How crash data works

Vehicle with heavy damage is shown in the middle of the road at night with police lights in background.
What crash data includes and where it comes from.

We use crash data as one way to understand how and where people are hurt or killed while traveling on Portland streets.

Most crash data relies on self-reported information, and not all traffic-related deaths are included in the official record.

Which crashes get captured in crash data?

Property damage only

Crash reports are required if the crash involves a motor vehicle and damage is at least $2,500.

Injuries or deaths

Crash reports are required for all crashes involving a motor vehicle that result in injuries (no matter how minor) or in death.

In accordance with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's FARS/CRSS Coding and Validation Manual, the American National Standards Institute's Manual on Classification of Motor Vehicle Traffic Accidents, and the Oregon Department of Transportation's (ODOT) Motor Vehicle Traffic Crash Analysis and Code Manual, Portland crash data excludes people who die:

  • More than 30 days after a crash
  • Intentionally (suicide)
  • In an act of homicide (a person intentionally crashes into another person)
  • In a crash not involving a motor vehicle
  • From a prior medical event (e.g. a heart attack or drug overdose)
  • In a crash in a parking lot

We report only deaths that meet these criteria, but use all available data to inform safety fixes.

Crash data sources

There are typically between 10,000 and 12,000 reported crashes in Portland each year. The ODOT compiles information about these crashes to create the state’s official crash record.

ODOT releases the complete official crash record 12 to 18 months after the end of the year reported. For example, 2016 crash data was made available in May of 2018.

Diagram of crash data sources
Crash data starts with self-reports or police reports and is processed by the State of Oregon.

For deadly crash data, we use information provided directly by the Portland Police Bureau (PPB). This allows for the most up-to-date information about traffic deaths.

ODOT compiles the official crash record using two sources of information: self-reporting and traffic crash investigations.

  1. Self-reported crash data: Self-reported crashes are the sole source of information for most crashes in the official record. In Oregon, crash participants are required to submit the Oregon Accident and Insurance Report form to the Department of Motor Vehicles if the event involves direct contact with a motor vehicle and there is an injury, death, or at least $2,500 in property damage.
  2. Police investigations: PPB investigations complement self-reported data by providing more information (e.g. on impairment or distraction) gathered via independent trained personnel.

PPB investigates only the most serious crashes:

  • PPB investigate crashes involving people walking, biking, or e-scootering if they are involved in a crash with a person driving and are transported in an ambulance.
  • If there is not a person walking, biking, or e-scootering involved, police investigate a crash if a crash participant is entered into the trauma system by an emergency responder while on-scene.

The PPB's Major Crash Team conducts the most comprehensive crash investigations. Officers activate the Major Crash Team when people die or suffer injuries that are judged likely to result in death. 

Accessing Portland crash data