Those states — California, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — make up nearly 23% of the U.S. population, which suggests that more than 7,700 people may have been injured nationwide in police chases in 2014. Records from those states also suggest that there were about 52,000 police chases in 2014.
“There’s been much more pressure on agencies to track these things better,” Yates said. “Departments are forced into being more transparent in 2015, which is a good thing.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an arm of the Department of Transportation, tracks chase-related deaths in its database of fatal motor-vehicle crashes. USA TODAY found inaccuracies in the database that resulted in NHTSA understating the number of people killed in police chases in 2013 by as many as 101 people. NHTSA reviewed USA TODAY’s findings and has added 11 pursuit-related deaths to the 2013 total, which had previously been 322 deaths.
“I would really question whether that 385 is close to accurate,” Farris said of the 2014 death toll. He has been lobbying Congress to require police departments to report each year to the federal government the number of deaths resulting from chases.
The number of chase-related deaths reached a high of 424 in 2007 and has been as low as 246 in 1984. NHTSA began keeping track of the information in 1979.
In recent years, a number of large police departments have adopted policies that allow police to chase only people suspected of violent felonies.