Expanding Development of the Oregon Traffic Safety Data Archive: Phase 3

Christopher Monsere, Portland State University


As early as 1924, the need for safety-knowledge was recognized. At a national conference on street and highway safety it was reported that safety data “are so vital to any comprehensive understanding and treatment of the safety problem that their collection and analysis in every State and community are essential" (Griffith, 2003).  Many decades later, this simple statement has, in-fact, taken on increased significance. In the age of information, the challenge is now to make effective decisions based on a wealth of safety-related data. There is a growing recognition in the safety community that decisions are more effective if they are knowledge-based. Traffic records such as driver files, crash data, enforcement, highway traffic and geometric information, court records, and emergency medical records are the typical data needed to make effective safety-related decisions. Often these data are in various formats, maintained by distinct agencies, and require specialized knowledge to use and link together to achieve maximum use of the data. In their comprehensive review of the U.S. crash records systems, Delucia and Scoptaz (2005) made a number of recommendations for a successful, useful, robust traffic records system. One of those recommendations was that development of a “knowledge base” of traffic records information is imperative to fully extract the expense of creating the individual data systems. They stressed, quite correctly, that while the benefits of integrating various data sources are substantial, the challenges and institutional limitations have prevented many states from vigorously pursuing this fruitful path.  While nearly all traffic safety data in Oregon is available on request from various agencies (Oregon Department of Transportation, Oregon Justice Department, U.S. Department of Transportation, Human Services Department) there is no clearinghouse where other interested researchers, students and professionals can easily access the data in a processed, consistent and useable form. Linking data sources on an ad-hoc basis is time consuming and inefficient. 

Overall, this proposed research continues to build on an existing OTREC project. This research proposes to systematically develop a knowledge-based clearinghouse of safety-related data in Oregon. This archive, the Oregon Traffic Safety Data Archive (OrTSDA), will serve as a comprehensive source of safety data. While we have categorized the proposal as “technology transfer” it really is a hybrid effort between research, knowledge transfer, and education. The first phase of this research developed the basic computing platform for the safety data archive (relational database, simple web shell) which was funded for $20K. The second phase of this is in the project, expected to be complete in October 2009, will have added additional data (enforcement, traffic), additional user-interface tools (web dashboards, a Google maps interface, a download tool) as well as a survey of potential users. The second phase was funded at $36K. In Phase III, we are proposing two main focus areas: 
•	enhancement of the mapping capabilities for analysis, interaction and selection of data; and 
•	exploratory development of open-source data visualization package or tools on the R software platform.
Preliminary presentations of this work have sparked interest from Oregon DOT, Metro, and others in the safety community. When fully implemented, the archive will provide significant benefits to decision-makers, researchers, practitioners, and interested citizens.

Project Details

Project Type:
Technology Transfer
Project Status:
In Progress
End Date:
September 30,2012
UTC Grant Cycle:
OTREC 2010
UTC Funding: