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Regulators struggle to understand the reasons for crashes

Philadelphia motorists often have little understanding of the true causes of auto crashes. Even police reports often don't fully reflect the reasons why accidents happened. When the National Safety Council reviewed police reports nationwide, it found that no state records all of the data that traffic safety groups and the government need to determine the major causes of crashes. By understanding why car accidents happen, safety officials can take steps to improve their prevention.

Fatalities caused by car accidents are on the rise. In 2016, around 40,000 people were killed in crashes, an increase of 6 percent over 2015 and 14 percent over 2014 figures. Many have pointed to distracted driving as a major factor in this elevated danger, but the methods used to track crashes do not allow researchers to fully understand its impact. No states provide a field or code for police to record significant driver fatigue when reporting a crash. In addition, 26 states do not provide a field for police to note if a driver involved in a crash was texting at the time. Six more states do not provide a way for police to note hands-free cell phone use at the time of an accident.

Other potential dangers are also not easily recorded by police. In 47 states, there is no clear way to indicate that a driver was using an infotainment system at the time of a crash. In 32 states, there is no field to record the specific drugs identified when a driver is accused of operating under the influence.

Auto accidents can lead to catastrophic injuries and permanent disabilities. They are often caused by distracted or otherwise negligent driving. A personal injury lawyer could help accident victims to seek compensation for their medical bills and lost wages if it can be determined that it was the fault of another driver.

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