Drivesmart column: Producing information after a crash

The drivers of all vehicles in B.C. must carry three documents with them

By Tim Schewe

“Are we required to carry insurance papers within the car at all times? I’m helping a friend ask this as she was involved in a slight accident and the other party didn’t have the insurance papers with her.”

This short question actually has a two part answer. The first deals with which documents a driver is required to carry and the second concerns the information that they are required to produce when they are involved in a collision on a highway.

The drivers of all vehicles in B.C. must carry three documents with them and produce them on demand of the police. They are a driver’s licence, the vehicle licence and the vehicle insurance document. As you will see, this can be especially important if you are not the vehicle’s owner and are involved in a collision.

If another driver involved or a witness to the crash requests it, you must produce in writing the following particulars: your name and address, the name and address of the registered owner of the vehicle, the licence number of the vehicle, and particulars of the motor vehicle liability insurance card or financial responsibility card for that vehicle or such of that information as is requested.

If you do not have these documents with you and the information is demanded, you may have difficulty supplying it. As you would expect, failing to supply the requested information is an offence.

Reluctance or inability on the part of the other driver to supply this information should immediately raise a red flag. It could be an indication of an unlicensed or prohibited driver, improper vehicle licence, expired insurance or a stolen vehicle. In order to protect yourself, it’s time to start gathering information and recording it.

If the other driver will not co-operate, don’t press the issue to the point that they become a threat. Notify the police and use your cell phone to take pictures or write information down with a pen and paper. At the very least, record a description of the driver, their vehicle (including licence plate number) and any passengers that were inside.

You can never have too much information and this situation tells you that future difficulty is likely. Time invested in recording as much as possible now may pay you back many times over in the future. Consider carrying a checklist in your glovebox to help you cover all the bases.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

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