Guidance for police traffic crash reports

On a typical day, over 100 Americans lose their lives in car crashes. That is like a commercial airplane falling out of the sky every other day. Yet there is little widespread public outcry about this significant and largely preventable loss of our loved ones, colleagues, and neighbors. Our research shows that news coverage of crashes may be partly to blame. However, our research shows that most journalists draw heavily from press releases when drafting articles. Thus, we are going upstream to you, the police. This handout offers 5 pieces of advice to help you improve press releases for crashes involving a person walking or biking. We suggest two areas for focus: word choice and reporting “just the facts.” We also include a Press Release template that you can use to report crashes. The full paper can be accessed here.

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