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Better accident reports could prevent bike accidents

When it comes to personal injury matters, accident reports are very important. They provide information about what exactly happened, what caused the crash, and other helpful details -- or at least they should.

Harvard researchers recently concluded a study in which they reviewed hundreds of bicycle vs. motor vehicle accident reports. What they found was that many lacked important information, including what caused the accident and where the two vehicles hit each other. As more and more people choose to ride bikes over other forms of transportation, researchers believe that improving the data collected through crash reports will be crucial if we hope to better understand the common causes of bike accidents.

To help remedy this problem, researchers created a new set of standards for reporting crashes between bicycles and cars. Researchers say police officers should start reporting the "bicycle environment" -- which could include a road with a bike lane, a road with no bike lane or a road with a protected bike lane. Next, the points of impact should be carefully considered. Finally, police should record the type of vehicle involved and where the bicyclist was at the time of the crash -- in the bike lane or not.

The hope is that better data about bike accidents will help protect bicyclists as well as others on the road. Understanding accident trends can help cities make informed decisions about how to protect everyone who uses the road. It could even result in safety innovations from the auto industry.

As we wait to see whether police in New York will consider investing their time and efforts into more detailed bicycle accident reports, it is important to know that if you are involved in a crash while riding your bike, it may be wise to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you understand your options for seeking compensation.

Source: CityLab, "How Better Data on Bike Crashes Could Lead to Safer Streets for All," Sarah Goodyear, April 2, 2015

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