WASHINGTON -- The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has posted the 4th edition of the Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria (MMUCC) Guideline  in hopes of helping states determine what data to collect at the scene of a motor vehicle crash.  

The voluntary guideline, GHSA said, will help states better capture data about safety issues such as distracted driving, secondary crashes and incidents on private property. The guideline will also help determine the level of serious injury from motor vehicle crashes. States will be able to use federal funding authorized under the new surface transportation MAP-21 legislation to make improvements in their crash and other related data systems and come into compliance with the new MMUCC guideline.

"Accurate data is essential for states in planning their highway safety programs and selecting countermeasures that will have the most impact in reducing crashes, serious injuries and fatalities," said Barbara Harsha, GHSA executive director. "States use their crash data to better assess where to invest their limited resources. MMUCC provides the tool that helps states collect the most complete, accurate and informative crash data."

 "Increasing our understanding of the dangers that continue to threaten drivers and passengers traveling on our roadways is essential to improving traffic safety," said David Strickland, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) administrator. "The new guidelines will serve as a useful tool for gathering more accurate and consistent crash data on emerging safety issues, including distracted driving."

The new distracted driving data element is more descriptive and includes attributes such as manually operating an electronic communications device, talking on a hands-free electronic device, talking on a hand-held electronic device, as well as other activity inside and outside the vehicle.  

"The intent is for law enforcement to capture a wider range of information about drivers in crashes who were obviously distracted," said Harsha.

MMUCC also includes a better definition of serious injuries by breaking injuries down into five clearly defined categories: fatal, suspected serious injury, suspected minor injury, possible injury and no apparent injury.

GHSA noted that including a better definition of serious injuries will encourage better collection of related data. Eventually, technological progress will enable states to more easily link electronic crash data with other electronic injury data such as EMS and hospital databases.

GHSA and NHTSA co-managed the update process, which was underwritten with funding from NHTSA. GHSA and NHTSA sought comments online and at meetings, and that feedback figured into the guideline update. 

An MMUCC expert panel -- consisting of state and local law enforcement officials, state traffic records coordinators, state department of transportation representatives, state health officials, members of the research community and officials from five federal agencies -- helped GHSA and NHTSA oversee the guideline updating effort.

For distracted driving resources and laws, visit www.ghsa.org/html/issues/distraction/index.html.