Without complete and accurate crash data, highway safety cannot improve. The data collected and analyzed through research at HSRC calls attention to roadway design and operational issues, unsafe driver behaviors and other serious safety problems that can be eliminated or alleviated.
Highway Safety Information System
HSRC manages and operates the Highway Safety Information System (HSIS), a multi-state research database for the Federal Highway Administration, which received top honors for Best Practices in Traffic Records at the 2001 National Safety Council’s International Traffic Records Forum. It is the only national database that allows crash data to be linked to roadway inventory and traffic operations data, thus providing the capability to conduct robust risk analyses.
An International Perspective on Traffic Data
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) National Cooperative Highway Research Program cosponsored an 11-member panel that conducted a scanning study of how agencies in the Netherlands, Germany and Australia develop and use traffic safety information systems. HSRC Deputy Director David Harkey participated in a U.S. delegation that traveled abroad to investigate this very issue.
During the trip, the scanning team found that, similar to the U.S., the number of fatalities has dropped significantly since 1980, but the rate has remained essentially constant in recent years. The countries visited have also experienced a drop in crash documentation by law enforcement agencies, but they are developing innovative methods for estimation, linkage and integration to limit the amount of data collection required. The scanning team's recommendations for U.S. use include advancing safety themes in the areas of strategy, efficiency and utility to develop a more comprehensive approach to improving information systems.
Following the trip, Harkey along with HSRC Senior Research Scientist Forrest Council developed a white paper on the implementation strategies recommended by the scanning team and required to improve safety information systems in this country.