Metro police to stop responding to fender benders - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Metro police to stop responding to fender benders

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A car sustained damage in a minor crash in Las Vegas on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. (FOX5) A car sustained damage in a minor crash in Las Vegas on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. (FOX5)
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

The next time you're in a fender bender in Las Vegas, you might not bother calling the Metropolitan Police Department.

The department on Monday announced it is changing its policy for non-injury accidents.

The move is raising concern among motorists, specifically about determinations concerning insurance and who's at fault for a particular crash.

The Nevada Insurance Council already called the move a "poorly executed plan" that could lead to safety problems and higher insurance costs.

Metro said it needs to prioritize given how many people lose their lives on Las Vegas roadways, 114 last year.

"We thinks it's more critical we provide our citizens more enforcement to reduce the number of traffic fatalities. Every time there's a traffic fatality, there's two families: the one who lost their loved one and the one who didn't mean to kill them," said Metro Capt. Mark Tavarez.

The policy change will go into effect on March 3.

"We think it's more critical to prevent fatalities than to investigate property damage crashes where there are no injuries. Property damage crashes take up to 55 percent of our time, about 250 man hours a week," Tavarez said.

The move comes on the heels of Metro shedding 30 traffic officers in the past 18 months. Sheriff Doug Gillespie's attempts to increase staff by way of the More Cops tax initiative have repeatedly been shot down by the Clark County Commission.

"The cost is going to be passed on to the consumer. I think the consumers and drivers of Nevada should really be livid. They pay their taxes and have earned the right for police to come and investigate when there's an accident," said Bob Campan with the Nevada Insurance Council.

Campan said that not only will revenue dwindle due to fewer traffic tickets being issued, but bad drivers could wind up with the same insurance premiums as good drivers.

"If one person is habitually getting into accidents, they won't notice these accidents are being reported as non-injury accidents. You and me, the average good driver, is going to just absorb the cost of insurance premiums based on the lack of citations issued," Campan said.

Metro police will still respond to hit-and-run accidents or in the event that someone will not exchange insurance information.

If the accident involves an injury, Tavarez said medical personnel will arrive first to confirm that injury.

Nevada law requires drivers to report accidents to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days.

FOX5 legal analyst Bob Massi said the new policy could make it more difficult to prove who was at fault in a minor crash.

Massi recommends you collect all the evidence you can. That includes pictures, witness information and statements and vehicle information such as make, model, color and license plate number.

"There's going to be a higher standard, higher amount of knowledge of what to do at the scene of the accident as it relates to not serious property damage, but maybe some injuries, but nothing to the point where you can call the police," Massi said.

The policy change is far from unprecedented. In Reno and Carson City, for example, police are not required to respond to non-injury crashes.

Police encourage drivers to thoroughly document property damage in order to help insurance adjusters figure out who is at fault.

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