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States Urged to Update Crash Reporting Rules

August 01, 2017

The Governors Highway Safety Association and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are encouraging states to adopt new guidelines for the collection motor vehicle crash data. Photo by Harui Lee/Wikimedia Commons.
The Governors Highway Safety Association and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are encouraging states to adopt new guidelines for the collection motor vehicle crash data. Photo by Harui Lee/Wikimedia Commons.

The Governors Highway Safety Association and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have jointly released new guidelines for the collection of motor vehicle crash data, in hopes of fostering more robust traffic safety research.

The updated guidelines reflect the “latest behavioral and technological changes impacting vehicles, drivers, and front-line data collectors,” GHSA said in a released statement.

These voluntary guidelines, embodied in the new edition of the "Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria" (MMUCC) report, identify a range of motor vehicle crash elements and characteristics. The guidelines are also intended to promote greater uniformity in collected crash data, so information can be more readily shared among organizations at the local, state and national levels.

“So much is changing on our roadways, and traffic fatalities are increasing at an alarming rate,” said Jonathan Adkins, GHSA executive director. “We need good data to make informed decisions about how to change driver behaviors and save more lives. GHSA strongly encourages states to align their crash records with MMUCC [Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria] and collect comprehensive, consistent data that is critical to pinpointing regional and national trends.”

In addition to GHSA and NHTSA, agencies contributing to the updated guidelines include the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. Input was also solicited from state Departments of Transportation, local law enforcement agencies, safety advocacy groups, emergency medical service providers, researchers from the academic sector, and the general public.

In a released statement, the National Safety Council (NSC) praised the guidelines update and called the changes "long overdue." A previous NSC report found that 26 states lack fields on their crash reports to indicate whether a driver was texting, and 32 states lack fields to identify drug test results. Currently, no state is capturing information about whether a motor vehicle automation system was engaged at the time of the crash.

"Traffic safety professionals and organizations go where the data tell us to go, but we cannot concentrate our efforts or dedicate the right amount of resources if the data are incomplete," NSC said.

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