What it means when Omaha is on an OPD 'accident alert'

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- Monday afternoon, the Omaha Police Department announced officers wouldn’t respond to property damage accidents due to inclement weather.

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The police department said on-duty lieutenants and dispatch discuss whether there are enough officers to handle high priority calls, like shootings or cutting scenes, along with the lower priority calls like property damage accidents. When there aren’t enough, the department determines it’s best to cancel property damage accident response.

Accident alert is at the discretion of lieutenants, and weather is not always a factor.

During accident alert, police urge drivers to find a safe place to pull over and exchange information. Officers will only respond to injury accidents during this time.

Nebraska State Patrol said troopers will also mirror the agency in which they’re working, but troopers will typically help stranded motorists since towing vehicles off the roadway is dangerous during inclement weather.

AAA and local insurance agencies suggest drivers use their phones to take pictures of necessary information like driver’s license, insurance card, damages, license plates and others. However, local agent Mickey Manley also recommends taking it one step further and actually calling insurance companies.

“A lot of the places will have a 1-800-number that you can call to make sure the insurance is actually valid,” Manley said. “A lot of people will pay a first month’s insurance to get that ID card and then let it lapse. They’ll have proof of insurance, but it’s not actually valid.”

AAA told 6 News drivers should also check insurance cards to make sure the address is correct and the description of the vehicle on the card matches the vehicle involved in the accident.

Manley works for Farmers Insurance and said claims for accidents typically go up when weather is less than favorable. He also suggested drivers claim rear-end collisions through the person at fault's insurance company.

“If you’re hit from behind, try not to turn it into your own insurance company because, a lot of people don’t know, but you will be subject to your deductible unless they can get the fault determines early on. Your company will pay you for the claim, but they’ll take your deductible off the claim, then they’ll go through the courts and subjugate that back from the company who’s at fault, and you will receive that, but that could be months down the road," Manley said.

Since officers don't respond to property damage accidents, police reports aren't filed. However, the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicle's driver manual states all accidents involving injuries, death or damages over $1,000 must be filed with the state. A copy of the form is available here.

Omaha police reinstated their accident response around 9 p.m. Monday. The police department said lieutenants call dispatch every hour for an update on call volume before reinstating accident response.