Starting Tuesday, Richmond County Sheriff’s deputies no longer will respond to most traffic accidents on private property.
“Most large agencies within the state of Georgia already handle private property accidents in this way in an effort to better utilize their limited law enforcement personnel,” Lt. Lewis Blanchard said in a news release.
The new policy forces involved parties to handle the incident themselves by exchanging information, documenting and reporting it to their insurance companies with Georgia’s SR-13 form.
Private property crashes include those that occur in residential areas, parking lots and other areas that are not considered state- or county-owned, such as roads including Gordon Highway.
In an accident, drivers are asked to turn on their hazard lights and move vehicles out of traffic to the closest location if vehicles are operational and no one is injured.
Key information to exchange includes the name, address and contact information, driver’s license number, license plate number and auto insurance information of all parties involved.
An SR-13 form, which the affected parties will forward to their insurance companies, can be provided by deputies and is available on the sheriff’s office Web site, www.RCSOGA.org.
Police say it is useful to take photos at the scene and get contact information for any key witnesses.
If an unattended vehicle is struck, the driver must make an effort to find the vehicle owner. If that person cannot be found, the driver is required to leave a note with his name, contact information and a brief description of the accident.
There are circumstances in which law enforcement will respond to an incident. Residents are asked to notify police if anyone is killed or injured and if damage to property exceeds $500.
Residents are also asked to notify police if any parties appear under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Lt. Calvin Chew said he does not anticipate any backlash from the public on the changes. Police said that the new procedure is fairly simple and that they will assist the public with any questions they have in the event of an accident.
“If people know it’s coming and it’s easy to do, then I don’t foresee any problems,” Chew said.
Deputies have been supplied with SR-13 forms. If they are dispatched to a private property accident, the deputy will issue the forms and tell the parties how information should be exchanged.