The state of Wyoming updated their data collection practices with regard to automobile crashes two years ago and have now compiled the first report using the more detailed information. The new system includes more specific information about factors like driver distractions, and what injuries were incurred.
Wyoming Department of Transportation representative Stephanie Lucero said that the greater detail gives officials a better, more complete view of a crash. Specifically, she told a reporter from the Casper Star-Tribune, “It gives the engineers, and anyone analyzing this data, a clearer picture of the crashes going on in the state.”
Matt Carlson, a state highway safety engineer, also supported the use of the enhanced data collection, saying, “We can use the statistics and the data … so folks who are working on safety issues can make better decisions.”
Law enforcement officers across Wyoming file 15,000 to 20,000 crash reports each year with the state Transportation Department. The reports, which come from the police and sheriff’s departments as well as state troopers, submit the reports on any wreck that involves more than $1,000 worth of damage.
Even though the increased data has been collected since 2008, last month’s report was the first to use the information. Officials explained that it takes time to compile enough information to make the results worth reporting.
Carlson explained, “One year to the next doesn’t give you enough information to see a trend or figure out an issue or a problem.”
The crash form was changed in 2008 to comply with updated federal guidelines. The original form had 150 elements. The current version has 300.
In addition to helping engineers improve highway safety, it is hoped that crash data will be used to help the auto insurance industry with pricing and claims processes.