Florida motorists who have minor car crashes now have a quicker, less expensive way to report them to the state. The highway safety department is hoping its online car crash reporting form helps people comply with a state law requiring accidents to be reported within ten days of happening.
Until recently, a reporting form had to be printed out and mailed in or completed at a police station. Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles spokeswoman Nancy Rasmussen says the new, instant online form is for any incident that needs to be reported to an insurance company but doesn’t involve law enforcement.
“It goes to the very, very minor crashes, so if there’s no injuries involved, you don’t have to have your vehicle towed, there’s no crime committed," she says.
In any of those cases, the department says, it’s still important to call police from the scene of the crash.
State records show an average of a quarter million crashes are reported every year, but insurance industry trade group the Insurance Information Institute estimates half of car crashes go unreported—meaning Florida really could be seeing half a million crashes.
Insurance Information Institute spokeswoman Lynne McChristian says, although fear of rising premiums may keep people from reporting a crash, not doing so hurts drivers too.
“Sometimes if you’re trying to be the nice guy by telling people, ‘I won’t report it,’ they’ll give you a false phone number or a driver’s license that is invalid, and you’re never able to contact that person. So that is one of the advantages to reporting every crash," she says.
The new form is available on the Florida Highway Patrol website.