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Police collect incomplete picture about causes of car crashes

Police have a lot on their hands when they respond to car accidents in Iowa. They need to prepare a report that describes the crash, but a new report from the National Safety Council calls out law enforcement nationwide for failing to record whole categories of reasons that cause traffic accidents. The council's nationwide analysis of police data collection practices found gaping holes in reporting procedures. Not one single state had a reporting field or code for driver fatigue. As for crashes that result from texting and driving, 26 states have no way to assign that as a contributing factor.

Researchers at the NSC believe that the haphazard collection of crash data undermines safety programs. According to its report, safety advocates cannot properly address traffic hazards when they cannot be fully identified and measured.

Few police reporting systems have the capability of tracking accidents caused by technology use. Accidents arising from hands-free cell phone use would go unrecorded in 32 states. Despite the increasing legality of marijuana use, 32 states have no way to collect data about the specific drugs used by drivers whose drug tests returned positive results. The NSC wants law enforcement to make the collection of crash data a priority because of the substantial 14 percent increase in traffic fatalities between 2014 and 2016.

The deteriorating traffic safety environment leaves many survivors with serious injuries that require expensive medical care and time away from work. A person in this situation because of a negligent driver could enlist an attorney to tackle tasks like investigating an accident and filing a lawsuit. An attorney familiar with litigating car accidents could work with an accident reconstruction specialist to gather evidence. Attempts by an insurance company to reduce a settlement might fail against an attorney knowledgeable about such tactics.

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