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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-06-099
Date: September 2006

Traffic Safety Information Systems International Scan: Strategy Implementation White Paper

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U.S. Department of Transportation

Federal Highway Administration

Research, Development, and Technology

Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center

6300 Georgetown Pike

McLean, VA 22101-2296

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In October 2003, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) sponsored an international scanning study to visit and learn from the Netherlands, Germany, and Australia. The scanning study's objective was to understand how these countries built and used traffic safety information systems and to learn what brought success at reducing the level of harm on their roadways. The goals of this white paper are to build on that study's final report and the implementation plan developed by the scanning team; and to support critical strategies with action-related details as well as to add new strategies toward the team's goals. Furthermore, this white paper discusses the critical element of access to complete, accurate, and timely data.

It is our hope that this effort will expand the national discussion of improving safety data. Additionally, we hope that some of the suggested solutions, once implemented, and the resulting improvements in data, will lead to decisions that will help solve one of the largest public health problems faced by the United States—highway crashes.

Mike Trentacoste, Director

Office of Safety Research and Development


This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in this document.

The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers' names appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document.

Quality Assurance Statement

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides high-quality information to serve Government, industry, and the public in a manner that promotes public understanding. Standards and policies are used to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of its information. FHWA periodically reviews quality issues and adjusts its programs and processes to ensure continuous quality improvement.

Technical Report Documentation Page

1. Report No.

2. Government Accession No.

3. Recipient's Catalog No.

4. Title and Subtitle
Traffic Safety Information Systems International Scan: Strategy Implementation White Paper

5. Report Date
September 2006

6. Performing Organization Code:

7. Author(s):
Forrest M. Council and David L. Harkey

8. Performing Organization Report No.

9. Performing Organization Name and Address
BMI-SG, a VHB Company
8300 Boone Blvd., Suite 700
Vienna, VA 22182-2624

The University of North Carolina
Highway Safety Research Center
730 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3430

10. Work Unit No.

11. Contract or Grant No.

12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address
Federal Highway Administration
Office of Safety Research and Development
6300 Georgetown Pike
McLean, VA 22101-2296

13. Type of Report and Period Covered
White Paper, September 2004 – November 2006

14. Sponsoring Agency Code

15. Supplementary Notes
Contracting Officer's Technical Representative (COTR): Carol Tan

16. Abstract
Safety data provide the key to making sound decisions on the design and operation of roadways, but deficiencies in many States' safety databases do not allow for good decisionmaking. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) sponsored a scanning study of how agencies in the Netherlands, Germany, and Australia develop and use traffic safety information systems. That scan produced a report that included recommendations for advancing safety themes in the areas of strategy, efficiency, and utility. This current report is the result of a follow-on effort to build on the scan team's final report and draft implementation plan by reviewing in detail the strategies suggested, providing action-related details to some of the critical strategies, and adding new strategies to help reach the team's goals. Although strategies related to both crash data and other safety data such as roadway inventory and traffic volumes are included in this paper, more emphasis is placed on the latter because more effort has traditionally been spent on improving crash data. The five critical strategies detailed here include: (1) increase support for both safety programs and safety information systems from top-level administrators in State and local transportation agencies; (2) improve safety data by defining good inventory data and institutionalizing continual improvement toward established performance measures; (3) improve safety data by making it easier to collect, store, and use; (4) improve safety data by increasing the use of critical safety analysis tools, which themselves require good data; and (5) improve and protect safety data by storage and linkage with critical nonsafety data. Discussion and action items are presented for each strategy, along with recommendations concerning which government agency potentially could be responsible for implementing the recommendation and a priority ranking of the proposed recommendations based on input from a review panel.

17. Key Words
safety data, traffic safety information systems, road inventory data, crash data, data collection, data storage, safety analysis tools

18. Distribution Statement
No restrictions. This document is available to the public through the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA 22161.

19. Security Classif. (of this report)

20. Security Classif. (of this page)

21. No. of Pages

22. Price

From DOT F 1700.7 (8-72) Reproduction completed page authorized (art. 5/94)

Form DOT F 1700.7 (8-72) Reproduction of completed page authorized

SI* (Modern Metric) Conversion Factors




AAA - American Automobile Association

AADTs - annual average daily traffic flows

AASHTO - Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials

ADT - average daily traffic

ATSIP - Association of Traffic Safety Information Professionals

DHM - Digital Highway Measurement

DOT - department of transportation

EuroNCAP - European New Car Assessment Program

EuroRAP - European Road Assessment Program

FARS - Fatality Analysis Reporting System

FHWA - Federal Highway Administration

FMCSA - Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

GIS - Geographic Information System

GPS - global positioning system

HPMS - Highway Performance Monitoring System

HSIS - Highway Safety Information System

HSM - Highway Safety Manual

IACP - International Association of Chiefs of Police

IHSDM - Interactive Highway Safety Design Model

ITE - Institute of Transportation Engineers

MMIRE - Model Minimum Inventory of Roadway Elements

MMUCC - Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria

MPO - metropolitan planning organization

NCHRP - National Cooperative Highway Research Program

NHTSA - National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

SAFETEA-LU - Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users

SPR - State planning and research

STRCC - State Traffic Records Coordinating Committee

TraCs - Traffic and Criminal Software

TRB - Transportation Research Board

TSIMS - Transportation Safety Information Management System

TSSMU - Traffic Safety Systems Management Unit

USRAP - United States Road Assessment Program

XML - eXtensible Markup Language


Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000
Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center | 6300 Georgetown Pike | McLean, VA | 22101