UConn research center sets new standard with crash data and analysis tool

By Mary Ebeling

Access to current and comprehensive crash data provides essential information for anyone seeking to improve the safety of road users. At the state and local level this type of data tool is not widely available to transportation safety engineers, law enforcement, local and regional planning organizations, and elected officials. In an effort to address this information gap, the Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center developed the Connecticut Crash Data Repository (CTCDR) to make crash data publicly accessible, accurate, and up-to-date for decision makers and the general public. Numerous states along the eastern seaboard have shown interest in replicating the tool, illustrating the need at many levels of government to better understand data to improve road safety.

Staff at the Connecticut Transportation Institute at the University of Connecticut (UConn) started development of the CTCDR in 2011 with the goal of providing accurate and up-to-date crash data. The CTCDR allows agencies to submit motor vehicle crash data electronically and upload it to the database for use by other agencies and the public.

Prior to the creation of the CTCDR, multiple agencies, including CTDOT and the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection maintained crash records in separate locations and databases. In addition, local police departments maintained separate data on local crashes. Further complicating crash analysis data was the fact that it was not linked to roadway information, traffic volumes, or land use data. The project team continues to work to gain access to additional data sources like information on past history of DUIs and speeding tickets.

Centralizing this data reduces duplication of efforts and provides users convenient access to the information. The system enables research into traffic safety in the state’s neighborhoods, towns, counties, or statewide. Incorporating the additional data mentioned above allows for more in-depth analysis and better visualizations.

UConn crash

Prior to the launch of this tool the only resource comparable to the CTCDR was at the federal level. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration manages the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), which provides a national accounting of annual fatalities from motor vehicle crashes. FARS only records fatal crashes involving a motor vehicle, leaving out bicycle and pedestrian crashes that do not involve a motor vehicle, as well as injury and property damage crashes. The CTCDR represents an improvement on the FARS system by including all reported crashes and allowing for the visualization and contextual analysis of crashes.

Mary Ebeling is a Transportation Policy Analyst at SSTI.