By Valerie Baldowski
A pilot program, allowing motorists to obtain accident reports online, has proven to be productive, said one county official.
Clark Rainer, Henry County's director of technology services, said the online method of filing accident reports makes the process more efficient.
"[Police] do their report, except instead of writing it down on a piece of paper, now, they're going to do it on computer," Rainer explained.
"The way that the system's set up, it's a 'wizard;' it just walks the officers through. It does not allow for hardly any mistakes, because they have to use drop-down menus and things like that, [to] really kind of hone them into answering questions precisely. They can't leave fields blank ... handwriting becomes a non-issue."
Motorists are still able to obtain their accident reports in person at the police department, said Henry County Police Maj. Danny Butler. The reports may be acquired free, if the requester is a Henry County resident. But they cost $5 for non-residents, Butler said.
"There's approximately 3,000 accidents a month, [and] most people want a copy of their accident report," added Butler. The money collected by the police department for the online reports is a "convenience fee," said Butler.
Information from each online accident report will be electronically stored with the Georgia Department of Transportation. Motorists can go online and print a copy of their accident report for a fee of $11.
Five dollars, of the $11 fee per report, will go to Open Portal Solutions, the company contracted for the service, and the remaining balance will go to the police department, according to Rainer.
The Henry County Board of Commissioners approved a revenue-sharing agreement with the Greenwood, Ind.-based technology company (Open Portal Solutions) during the commission's regular meeting on June 1.
Rainer said during the pilot program phase, only a few officers used the online method of filing accident reports. Now, he said, all county police officers will learn the system.
Traffic accidents are handled by the police department, so if a Henry County Sheriff's Department officer responds to an accident, a county police officer will fill out the accident report, said Rainer.
Motorists are able to get an online copy of their report by logging on to www.buycrash.com, and entering the required information. Payments for the reports are then made electronically.