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18 16 14 13 12 12 No. of Responses 10 8 6 4 4 3 2 0 No Change Ease of Coordination Linkage Collection FIGURE 9 What would you change about your crash records system if you could start over? · No change--Four of the 23 respondents indicated that system, such as the location tool, electronic crash entry on they would not change anything about their crash rec- laptop computers in the car, electronic submission with inter- ords system. nal edits and sharing of common data. The remaining respon- · Easier data collection and access--More than half of the dent liked the cluster search program in Colorado that was respondents (12 of 23) specified that they would like to part of an FHWA research project. automate and streamline data collection procedures with electronic data collection and use of additional technol- SUMMARY ogy in the field (e.g., bar code scanning and GPS), user- friendly interfaces, personal computer-based relational Overall, the survey response was gratifying. The geographic databases, simpler ad hoc reporting, and/or Internet-based dispersion of the responses gives some measure of comfort in access. claiming that the results are representative of the United States. · Agency coordination--Three of the 23 respondents Unfortunately, some large states and some states that are indicated they would like to have better interagency known to be working on new crash records and traffic records coordination to ensure that all needs are being met or to systems did not respond to the survey. Where possible, the effect legal changes that would mandate standards for information on successful practices and initiatives to be pre- crash data collection. sented in the next chapter will be supplemented with informa- · Linkages to other data sources--More than half of the tion gathered on various crash systems and practices from respondents (13 of 23) mentioned that they would like other sources, such as periodic traffic records assessments. to include better linkages to other data components for both data entry and reporting. Nine of these specifically The survey results show that the data are more timely and would have included better linkage with location con- complete than might be expected--more than 80% of states trol data for both data entry and reporting. claim to have data entry completed within 90 days of a crash, and almost 85% of states claim to have all reportable crashes Question 12 was an open-ended question asking respon- coded into their systems. dents to indicate if they know of any good crash record sys- tems. Twelve states responded to this question. Half (6) Access to analytic results also appears to be satisfactory, believed their own state has a good crash record system. Two with more than 75% of states giving users the capability to of the respondents indicated they had looked at several sys- run ad hoc queries on their own. Not surprisingly, linkage of tems and had found only components of a good crash records the crash file to other sources of traffic records information system, and no completely good system(s). Six respondents is uneven. More than 75% of crash records systems link to named other states as having a good crash records system, roadway data, but this was more than double the percentage with four of these responses citing the Iowa TraCS system. of linkages reported to driver and vehicle data. Question 13 was an open-ended question asking respon- Most crash systems use more than one location coding dents to indicate what characteristics they like about the method, with traditional document-based and map-based crash systems that they had named in question 12. Ten states methods being the most prevalent. The ability of states to responded to this question and half (5) mentioned character- code locations of crashes is quite good, with almost 90% of istics of their own crash systems that they provided in their crashes located in the crash records system. The use of GPS answers to survey question 10. Four of the remaining five to locate crashes in the field or GIS maps to pinpoint a crash discussed characteristics that they like about the Iowa TraCS location is increasing.
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19 All of these capabilities cost money. For the half of the are linkage to other systems and easier data collection and respondents who gave us this information, the average cost access. Approximately one-quarter of the respondents men- to develop a system was just over $850,000. There were 10 sys- tioned their own crash records system as a model and only a tems that cost less than $1 million and 3 systems that cost handful mentioned other crash records systems as having all more than $1 million. The ongoing cost of having data in the the features they would like to have in their own. crash records system was addressed by 11 of the states and the cost per crash varied widely, from a high of almost $40 From the survey responses, there was no consensus among to a low of just over $1.50. It is likely that the wide variance practitioners about a crash records system that served all is the result of what steps of a crash records system process- aspects of a successful traffic records system. There are sys- ing were actually included in the costs cited. tems that, perhaps, efficiently capture all the needed data in a single area (e.g., crashes). However, that does not translate The most popular features of the current crash records sys- to the broader traffic records arena and the other systems tems were analysis and reporting, linkage, and data collection; needed to support users. As might be expected, the situation however, only analysis and reporting were cited by a major- is characterized best as a patchwork of data ranging from ity of the users. The most frequently requested improvements delayed and incomplete to timely and complete.