Beginning April 12, 2021, drivers who have had a minor car accident should not expect police officers to arrive at the scene anymore as a new ruling from the Metro Nashville Department of Emergency Communications discontinued the dispatching of officers to ‘fender benders’.
Though discontinued may not be the right vernacular. Metro Nashville Police Department spokesman Don Aaron explained to reporters on Friday that focus is being shifted to priority calls. “At peak times calls are prioritized.” Aaron added, “A fender bender is a lower priority call.”
The policy change has come at the request of the police department says Stephen Martini, Metro Nashville Department of Emergency Communications director.
There are some exceptions:
- A party insists on a police response;
- A vehicle is disabled in the roadway;
- The property damage only crash involves a hit-and-run;
- There is a heated argument or fight between the parties.
And of course, officers will always be dispatched to car accidents involving injury or death.
If a car accident in Nashville does not involve injury or death, does not meet any of the criteria for an exception listed above, then drivers may have to wait longer for police to arrive at the scene.
But aren’t police reports a vital document needed in almost all car accidents? Yes, this is especially the case for accidents involving injury or death. Some motorists prefer to hire a lawyer after a minor car accident, and in those cases, a police report would almost always be beneficial at the least.
In cases of very minor car accidents, ‘fender benders’, and collisions with minor property damage, the police are hoping that motorists will begin handling these situations themselves.
“It is preferred that drivers involved in property damage only fender-bender-type accidents amicably exchange information, take cell phone photos, and share the information with their respective insurance companies as applicable,” Aaron said.
“Those measures save parties from having to wait for a police officer response, which can be lengthy, particularly during peak call times,” Aaron said. “Crimes in progress and crashes with injuries will always be a higher priority than property damage crashes.”
What’s the goal here?
Police department officials hope that shifting focus away from minor car accidents in Nashville, will allow for more police to respond to higher priority calls during peak times.
Since the change on April 12, 2021, there has been a 41% reduction in responses to minor car accidents in Nashville.
In the two weeks before April 12, MNPD officers responded to 1,385 property damage crashes. In the two weeks since April 12, officers responded to 820 property damage crashes.
Though some accidents may not lead to much vehicle damage, they can still injure the parties involved. This is why some drivers or passengers have a personal injury case even without vehicle damage. In some cases it may be best to call the police and take the time to wait for an officer to reach the scene.