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11 TraCS--Support of the Traffic and Criminal Software The use of a precise location reference method is a criti- (TraCS) is a federalstate partnership, between the cal aspect of crash data, whether analyzing the location of U.S.DOT and the state of Iowa, to demonstrate the suc- crash occurrences or using the location reference to link cessful integration of technologies for data collection, crashes to other data sources. Before the passage of the management, and communication of safety information. ISTEA legislation in 1991, complete location reference sys- In-vehicle hardware functions as a mobile data com- tems were generally available only for those roadways on the puter and for field-based reporting, such as motor carrier state-maintained highway system. Since 1991, there has been safety inspections, citations, Implied Consent [driving more emphasis on referencing locations for local roadways under the influence (DUI)] forms, and incident and crash as well. Illinois, Michigan, and Missouri are examples of the reports. The system uses wireless data communications, many states that have moved toward a location referencing mobile video, GPS, GIS, and bar codes (29,30). TraCS system that identifies all roadway locations, usually as part use has spread from Iowa into several other states. of a GIS for mapping those locations. Electronic identification--This encompasses a group of technologies that allow storage, retrieval, and compar- An NCHRP study of highway crash and roadway systems ison of personal identifying data. NHTSA has been describes the advantages and disadvantages of using partic- involved in the development and testing of new driver ular location referencing methods (32). Of most importance license technologies for several years (27). These include to this discussion is the need to use a second location refer- magnetic strip, bar code, digital photo, digital finger- encing method when coordinates are the primary location printing, and "smart card" technologies. The data can identifiers or a carefully constructed linear referencing sys- include names, coded numbers (such as a driver's license tem. The use of coordinates alone can create difficulties in number), and addresses, along with personal descrip- trying to merge data files because of the level of precision tive or biometric information (e.g., digital photo, eye needed to match the locations. For example, a roadway file color, height, weight, thumbprint, and iris scan). may identify a location to a particular point, whereas a crash location code may identify a spot several meters from that As early as 1993, FHWA found numerous examples of roadway point. It can be difficult to identify high crash loca- technologies already being used for crash data collection. tions because a particular coordinate identifying a location in The most prevalent technologies available at that time were a crash file (because of its precision) may match only one or various configurations of portable computers for field data two crash records. Knowledge of the roadway and a well- collection, GPS for identifying locations, magnetic strips defined linear referencing system allows the effective corre- and bar codes for driver identification, and bar codes for lation between the various coordinate locations to form a vehicle identification (23). These technologies, along with meaningful picture of crash experience. digital cameras and scanners for optical mark sensing and/or optical character recognition, were identified in that study as components of a model crash data collection system. INSTITUTIONAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL BARRIERS LOCATION REFERENCE Pfefer et al. (24), the authors of an NCHRP study of safety information to support highway design, suggested several An early NCHRP Synthesis described a location reference organizational and institutional strategies that can affect crash method as "a way to identify a specific location with respect data quality. A few of the issues from that report included: to a known point," including three elements: "(a) identifica- tion of a known point, (b) a measurement from the known Poor communication of changes (e.g., new roadways point, and (c) a direction of measurement" (31). The two basic not identified in crash system), location reference methods described in that study are still in Lack of access to other data systems (e.g., files reside in use today: different agencies), Inadequate training and feedback for data collectors, Sign-oriented methods (milepost, reference post) and Lack of linkages with other databases resulting in dupli- Document-oriented methods (calculated mile points, cate data collection, route log, straight-line diagrams). Changes in forms and procedures without adequate communication and review, and A variation of the sign-oriented method (i.e., locations No standardized methods of identifying locations. determined in the field) in practice today is the use of GPS or automatic vehicle locator to identify the coordinates of the There are numerous barriers to using crash or other data location. A variation of the document-oriented method cur- that could be considered institutional, organizational, or sys- rently in use is a selection of a location using a GIS map. tematic. There is often inadequate knowledge about the exis- Examples of the more advanced site locator routines are tence of crash data and its availability, a failure to document available in the Iowa TraCS software and the Illinois Mobile the conditions of its collection, varying definitions and mea- Crash Reporting System (MCRS) software. suring instruments, and simple reluctance to confront the

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12 adverse consequences of misusing or misunderstanding these Goal 22: Creating More Effective Processes and Safety data. Access to these data can be affected by the ownership Management Systems. of the data, security issues, and the costs to collect and gen- erate the data. States have taken significant initial steps to address some of these barriers by developing new directives, documenta- The NSC's National Agenda for improving safety infor- tion, and instructions; creating statewide traffic records coor- mation systems includes the following six goals to address dinating committees; and promulgating new tools and stan- the organizational and institutional barriers that have an dards for the crash and other data records systems. Efforts to impact on crash and other components of traffic records sys- transform the existing culture have included implementing tems (33): incentives (usually financial), overcoming disincentives, educating and training the decision makers and the users and Instill an appreciation for the value of highway safety providers of data, and implementing new processes to effect information systems. change in the crash records systems. Establish a means by which collection, management, and the use of safety data can be coordinated among all The implementation plan for the international scan for organizations and jurisdictional levels. traffic safety information systems (35) proposes a number of Integrate the planning of highway safety programs and strategies to update AASHTO's Goal 21. These include information systems. activities such as: Provide the resources necessary to select appropriate technology. Marketing traffic safety information to increase public Establish a cadre of professionals trained in appropriate and political awareness of its importance. analytical methods. Simplifying data collection by law enforcement officers Promote technical standards for the characteristics of by increasing the automation of data and only gathering information systems. data necessary to be collected in the field. Supporting electronic data collection of all types of The AASHTO Strategic Plan for Highway Safety (34) sup- data; for example, crash, roadway, traffic, driver, and ports these goals with specific recommendations in the man- medical. agement area that deal with gathering and analyzing crash data: These and other strategies are discussed in more detail in a FHWA working document, Scan Technology Implementa- Goal 21: Improving Information and Decision Support tion Plan, which was developed based on the findings of the Systems. scan team.