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States’ car crash data distorted by incomplete police reports

Police in New York may discern certain insufficiencies in the reports they make of auto accidents. A study from the National Safety Council shows that these insufficiencies are found nationwide and will only hinder attempts at addressing the various factors behind car crashes. It is a timely study because the number of fatal car crashes has been increasing; 2016 saw over 40,000 crash fatalities.

The NSC identified 23 critical factors but found that no state has provisions for capturing them all. It ranked Kansas and Wisconsin at the top, but these two states only captured 14 of them. Zero states have fields or codes for the measuring of driver fatigue or the documenting of ADAS use. Only three states have fields for recording the use of infotainment systems.

Relatively few states allow police to report on widespread issues like texting and hands-free cell phone use, 26 and 32 states, respectively. Police in 32 states cannot note down positive test results for drugs like marijuana. Six states do not provide for the recording of alcohol impairment at low levels, even though it is a widely recognized safety risk.

The NSC recommends that law enforcement and traffic safety organizations move toward electronic data collection and recording. Taking an investigative approach to car crashes and focusing on emerging technology-related issues are two other important steps.

A complete police report might make a big difference when victims of auto accidents decide to seek compensation for their injuries. Legal representation may also benefit the case if personal injury lawyers have networks of investigators and other experts to help bolster the case. Lawyers may be able to tackle all negotiations with the auto insurance company and prepare for litigation if a settlement isn’t achieved. A successful claim might cover victims’ medical bills, vehicle repair costs, lost income, pain and suffering and other losses.