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Saving lives with full data

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According to data from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, 519 pedestrians were injured or even killed on Boston’s streets from 2010 to 2012. But that’s not the whole picture. Police and emergency-medical records obtained by the Globe show that officers responded to over 750 accidents involving pedestrians in 2013 alone. Police just don’t want to fill out the paperwork that the state uses to keep track of accidents.

Police officials say that filling out the state forms in addition to their standard reports is wasteful, and officers are better used patrolling the streets. But other police departments manage. For departments in most municipalities the state form doubles as a police report; Boston could follow suit. Alternatively, upgrades to police software completed earlier this year might allow officers to report their data to state agencies without filling out additional paperwork.

Boston police officials met with engineers from MassDOT on Tuesday to find a way for the police to more effectively share their data. That’s a step in the right direction, but in the meantime, police should fill out the forms. By not reporting crashes, Boston potentially missed out on participating in a $500,000 state program to fund traffic enforcement and awareness campaigns for pedestrians. Boston might have missed larger grants in the past for the same reason. To reduce the number of pedestrians killed or injured in Boston, state and local authorities need to be working off the same data.

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