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Incomplete car accident reports endanger lives

Law enforcement agencies in California and elsewhere are failing to accurately record the causes of certain motor vehicle accidents, according to the National Safety Council. As a result, it could be putting lives at risk.

Researchers from the agency analyzed police reports from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., to see what types of car crash data each state tracks. They discovered that no state gathers enough data for the federal government and traffic safety organizations to accurately evaluate the causes of accidents. The lack of information also hinders their efforts to develop ways to prevent crashes.

The report, entitled "Undercounted is Underinvested: How Incomplete Crash Reports Impact Efforts to Save Lives," determined that no police reports in California or other states have areas for officers to record a driver's fatigue level at the time of an accident. It further determined that reports in 26 states lack areas to record if a driver was texting before a crash and reports in 32 states lack areas to record both hands-free cell phone use and specific types of drug use. Meanwhile, 50 states fail to record the use of advanced driver assistance technologies, 35 states fail to record teen driver restrictions and 47 states fail to record the use of infotainment systems. Finally, reports in California and five other states fail to provide areas for police to capture low-level alcohol impairment.

In 2016, approximately 40,000 Americans were killed in car accidents across the country. Many of these crashes were caused by negligent drivers, including distracted drivers, reckless drivers and impaired drivers. Victims of car crashes caused by other drivers could file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for damages, including medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. An attorney might be able to review a victim's case and help prepare the claim.

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