By Zach Robinson, Ozarks News Journal

Springfield, MO–Weather in Springfield can make driving unpredictable. In December of last year alone, the city saw almost 700 accidents. During times of high call volume, police go into what’s known as emergency status. If you find yourself in a fender bender, you can fill out what’s known as a non-injury crash report, or, a walk-in.

Captain Ben King works with the Springfield Police Department.

“Any time in the past where we’ve had bad weather, or we’ve had high call volume, or an incident, maybe a homicide, or an abduction or something that takes up a large majority of our manpower, sometimes we would go into e-status, to where we would stop responding to non-injury accidents,” said King.

On August 1 of this year, the Springfield Police Department took that procedure full time.

“So for instance, you could be sitting on a parking lot, waiting for us, and it’s an hour after the accident, and by the time we get there, it takes us another hour to actually work that accident and get everything we need. So now you’ve wasted two hours where you and the other driver could have literally exchanged information after ten minutes and been on your way,” said King.

A handful of cities around the country are following suit. If you and the other driver are not injured, and no other element of the accident include unlawful activity like impaired driving or lack of insurance, you really can just do it yourself.

“Well we’ve had it in place before, and this isn’t anything new to the citizens of Springfield. We average probably about 11 to 12 hundred citizen crash reports a year, so around a hundred a month, so it’s nothing new that we’ve not done in the past,” said King.

The process is simple. You just exchange information, head online, and fill out the form.

“Once you have your report and you fill it out, you can either scan it, email it, you can mail it in to the police department, or you can drop it off,” said King

Now, the rule was put in place to make things easier for Springfield citizens. But with less than 2 officers per one thousand people, police time and resources are a hot commodity.

“On the basis of what we were able to look at just for one month, in November of last year, it was about 47% of those accidents would qualify for this non-response,” said King.

Officers say educating citizens about the process will help everyone involved. So the next time you find yourself in a bind behind the wheel, think twice before you call 911.