Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2016

Degree Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

John Steward, MPH

Second Advisor

Grant Baldwin, PHD, MPH

Third Advisor

Katelyn DiGiogia

Abstract

Bicycle crashes result in many injuries and deaths in the United States each year. Bicyclists represented 2.3 percent of the total traffic crash fatalities in 2013, despite the bicycle mode share being less than 1%. Bicycle crash fatality data is collected at the federal level through FARS. However, FARS relies on state-level data that is coded by state analysts. The Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria (MMUCC) provides guidance to the states on which elements should be reported in a crash. However, the MMUCC is currently optional, and states are very inconsistent in their bicycle crash reporting policies. Better crash reporting policies would provide more accurate and consistent data on the public health impact of bicycle crashes.

A 50-state survey of bicycle crash reporting laws using Westlaw Next was conducted. The survey revealed that very few states legislate bicycle crash reporting. Only six states currently have a statute relating to bicycle crash reporting and only four states have a regulation that requires bicycle crash reporting. Of the states with a statute or regulation, only six of them have at least one law that requires reporting that exceeds what is reported by FARS.

To better understand the public health impact of bicycle crash reporting, all states should follow the MMUCC guidelines. A model law should be developed that requires reporting of crashes involving a bicyclist who is injured or killed and requires that reports include specific data in a consistent format. Laws should require reporting of specific precrash data so that infrastructure can be implemented which better protects bicyclists. Each state should adopt the model law or a similar version of it. Because law is not always one-hundred percent enforced, bicycle advocacy groups and public health departments and organizations should provide education on the importance of bicycle crash reporting.

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