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Great post. We need a process that ensures more consistent data collection and reporting!

We do need a better, more coordinated reporting process--hard to measure progress (or the lack of it) with poor or incomplete data. However, the data available show one thing that too many people don't seem to realize: a ridiculous number of people die (373,377 in 10 years!) as a result of car crashes in this country. As painful as viewing the traffic fatality map was, I felt it was a great tool that more people need to see. The Atlantic, CityPaper, and Post all picked it up, which is positive.

Maybe "Every FARS-Reported Traffic Fatality in the U.S. Mapped" didn't have quite the ring to it.

It's more than that. That's just "Traffic Crashes". There are another 16,000 non-traffic crashes every 10 years. And then there are all the other non-reported car deaths.

Right, I meant the number reported through the map. Your article established that there were many missed.

Great post. You can't have proper policy without proper data. I'd like to see FARS collect all the data, including those that occur off road. I assume that most of those occur with vehicles that can operate on the road, and the cause of the accident may be relevant to road-related safety. e.g. GPS errors leading people onto bike paths could also lead people the wrong way down one-way streets.

Also, if a car goes off the road and kills a pedestrian on the sidewalk, is that FARS reported or not.

It makes sense for FARS to collect all the data, then have it used by other agencies.

This report is about pedestrians, but talks about the same kinds of problems:

8% of the reported pedestrian deaths in the state database, which are reported to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), were in violation of the definitions specified by NHTSA

– 15% of the pedestrian deaths reported in 2012 do not meet the publically understood definition of a pedestrian as a person traveling by foot

– There are many opportunities for errors in the data to be introduced, from the crash scene to the reporting system to the public databases. This affects efforts to improve safety at crash locations

– There are concerns over incomplete or inconsistent police reports, as officers sometimes lack tools and training to fully investigate the collision and therefore leave out important crash details

There was an obituary I read not too long ago of some notable person who died from head trauma suffered several years ago in a bicycle-car crash. It's driving me crazy because I can't recall who it was. Anyway, I'm pretty sure it's not counted by NHTSA.

This is the same problem that the Feds have with collecting other data: its so dependent on local authorities. With certain diseases we have reporting requirements, but for other causes of death its highly dependent. e.g. in the wake of Ferguson, last year the Washington Post started tracking police-involved shootings by scanning news reports. They came up with more than twice the FBI's official numbers.

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