Police Reports Don't Capture Real Reasons Drivers Crash

Incomplete data is hurting efforts to save lives.

The National Safety Council examined police reports from 50 states and Washington, D.C., to determine what data states are tracking with regard to motor vehicle crashes. NSC found that no state fully captures the data required by government and traffic safety organizations to understand the real causes of crashes and effectively address the problems.

According to the NSC report, Undercounted is Underinvested: How Incomplete Crash Reports Impact Efforts to Save Lives:

● No state crash reports have fields or codes for police to record the level of driver fatigue at the time of a crash
● 26 state reports lack fields to capture texting
● 32 states lack fields to record hands-free cell phone use
● 32 states lack fields to record specific types of drug use identified on positive drug tests, including marijuana

States also fail to capture the use of advanced driver assistance technologies (50 states), teen driver restrictions (35 states) and the use of infotainment systems (47 states).

The U.S. has seen multiple consecutive years of at least 40,000 roadway deaths. Without a clear understanding of the scope of the problem, regulations, laws and policies to combat certain issues, like distracted driving, become more difficult to justify.

Critical Crash Factors

NSC identified 23 crash factors that should be captured on police reports.

NSC is calling for law enforcement and the traffic safety community to take several actions to ensure better data collection, including:

● Moving toward the use of electronic data collection
● Capturing emerging technology issues
● Adopting an investigatory approach to car crashes
● Collecting advanced driver assistance technology information and other details through electronic data recorders

A full list of recommendations can be found in the report. The more we can answer the "why" of these crashes, the more we can do to save lives.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Join us in observing Distracted Driving Awareness Month and share the message, "When you're behind the wheel, your only job is to drive."

Take the safe-driving pledge. Get free access to posters, a social media kit, a policy template for your workplace and more. NSC members also get access to webinars, a toolkit on pedestrian safety and other member exclusives.

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