Could Inadequate Police Reports Be Contributing To The Number Of Bicycle Deaths?

 Anne Lusk, a research scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health, believes this to be true and says in a new study published in the journal of Injury Prevention. She and her colleagues have created a blueprint for improving bike-vehicle crash reports.

Lusk said in an interview with Boston’s WBUR radio station that instead of the standard glib, handwritten and standard crash reports, officers should:

“use electronic tablets with drop down menus that have specific vehicle/bicycle codes, for instance, whether the bicyclist was riding inside a painted bike lane when hit, or whether the cyclist crashed into a driver’s open car door. The drop down menu would also include other specific data like a coded vehicle picture and a coded bicycle picture. This information could then be automatically loaded onto spreadsheets for later analysis.”

Joshua Zisson, a Boston lawyer who specializes in bike-related cases and runs BikeSafeBoston, a website about bike law, told WBUR:

“The proposed changes would make a huge difference in determining what happened in a crash, and who was at fault. In the three years since I started my bike practice, I’ve seen hundreds of police reports describing bike vs. motor vehicle crashes, and I would only consider a handful of them to be well written and properly descriptive. The majority range from bad to absolutely awful (i.e., too vague, too brief, poorly illustrated, not illustrated). Giving officers better tools to describe a crash with a bike will almost certainly allow them to do a better job, as they won’t have to force their description of events into a framework designed for cars.”

With gas prices the way they are these days and traffic issues, these changes are crucial.  The League of American Bicyclists, state that the number of commuters who bike to and from work has increased about 62 percent nationwide from 2000 to 2013.   Bicyclists are usually riding during commute hours and we need to learn to accommodate them.

Our law enforcement needs to figure out a way to help bicyclists after an accident, take care of the paperwork in a manner that will help cities determine what changes need to be made in order to make it safer for them to arrive safely at work, and also make it easy for vehicular traffic.

References:  http://nextcity.org/daily/entry/study-police-reports-bike-accidents-save-lives