Northern Michigan car crash police reports becoming electronic

The next time you get get into a car crash, you may not need to wait long for the police report, or even go to the sheriff's office to pick it up.

Michigan law enforcement is switching over to ''eCrash'' - an online crash report system. The system will be provided to law agencies at no cost thanks to LexisNexis. Insurance companies pay LexisNexis for copies of the reports.

Although some offices and the Michigan State Police have used "eCrash" for months, many across northern Michigan are just starting to implement the program.

Deputies will enter all of the information on a computer in their vehicle - eliminating legibility issues and reducing time spent doing reports. Many times officers will be writing crash reports in the field under blizzard conditions or rain, or are writing in the car - making reports difficult to read sometimes.

Typing reports in the car will also help officers stay safer. When they're in their vehicle, there is a hazard concern as they have to take their eyes off of the road and traffic, and so now they're able to complete the report in a contained environment.

Once typed up, the report is then sent to the State of Michigan, becoming available online to insurance companies, road commissions, and citizens within a couple days.

"For some people it's difficult to get reports - they have a hard time getting to a sheriff's office or state police post or police department to pick up a report so they'll be able to do it at home on their computer - some people opt to do it by phone," said Sheriff Mike Borkovich of Leelanau County. "We think it's going to be a smooth system. We think it's going to give people the opportunity to have more info quicker."

The "eCrash" system will also save the officers time and money with not having to mail reports. LexisNexis will set up an online account and the law enforcement office that handled the crash will receive monthly payments for the reports paid for.

The cost to citizens who want a report will remain five dollars and just be paid online - but will be available within 24-48 hours, which is much faster than handwritten reports.