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Could better crash reports prevent serious bicycle accidents?

When was the last time you heard about a bicycle accident in Illinois? If you read local newspapers, it's likely that you have come across at least one story about a bicyclist who was injured or killed in the last few months. In fact, earlier this week, an Englewood man died after being hit by a car while biking.

Unfortunately, bicyclists simply can't compete with drivers. Because they don't have the same protections, a crash with a car often leads to serious injuries if not death. But what if we could do something about it? What if there was a way to help protect bicyclists in Illinois and throughout the country? Researchers at Harvard believe there is.

Research scientists at Harvard recently published a report that detailed the findings of a study they conducted on improving road safety for bicyclists. The answer, they believe, could lie with police crash reports.

Traditionally, police reports on bike accidents have been low-tech drawings that don't provide as much information as they could, such as which side of the bike was hit, or how, exactly, the crash occurred. Modernizing these reports with better technology and more detailed information could help build up a more accurate database of bike crashes and how they happen. To help, the Harvard researchers created new coding data that police could use when creating bike crash reports.

Another potential benefit of more thorough police reports is that it will be easier to determine who is at fault in a crash. For purposes of filing a personal injury claim, this could be immensely helpful. The initial findings of this study seem promising and doable. It will be interesting to see if states, including Illinois, begin to adopt new standards.

Source: WBUR, "Harvard Study: Better Police Reports On Bike Crashes Could Save Lives," Rachel Zimmerman, April 3, 2015

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