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188 C H A P T E R 9 Focus Group Introduction This chapter describes the process of organizing and implementing two focus group meetings to solicit feedback on the Practitioner Guide from representative members of the target audience. The target audience includes transportation professionals with or without prior experience in access management and highway safety (e.g., planners, designers, and traffic engineers). The following two committees of the TRB were targeted to identify representative members of the target audience to serve on the focus group: 1. ACP60: Access Management (formerly AHB70), and 2. ACS20: Safety Performance Analysis (formerly ANB25). The focus group consisted of 40 individuals, which included members of the NCHRP Panel and members and friends of the two TRB committees. Of the 40 individuals, 12 represented State DOTs, 3 represented local or other public agencies, 3 represented FHWA, 9 represented universities, and 13 represented consultants. Approximately half of the focus group members represented access management professionals and half represented highway safety professionals. Table 120 provides a list of the 31 focus group members by agency affiliation that were not Panel members for this project. Table 120. Focus group members were affiliated with the following organizations (in addition to the 17-74 Panel). Affiliation North Carolina DOT New Hampshire DOT DKS Ohio DOT University of South Florida Advanced Transportation Solutions Jacobs Michigan Tech University ITRE Philip B Demosthenes, LLC Texas Transportation Institute WSP Virginia DOT Robert Hull Transportation Safety LLC North Carolina DOT E.L. Robinson Engineering Massachusetts DOT Virginia Tech Transportation Institute
189 Affiliation Federal Highway Administration Wisconsin DOT Dallas Fort-Worth Airport RKK Burgess and Niple Maricopa Association of Governments Federal Highway Administration HDR Kentucky Transportation Cabinet University of South Florida Auburn University GY Associates (formerly New Jersey DOT) Auburn University There were two presentations delivered at the 2020 TRB Annual Meeting, one to each of the two targeted committees. These presentations provided a background on the project objectives and results as well as the outline and content of the practitioner guide. Following the TRB Annual Meeting, there were two focus group meetings as described in the following sections. Focus Group Meetings March Focus Group Meeting The first focus group meeting was held on March 6, 2020. The meeting discussed the focus of the practitioner guide and provided an overview of the layout and content of the guide. While reviewing the guide, the project team presented five questions to the focus group for feedback. The questions included: ï· Question 1: Is there a need for a technical brief to summarize salient points of the guide? If so, what content is most important to you? ï· Question 2: Should Chapter 2 remain in the body of the guide or would it be more appropriate in an appendix? ï· Question 3: Is Figure 10 useful in providing background on observed crashes or is this common knowledge? ï· Question 4: Is there a need for additional guidance on how to select and appropriate CMF? ï· Question 5: CMF is relatively large but so is the confidence interval (CMF = 2.12 and St. Err. = 0.91). How do you feel about including such results in the guide? Should we denote with similar cautions provided in the HSM (observed variability suggests that this strategy could result in an increase, decrease, or no change in crashes)? Following the meeting, focus group members had three weeks to review the guide and provide responses to the focus group questions as well as additional feedback on the guide. April Focus Group Meeting The second focus group meeting was held on April 20, 2020. Nineteen focus group members attended. The meeting provided an overview of the comments received following the first focus group meeting as summarized below.
190 Question 1: Need for a Technical Brief Overall, the focus group members felt that there was not a need for a technical brief as the information is already known to the reviewers. Instead of creating a technical brief, one focus group member suggested the project team develop a one-page infographic explaining this reason and how to use it. While the majority of the focus group supports not developing a technical brief, one member shared that the technical brief could be useful for practitioners, following a similar outline as the guide. Another member cautioned that practitioners might look to the technical brief for answers to a question and miss important details that are contained in the full guide. The resolution was to develop an extended executive summary to serve as a pseudo technical brief. The reason for the executive summary was to keep everything in one document while helping readers to understand the key information in just a few pages. Technical audiences would still need to review the relevant chapters of the guide to find details. Question 2: Placement of Chapter 2 The majority of focus group members voted to move chapter 2 to the Appendix as it helps keep the focus on the main topics in the report. A focus group member suggested the project team could replace chapter 2 with a definitions page of technical terms and reference the appendix and other resources as appropriate. There was some support to keep chapter 2 in the body of the guide because the information is important to the target audience. The resolution was to move the chapter 2 content to the appendix and replace it with a brief section of definitions. Question 3: Value of Figure 10 The members of the focus group did not come to a consensus regarding the value of Figure 10. Some members indicated the figure should not be included as the reviewers already know this information, while others believe the image should be included as it is important information for the target audience. The resolution was to keep the figure in the guide but move it to the appendix with the other chapter 2 content. Question 4: Need for Additional Guidance on CMF Selection The focus group supported including additional guidance for how to select an appropriate CMF. The selection process is an important component to properly assess safety performance, which is why the members felt this information should be included in the appendix. The resolution was to add a section on âSelecting CMFsâ as part of the chapter 2 content, which is included in the appendix. Question 5: Including CMF Results that are Not Statistically Significant The focus group was divided in support for and against including the CMF results with a large confidence interval. Members that supported including the CMF results noted the results were a good educational point and the project team could denote the results with similar cautions provided in the HSM. The members that voted not to include the CMF results believed the results may introduce unnecessary confusion for the reader. If the project team included the CMF results, they would need to add language that explained the term not statistically significant when the CMF is introduced. The resolution was to keep the CMF results in the guide with proper notations and cautions.
191 Other Comments Members of the focus group provided additional comments beyond the five focus group questions. The focus group discussed several terms included in the guide: CMF star-rating and inclusion process, CMF scoring, and calibration of SPFs. The focus group expressed interest in providing some discussion of these items in the appendix. Another topic of discussion was the functional classification of roads and how it relates to access management. Specifically, different functional classifications should have different levels of access and mobility. Members noted that agencies use different definitions of functional classifications such as those included in the Highway Functional Classification Concepts, Criteria, and Procedures (USDOT 2013). Related to this discussion, the focus group discussed the term access point. The group supported using this term, however, they agreed that the project team should provide additional context when the term is used in the guide. Finally, the focus group provided consistent thoughts on the opportunity to expand the discussion in chapter 6, Communicating Results. One suggestion was to expand chapter 6 to include more of a communications perspective. Members suggested resources to support this expansion. In summary, the project team revised the Practitioner Guide to reflect the comments and requests of the focus group. This effort resulted in a more concise presentation of results, more detailed explanation of specific topics of interest, and hopefully a more useful guide for practitioners. Chapter 9 References USDOT. 2013. Highway Functional Classification Concepts, Criteria, and Procedures. Report FHWA-PL-13-026, Federal Highway Administration, Washington, DC.