banner - The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (with photo collage)

Data Collection and Analysis

letter The collection and analysis of valid data is critical to any approach intended to increase the level of highway safety and subsequently decrease the incidents of vehicle crashes. In creating effective interventions that support traffic enforcement functions, a founding principle mandates the collection and analysis of data to identify opportunities for change and to support specific enforcement initiatives. An effective data collection system provides accurate, timely information to field personnel who are performing primary traffic functions, and to management for decision making. Data is usually collected from crash reports, daily officer activity reports that contain workload and citation information, highway department records (e.g., traffic volume), citizen complaints, and officer observations. An effective records program should:

  • provide information rapidly and accurately;

  • provide information that is relevant to the program tasks;

  • provide routine compilations of data for management use in the decision making process;

  • provide data for operational planning and execution;

  • interface with a variety of data systems, including statewide traffic safety records systems;

  • be accessible to enforcement, planners, and management; and

  • should contain mechanisms to integrate, in a timely manner, local jurisdiction data into the State enforcement program.

Data should be analyzed to target specific problems at the local level and should be shared with statewide law enforcement partners, through the SHSO, resulting in enhancement of projects in adjacent jurisdictions. This will produce greater effectiveness in areas contending with similar problems. Law enforcement administrators should use data to immediately address issues and problems.