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Incomplete police reports harm efforts to prevent car crashes

According to the National Safety Council, there are 23 possible factors in car crashes that police officers must be able to report on. However, all 50 states and Washington, D.C., fail to include fields or codes for reporting all of these critical factors. This is the conclusion of a report entitled, "Undercounted is Underinvested: How Incomplete Crash Reports Impact Efforts to Save Lives." Ohio residents may want to know the details.

Zero states have fields or codes for reporting the level of fatigue that drivers were experiencing at the time of a crash. Police in zero states are able to report on the use of driver assistance technologies, and only three states provide for the reporting of infotainment system use. Few states have fields for common offenses like texting and hands-free cell phone use.

Police in 32 states lack the ability to record specific types of drug use identified on positive drug tests. Of the eight states that have decriminalized recreational marijuana use, only four have made provisions for police to record positive marijuana results.

Kansas and Wisconsin captured the most safety-critical factors: 14 out of 23. Next come Maryland, Kentucky and Nebraska, which only capture five. Without a clear understanding of crash factors, it can be difficult to justify attempts to combat them.

Victims of motor vehicle accidents will certainly want the police reports to be as thorough as possible; that way, they may be used to back up a personal injury claim. A personal injury lawyer may have access to a network of professionals, including investigators, to help build up the case. The lawyer may also handle all negotiations with the other party's auto insurance company, preparing the case for court if a settlement cannot be agreed upon.

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