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North Carolina Crash Report Guide: How to Read Your NC Crash Report

If a police officer arrived at the scene of your accident, they will file a crash report known as Form DMV-349. Crash reports contain crucial details about an accident including insurance information, witness accounts, and a report of what happened and which driver was at fault for the collision. Because of all the information they contain, crash reports use numerical codes to describe the accident details. Below is a quick guide to decode the most important information on your NC crash report.  

On the first page of a crash report, there will be a total of 12 numbered boxes along the right margin that provide a quick overview of who the officer determined to be at fault. For most accidents, boxes 14-19 will be most important. Boxes 14-16 will note up to three things that the first driver did or failed to do which contributed to the car crash. Likewise, boxes 17-19 will note up to three things that the second driver did or failed to do that contributed to the car crash. The codes for these “fault boxes” are as follows:

0 – No contributing circumstances indicated

1 – Disregarded yield sign

2 – Disregarded stop sign

3 – Disregarded other traffic signs

4 – Disregarded traffic signals

5 – Disregarded road markings

6 – Exceeded authorized speed limit

7 – Exceeded safe speed for conditions

8 – Failure to reduce speed

9 – Improper turn

10 – Right turn on red

11 – Crossed centerline/going wrong way

12 – Improper lane change

13 – Use of improper lane

14 – Overcorrected/oversteered

15 – Passed stopped school bus

16 – Passed on hill

17 – Passed on curve

18 – Other improper passing

19 – Failed to yield right of way

20 – Inattention

21 – Improper backing

22 – Improper parking

23 – Driver distracted

24 – Improper or no signal

25 – Followed too closely

26 – Operated vehicle in erratic, reckless, careless, negligent or aggressive manner

27 – Swerved or avoided due to wind, slippery surface, vehicle, object, non-motorist

28 – Visibility obstructed

29 – Operated defective equipment

30 – Alcohol use

31 – Drug use

32 – Other* (Described in Narrative Portion)

33 – Unable to determine

34 – Unknown

Boxes 12-13 will note any roadway circumstances that contributed to the accident, such as bad weather conditions or malfunctioning traffic signals. The codes for the “roadway boxes” are as follows:

0 – None (no unusual conditions)

1 – Road Surface Condition

2 – Debris

3 – Rut, Holes, Bumps

4 – Work Zone (construction, maintenance, utility)

5 – Worn Travel-Polished Surface

6 – Obstruction in Roadway

7 – Traffic Control Device Inoperative, Not Visible or Missing

8 – Shoulders Low, Soft or High

9 – No Shoulders

10 – Non-Highway Work

11 – Other* (Described in Narrative Portion)

12 – Unknown

Last of all, at the bottom of the first page of a crash report, boxes 28 and 32 will note airbag status along with what type of injuries the drivers and passengers sustained. Box 28 will show whether airbags deployed with the following codes:

0 – No air bags in vehicle

1 – Not deployed

2 – Deployed from front

3 – Deployed from side

4 – Deployed from both front and side

5 – Unknown

Box 32 will show what injuries the officer observed on the scene with the following codes:

1 – Fatality

2 – Disabling injury observed. This is used when the officer observes an obvious and serious injury that will prevent a person from performing normal day-to-day activities for at least one day after the crash.

3 – Evident injury observed. This is used when the officer can observe an injury that is not fatal or disabling, including bruises, swelling, and limping.

4 – Possible injury. This is used when the officer does not observe a visible injury but there are complaints of pain or there is momentary unconsciousness from the injured party.

5 – No injury

6 – Unknown

When you receive your crash report, it is good idea to check through the information to make sure that it is accurate. For more information on how to get a copy of your crash report, you can also read our article, “How to Get a Crash Report in North Carolina.”

Our personal injury attorneys have been helping injured people in Raleigh, Durham, Garner, Cary, Chapel Hill, and across North Carolina for years. If you were injured in a car accident and need help, you can speak to one of our personal injury attorneys today at no cost by calling us at 919-348-7727 or by emailing us at info@tienlawfirm.com.

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