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NHTSA Traffic Accident Data Is Unreliable
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides grants to the states so that they can compile accurate information on traffic accidents and fatalities. The states and NHTSA use the compiled information for a variety of purposes with the goal of improving traffic safety. The Government Accounting Office investigated the grant program and the quality of accident information generated by the states. The GAO's report concluded that both the grant program and the accident information flunk basic quality standards. In the GAO 's own words:

    "[T]he 9 state traffic safety data systems we reviewed varied widely in the degree to which they met NHTSA's six recommended quality criteria for crash information [footnote omitted]. None of the state data systems we reviewed appeared to meet all of the criteria, which affected the usefulness and reliability of the data."
With regard to the grant program itself, the GAO report recommends "that, if the Congress reauthorises the traffic safety incentive grant program, the Secretary of Transportation direct NHTSA to ensure better accountability and management of grant documentation and improved monitoring and oversight...."

Accurate traffic accident information is necessary to save lives. The GAO report explains that "[a]uto crashes kill or injure millions pf people each year. Information about where and why such crashes occur is important in reducing this toll, both for identifying particular hazards and for planning safety efforts at the state and federal levels." The NHTSA and state government failure to develop accurate accident information is inexcusable.
  • Click for GAO report on state accident data.

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