HIGHWAY SAFETY PROGRAM
GUIDELINE No. 10
Each State, in cooperation with its political subdivisions, should establish and implement a complete and comprehensive traffic records program. The Statewide program should include, or provide for, data for the entire State. A complete and comprehensive traffic records program is essential for the development and operation of a viable Safety Management System and effective traffic-related injury control efforts. It is also essential for the performance of planning, problem identification, operational management and control, tracking of safety trends, and the implementation and evaluation of highway safety countermeasures and activities. It is the key ingredient to safety effectiveness and management.
- TRAFFIC RECORDS SYSTEM
To provide a complete and useful records system for safety program management at both the State and local level, the State should have a data base consisting of the following:
- A Crash File with data on the time, environment, and circumstances of a crash; identification of the vehicles, drivers, cyclists, occupants, and pedestrians involved; and documentation of crash consequences (fatalities, injuries, property damage and violations charged) with the data tied to a location reference system;
- A Driver File or driver history record of licensed drivers in the State, with data on personal identification and driver license number, type of license, license status (suspended or revoked), driver restrictions, driver convictions for traffic violations, crash history, driver control or improvement actions, and safety education data;
- A Vehicle File with information on identification, ownership and taxation, and vehicle inspection (where applicable);
- A Roadway File with information about roadway location, identification, and classification as well as a description of a road's total physical characteristics, which are tied to a location reference system. This file should also contain data for normalizing purposes, such as miles of roadway and average daily traffic (ADT);
- A Commercial Motor Vehicle Crash File which uses uniform data definitions and collects information on the vehicle configuration, cargo body type, hazardous materials, information to identify the motor carrier, as well as information on the crash (States are encouraged to use available information systems to cross-reference commercial vehicle citations for violations of Federal and State commercial vehicle safety regulations);
- A Citation/Conviction File which identifies the type of citation and the time, date, and location of the violation; the violator, vehicle and the enforcement agency; and adjudication action and results, including court of jurisdiction (an Enforcement/Citation File could be maintained separate from a Judicial/Conviction File) and fines assessed and collected;
- An Emergency Medical Services (EMS) file with emergency care and victim outcome information about ambulance responses to crashes, e.g., emergency care unit, care given, injury data, and times of EMS notification and arrival; information on emergency facility and hospital care, including Trauma Registry data; and medical outcome data relative to crash victims receiving rehabilitation and for those who died as the result of the crash; and
- Provisions for file linkage through common data elements between the files or through other consistent means; performance level data as part of the traffic records system; demographic data to normalize or adjust for exposure when analyzing the various data in the files; and provisions for the use of cost data relative to amounts spent on countermeasure programs and the costs of fatalities, injuries and property damage.
- DATA CHARACTERISTICS
Traffic records programs should meet basic requirements for the most effective use of the data by program managers. Accordingly, each State should emphasize the following characteristics:
- An accurate identification of the crash location;
- Timely, accurate, and complete data collection and input to all files, and especially to the Crash and Driver Files, to assure maximum utilization and confidence in the traffic records system. Each state is encouraged to join and fully participate in the driver license compact to ensure that complete data are available from other states;
- Data uniformity, providing for uniform coding and definition of data elements to allow a State to compare its crash problems to other States, regions and the nation; and the use of uniform coding of violations and convictions for the efficient exchange of driver information between States;
- Data consistency within a State over time to provide for multi-year analysis of data to detect trends and for identification of emerging problems, as well as to determine beneficial effects of highway safety programs; and
- Timely, accurate, and complete data output to ensure that highway safety program managers will have records that are accessible, understandable, and effective.
- USE OF TRAFFIC RECORDS
The measure of a good records system is the degree to which it is used by those it was designed to serve. Each State will develop and operate a Safety Management System and must use traffic records as part of that System. In addition, each State should establish a process for the effective use of traffic records by highway safety management and other injury control professionals both Statewide and for political subdivisions, when conducting the following activities:
- Performing planning, problem identification, program management or control, tracking, implementation and evaluation, pursuant to a management process developed by the State which addresses the role or use of traffic records data;
- Developing a problem identification strategy that specifies the necessary data, assures that accurate and timely data are available, defines the analyses conducted (including the variables used, statistical tests applied, and trends examined), and describes how results are reported and used;
- Conducting analyses and presenting results so that they are clearly understood and usable by managers, including the use of problem reports which describe the magnitude of the problems, and appropriate graphs, tables and charts to support the conclusions reached; and
- Performing program evaluation, beginning at the planning stage and carrying through implementation and final evaluation, essentially using the same types of data that were used in developing the programs implemented.
- MANAGING TRAFFIC RECORDS
Each State should have an organizational structure in place for effective administration of its traffic records program, at a minimum consisting of the following components:
- A permanent Traffic Records Committee, representing the principal users and custodians of the data in the State, that provides administrative and technical guidance. The Committee should be responsible for adopting requirements for file structure and linkage, assessing capabilities and resources, establishing goals for improving the traffic records program, evaluating the program, continuously developing cooperation and support from State and local agencies as well as the private sector, and ensuring that high quality and timely data are available to authorized persons or agencies for appropriate use;
- A single state agency with responsibility for coordinating the traffic safety-related data aspects of the various State information systems. This would include ensuring that the necessary data were available for use in safety and analyses; and
- Professional staff with analytical expertise to perform data analysis for program planning and evaluation, including a basic understanding of data processing as it relates to the use of personal computers (PCs) and the ability to use PC software application packages to perform problem identification and program evaluation tasks.