Collision Reports and Authorized Requester Information Services (ARIS)
March 17, 2021
Collision reports are an essential tool for municipal engineers. They assist municipalities in recovering costs relating to damages to municipal infrastructure and are used as part of statistical analysis when conducting safety reviews.
Due to privacy concerns most regional OPP detachments have stopped providing collision reports and data to municipalities that rely on policing exclusively by OPP. Although areas serviced by municipal police forces have largely not been affected by this protocol, many medium to small municipalities are not receiving the reports, and where it is, information is greatly redacted.
In order to gain access to this confidential information the Ministry of Transportation has granted access to municipalities to the Authorized Requester Information Services (ARIS) portal. Municipalities can apply for access to the system and after a thorough security review and sign off on several agreements, can download collision reports for use in recovering costs for damage claims and also request data for statistical collision analysis.
Both the cost recovery module and the collision statistic module under ARIS have issues. Municipalities using the ARIS database to search for collision reports for cost recovery incur a charge to the user for each search. This process can be hit and miss, and unsuccessful searches of the collision database still cost the municipality. It can take several months after a collision for these reports to become available in the database, and in the case of collisions under investigation can take even longer. Be sure that your staff are making detailed notes when attending a scene to make repairs to road infrastructure as an error in the collision report number or date of incident can make it nearly impossible to find the associated report.
More concerning is access to statistical data for collision analysis. The process for collecting data from the ARIS portal is confusing at best. It requires the upload of an ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Exchange) or EBCDIC (Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code) files that are formatted in a specific manner in order for the system to output the data in that same format. Substantial manipulation of these files is required both to ensure the correct information is being requested and to format the output into a file that can be used to guide road safety analysis. This is also a process that must be submitted overnight for processing so if there is any error in the file you would need to wait overnight to try again.
The Municipal Engineers Association is working with the Ministry of Transportation in order to streamline and make this whole process more user friendly. Collision statistics are a critical part of making sound road safety decisions and wise spending of tax dollars on safety improvements.
We would like to hear from any of our members who are frustrated and/or having success using the ARIS portal. This information is critical for MEA to move forward with our advocacy efforts and working with our provincial partners to improve on this system and provide better access to this information to all municipalities regardless of size and in house technical expertise.