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Ontario drivers could see changes to vehicle collision reporting. Here's what you need to know

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The Ontario government is considering changing the threshold for Property Damage Only (PBO) collision reporting—more than doubling the damage value required before a crash must be reported to police.

Minister of Transportation Prabmeet Sarkaria told CTV News Toronto the dollar threshold has remained stagnant at $2,000 since 2015.

“We’ve heard some challenges that people have with respect to getting to reporting centres,” he said.

“As technology advances, as cars advance, we’ve also seen the price of vehicles increase, and many other factors that feed into that threshold of $2,000.”

As it stands, if a driver gets into a collision involving damage to public or private property, but no bodily injury, and the damage is under the threshold, they do not need to contact or register the vehicle with authorities.

The province is now considering changing that threshold to $5,000, citing factors such as inflation and the advancement of car technology.

The minister said he anticipates law enforcement, insurance providers and drivers will participate in the two-week consultation, which ends on March 5.

A priority, Sarkaria noted, will be to ensure the changes don’t significantly impact insurance rates. In 2022, Ontario's auditor general found that auto insurance premiums had risen about 14 per cent since 2017.

Elliott Silverstein, director of government relations for CAA Insurance, says the change won’t necessarily have a big impact on rates.

“We still try to encourage people to drive safely, to make sure they engage their insurance companies when they're in a collision,” he said. “But I think that in terms of the system and the process itself, it provides some relief to the collision reporting centers.”

‘That could be a scratch’

According to Silverstein, very few collisions result in less than $2,000 worth of damages nowadays, especially considering how interconnected technology is within vehicles. He called the proposal “positive,” adding that it helps create a balance and simplicity to collision reporting.

“This concept of bringing it up to $5,000 would really allow minor, minor fender benders to be addressed without having to go through all the processes,” he said.

“It helps provide some of that relief, that if you are unfortunate situation …your line ups and wait times could be less because police and reporting centers are more directed to the ones that are more significant.”

Constable Sean Shapiro from Toronto Police Traffic Services agreed, saying the low threshold means the majority of collisions are reported to police and collision centres.

“The thing is, with the cost of a vehicle's repair, that could be a scratch. So almost every collision requires police to be notified,” he told CTV News Toronto, noting that the damage includes all vehicles involved in the collision.

“If it's something that's so minor as a scratch, it's a bit of a waste of resources.”

Drivers can always report a collision if the property damage is less than the threshold for mandatory reporting, the province stressed. The choice remains with the driver.

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