Generally, after a traffic accident occurs, police will make a report on the accident. Collisions between bicycles and automobiles are no exception to this. However, there are currently some limitations that are present when it comes to police reports on bicycle accidents. One of these limitations is that there, generally, aren’t a lot of reporting codes related to bicycles in the current, handwritten, police reporting systems in the various states.
Recently, a group of researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has made a request to all states to make updates to their police practices when it comes to reporting on bicycle-involved traffic accidents to address these limitations. Among the police reporting updates that the researchers are asking for are switching from handwriting reports to creating reports electronically through electronic tablets and increasing the number of bicycle-related codes available for use in reports.
One of the things data from crash reports is sometimes used for is research on traffic safety. The researchers requesting the updates to police reporting practices on bicycle vs. automobile accidents argue that the updates they are requesting could make for better data sets for safety research, which could perhaps lead to valuable insights on how best to make the roads as safe as possible for bicyclists.
Of course, safety research is not the only thing information from police reports is used for. When a bicyclist is a victim of a traffic accident, the police report on their accident can be a valuable source of information on the details of the crash. Thus, a question worth considering when it comes to the researchers’ proposal is: if police departments in the U.S., such as police departments here in Oklahoma, did make the proposed updates to their reporting practices, would these changes in practices have any impact on the quality of information bicycle accident victims would have access to from police reports?
Do you think police departments here in Oklahoma should make the changes the researchers are suggesting? If such changes were made here in the state, what impacts do you think they would have?
Experienced personal injury attorneys can help bicycle accident victims with reviewing the details of the police report of their accident and other aspects of investigating the details of a crash.
Source: University Herald, “Detailed Crash Reports May Improve Bicycle Safety,” April 5, 2015