A study from the National Safety Council shows that Missouri police are not capturing all the possible car crash factors in their reports. In fact, no state captures all 23 of the factors that the NSC believes are essential to knowing the reason for a crash. For example, no state has a field or code for police to measure driver fatigue.
Only 34 states have a field for reporting whether a driver was texting while only 28 had a field for hands-free phone use and the use of drugs, such as marijuana, that can be detected through a positive drug test. No state has a way to report on the use of advanced driver assistance systems, and only three capture the use of infotainment systems.
The police reports in Kansas and Wisconsin capture 14 of the 23 factors, putting them at the top. At the bottom of the list are Maryland, Kentucky and Nebraska with only five factors. Several major states, including California and New York, have no way of recording alcohol impairment at levels below the legal limit of .08.
The NSC concludes with several recommendations. States should update their police reports to reflect advances in technology. They should move toward electronic data collection and take a more investigatory approach to crashes.
More comprehensive police reports can be a benefit to those victims of car accidents who wish to file a personal injury claim. Police reports are an important piece of evidence when it comes to proving that the defendant was drowsy, distracted or negligent in some other way. Victims may want a lawyer to assist with the filing. Investigators might gather the evidence for the lawyer, and the lawyer may then strive for a settlement at the negotiation table.