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OCR for page 90
90 SECTION XII Data Improvements and What They Can Do for You In this section, the case is made for improving the timeli- In Section I of this guide, a three-step process is presented ness, accuracy, completeness, and accessibility of traffic for data-driven highway and traffic safety decision-making. records information. In general, more reliable data means The usefulness of data for defining opportunities applies to that users can make better quality decisions they can be those same three stages: more certain of the facts and of achieving the desired out- come from any action. 1. Define/choose issue(s)/emphasis areas. Throughout this guide, a data-driven, decision-making 2. Set a crash, injury or death reduction goal for that issue. approach has been described as the most effective way to 3. Define the series of treatments and the target subpopula- identify and address highway and traffic safety problems. tion (drivers, highway corridors, intersections, etc.) for The method is aimed at identifying opportunities to im- each treatment that will be required to meet your goal. prove traffic safety, where an opportunity is defined as something that is a real problem that there is a real way to Section II of this document presents the various data types address. Using data helps define opportunities in three im- that are used in highway and traffic safety decision making. It portant ways: also presents the problems associated with each of the data types, including poor timeliness, accuracy, completeness, and By describing a problem numerically, we know how large accessibility. The implications of these problems for data- it is relative to other highway traffic safety problems we driven decision making are numerous, and yet each section may be facing: ideally, we will know when and under what of this guide includes the advice that poor data or missing conditions the problem occurs and the risk posed by the data are not excuses for ignoring the data altogether when problem for specific portions of the public. In many ways, making decisions. This final section goes further by present- numerically describing the problem in detail will often sug- ing a list of options for what to do to improve the data, and gest the appropriate solutions. why improving the data is important. By numerically evaluating countermeasures, we know Advice on what can be done will be drawn from two which ones work, to what extent and under what condi- primary sources and from other supplemental sources: tions, and at what cost. This provides the decision maker DeLucia and Scopatz. NCHRP Synthesis 350: Crash Records with a proven set of tools to use in situations where the data Systems. NCHRP Project 20-5, Synthesis Topic 35-03 (29). show there is a problem. Together, proven countermea- Council and Harkey. Traffic Safety Information Systems In- sures along with well-described problems give the decision ternational Scan: Strategy Implementation White Paper (30). maker a more complete idea of where the opportunities lie to improve highway and traffic safety. The advice is divided into sections that relate to the organi- Knowing the problem and the effectiveness of available zational structure responsible for planning traffic records im- countermeasures, a decision maker also knows what to ex- provements and the practical data improvement strategies pect either if nothing is done or if various countermeasures that can be considered when developing a plan of action. are applied. Setting numeric targets for each problem area allows decision makers to understand if the target is Organizational Issues achievable given the size of the problem and the counter- measures available. It also helps to ensure that realistic tar- In Section II (and elsewhere), the point has been made that gets are established in the first place. ownership (custodial responsibility) of files that make up a