On February 6, a winter storm hit Denver. Schools were delayed or cancelled, traffic slowed to a crawl, and police issued an Accident Alert. As horizontal snow graced your windshield wipers and your phone buzzed with the news, you felt a moment of dread.
Accident Alert? What does that mean?
Well friend, it means it’s a bad day for driving. If an area is under accident alert, it means the weather has created a so many car accidents that police will no longer respond to mild crashes. On February 6, the alert lasted most of the day, with 154 crashes reported by 5:00 PM. Normally, Colorado police will respond to any accident, no matter how mild. But if you have a mild accident during an accident alert, you are on your own.
OK, but that guy behind me is following too close! If he slides into my bumper the police would still come, right?
During an alert, police will only respond if the accident involves at least one of the following:
- A fatality or an injury requiring medical attention
- One or more disabled vehicles
- Drugs or alcohol
- A hit and run
- Damage to public property other than wildlife (for example, a guardrail).
Fine, so the police won’t respond to my fender-bender. I’ll just get the guy’s name and insurance information and be on my way.
Yes, but not quite. Colorado law requires any accident resulting in property damage to be reported. Usually the police file crash reports, but if you have a mild accident during an accident alert, you are responsible for reporting it yourself. You will need the other driver’s name, phone number, and insurance information. You can find the form at your local police station, or online here.
What a pain! You say.
Yup. And you have to do it– failing to report an accident is a class 2 misdemeanor. It’s never fun to have a fender-bender, but under an accident alert, it’s even worse! If the weather is bad and your phone is buzzing, save your non-urgent travel for a better time. Stay home!
Article by Molly Fuscher