Feds Sharply Understated Number Of Deaths In High-Speed Police Chases


The U.S. government has drastically understated the number of people killed in high-speed police car chases, possibly by thousands of fatalities over several decades, reports USA Today. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) overlooked at least 101 motor-vehicle deaths in 2013 that were related to a police chase. USA Today said it based its findings on a review of police reports and internal documents, court records, police-car videos and news accounts based on police statements. The federal count of 322 chase-related deaths in 2013 understates the total by at least 31 percent.

The undercount suggests that the actual number of people killed in police chases since 1979 could be more than 15,000, far more than the 11,506 found in the agency’s public records, and that chases result in a death much more frequently than studies have stated. The findings show major flaws in how the federal government tracks motor-vehicle fatalities and, to a lesser extent, how police document high-speed chases, which often result in innocent people being killed and have been sharply restricted in some cities. USA Today reported in July that as many as one-fourth of those killed were bystanders and another one-fourth were passengers in cars fleeing police. NHTSA had no explanation for the findings and said it is reviewing 30 crashes that it lists as not involving a chase but for which the newspaper has a police report stating a chase was active at the time of a crash, or was related to a crash.

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