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