If you’ve been in a collision, you may think it’s important to leave your vehicle exactly where it happened but that’s not what police say.

According to Anchorage Police Department Traffic Sgt. Rick Steiding, if your vehicle is able to be driven you should pull it off the road to a safe location.

Here’s another thing Steiding said many people don’t know: You may not have to call police after a crash, especially if there are no injuries.

“If it’s just your vehicles that are damaged, you can exchange the information and then go online and fill out the report online yourself,” he said. “You don’t have to wait for an officer.”

But some circumstances do require an officer to respond. You should call police if:

  • There are injuries.
  • At least one of the drivers doesn’t have a license or insurance.
  • Government or commercial vehicles are involved.
  • There is damage to city or state property (like a light pole or guardrail).
  • A driver is clearly impaired or a criminal element is involved.

Otherwise, Steiding recommends taking pictures of any damage and making sure you exchange license and insurance information with the other driver.

After that, both drivers should fill out an online crash report with the State of Alaska Department of Transportation at. This needs be be done within 10 days.

“The report that you fill out online is an actual police report,” Steiding said. “It gives you a police report number; it gets submitted to all the proper authorities.”

The same website has a Proof of Insurance form that must be returned to the state within 15 days.

“If they fail to return that to the DMV showing that they had insurance at the time of the collision, the DMV will actually suspend the license of that person. So it is very important that when you fill out that police report, that you fill out the DMV form as well," Steiding said.

Steiding said in the case of a minor collision it’s much faster to do the paperwork yourself instead of waiting hours for a busy officer who is likely to hand you a card with the website and ask you to fill out the report yourself.

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