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Increased patrols, street signage, traffic lights and roadway modifications are only part of the formula for driving down fatal crashes. A sophisticated data-driven strategy powered by advanced analytics helps agencies pinpoint exactly how, when and where to deploy these resources to deliver the biggest lifesaving impact within their community. 

Communities across the country are mobilizing toward a goal of zero traffic fatalities by the year 2050.1 This effort couldn’t be more timely. After more than a year of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, most states have reopened and settled into a more business-as-usual posture, which is bringing increased traffic. More traffic can bring more traffic-related incidents and, unfortunately, fatalities. Here, we’ll dive into this issue and explore a new approach that can help agencies drive closer toward the zero-fatality vision.

Stuck in “reactive mode”

Despite less traffic during 2020 due to widespread COVID-19 lockdowns, instances of driving violations classified as “major” were higher for the year. According to LexisNexis internal data, high-speed driving and hard-braking incidences were above expectations and normal levels during 2020. What’s worse, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic fatality rates at a 15-year high with an 18.4% increase during the first half of 2021, year-over-year.  This increase represents the highest half-year increase in the history of data recorded by the Fatality Analytics Reporting System (FARS).2,3

Law enforcement agencies play a critical role in saving lives on U.S. roadways. However, many lack the ability to quickly see when, where, and why traffic accidents are occurring, making it difficult to effectively address the situation. This lack of data can leave agencies stuck in reactive mode, limiting their ability to plan proactively for future traffic accidents and resulting in increased personnel hours as command staff often manually scour through pages of crash report data to produce reports.

Improving data sophistication is the future of traffic safety

A more proactive approach to traffic safety can be created through data sophistication as part of an advanced data and analytics program. Data sophistication is the process that applies a uniform, automated approach to unstructured, basic data collection to support real-time data integration, making it easier to apply those insights to real-world issues. It’s not a one-and-done quick fix; instead, it’s a best practice journey that involves the continuous adoption of increasingly advanced analytics and process automation, ultimately resulting in a turnkey, automated data-driven decisioning process.

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Agencies across the country are already leveraging varying degrees of data sophistication. For example, many are in the early stages of data sophistication and still using a paper-based approach to crash reporting. Others have an electronic process, but they’re not able to access dynamic crash analytics in real-time, or their process isn’t sophisticated enough to support data visualizations that highlight traffic safety issues.

However, agencies are steadily modernizing their data and analytic capabilities to help improve traffic safety and reduce fatalities using less money and fewer administrative resources. For example, data-fueled crash maps and dashboards can help law enforcement agencies link their command staff and traffic division to digitized crash reports, putting timely traffic insights at their fingertips for better decision making and resource allocation. Likewise, agencies can use analytic tools to build at-a-glance dashboard views of mission-critical crash statistics, including crash counts from several categories. No matter the need, a variety of user-friendly, feature-packed tools are available today to help agencies develop strategic traffic safety programs suited for the specific needs of their communities.

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These tools make it possible for agencies to easily pivot from being “stuck in reactive mode” to adopting a more proactive and preventive approach to traffic safety. Here’s a glimpse of what’s possible today through data sophistication and advanced data and analytics.

  • Access detailed insights in the form of data visualizations to better understand the root causes of accident and traffic trends, including factors like age, weather conditions, time of day, distracted driving and more.
  • Maintain transparent, positive relationships with the communities that agencies serve by providing targeted, near real-time data for neighborhood meetings, command staff reviews and media interviews.
  • Pinpoint where, when, and why accidents happen and intelligently deploy patrols based on peak or recurring activity, for better, more efficient use of resources and staffing.  

Regardless of how big or small an agency is or where they are in their crash data automation journey, now is the time to start moving toward optimized data sophistication including advanced analytics. It’s a big step toward improved traffic safety that is instrumental in getting communities across America closer to meeting the goal of zero fatalities by 2050.

Jason LaRue is the Assistant Vice President for LexisNexis Coplogic Solutions.

LexisNexis Coplogic Solutions can meet agencies at their current level of data sophistication and help take them where they want to be.  Visit www.risk.lexisnexis.com/TakeMeThere.

 

 

1 https://visionzeronetwork.org/roadtozero/

2 https://www.ghsa.org/about/news/GHSA/NHTSA-Pandemic-Traffic-Deaths21

3 https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/813199