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Research Projects (1999-00)

Identifying Number


Project Title

Accident Data Availability


University of Utah

Project Investigator

Peter Martin
University of Utah

External Project Contact


Project Objective

The goal of this research is to develop an accident database-GIS interface that allows for wider dissemination of the information. Legal issues often arise from accident information requests and may be why UDOT has been reluctant in the past to make the accident information so readily available. These issues will be explored to determine a department-wide policy on accident data access. In addition, the support of the accident database is based on providing timely and accurate accident information input in the proper format. An accident data collection methodology will be developed which includes an electronic data input template, GPS and recommended practices. The research effort will be completed by fulfilling the following objectives:

  • Identify issues related to accident data access that should be identified before a department-wide policy for dissemination of accident data.
  • Address requirements for getting hardware into all patrol cars in all jurisdictions in the state (laptops for data entry, GPS).
  • Provide an accident data delivery system. GIS format, mainframe interface, third-party applications, etc.

Project Abstract

Accident information is valuable for identifying problem areas or locations of interest. This is true not only to the Traffic and Safety section. UDOT is comprised of many departments that would benefit from access to accident information. Not only is the data not readily available, its current format is one summary spreadsheet format utilizing codes and mileposts to denote location, type and severity of accidents. With little graphical interface, the usefulness of the accident information by most not familiar with the codes is questionable. This proposal promotes the integration of the accident database with a GIS format to allow a graphical and spatial interface. The issues being addressed by this research focus on information circulation.

Two specific issues have been identified as key elements in the research:

  • Making accident information more readily available.
  • Incorporating a GIS graphical interface with the accident information to allow for query searches on various accident attributes.

Task Descriptions

Accident reports are still often taken by hand and then transferred into electronic form. The difficulty in this method is it is time consuming and prone to error when transferring data. It also provides for a "paperwork delay" which means that the most recent accident database information is often not available for several months. By developing an electronic template that is acceptable by all enforcement agencies, the entry of information into the accident database can be timely and if one format is utilized, then the information from several different agencies can be cross referenced into the UDOT or County or City databases. This electronic standardized format will have the advantage of streamlining the accident data entry process.

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) allows database information to be displayed spatially through graphical interface. This enhances access to the information, particularly when consideration is given to the ability to query the information based on a range of variables. The linking of the accident database to a GIS interface will allow improved access and use of the accident information. In addition, the development of the electronic accident form will allow for easy updating of the accident database. These improvements to the accessibility and modification of data entry will be fulfilled by the following tasks:

  • Link accident data to GIS (current record data).
  • Set procedure for future entries into GIS.
  • Standardize the accident reports to streamline data entry.

The initial project work will be to develop these general tasks into specific subtasks that outline the research effort and identify clear timelines and milestones in completing the research.

The following deliverables will be provided based on the research findings:

  • Detailed Scope of Work (work plan, contracting plan, schedule, budget)
  • A tool to access accident data available throughout UDOT which should be readily accessible to key users along with policy for access of database. This might include access utilizing GIS interface, off-the-shelf applications, UDOT mainframe application, etc.
  • A final report documenting the recommendations, including recommendations on appropriate hardware combination to satisfy project goals.

The intent of this research is to provide the regional offices, planning, traffic and safety, designers, etc. access to current accident information to assist in their decision-making.

Milestones, Dates

  • Starting Date: July 1, 1999
  • Project Milestones:
  • Interim Report: March 1, 2000
  • Draft Research Report: May 1, 2000
  • Final Research Report June 1, 2000
  • Ending Date: June 30, 2000

Yearly and Total Budget

USDOT $35,000
University $62,647
TOTAL $97,647

Student Involvement

Two graduate students and 1 graduate thesis.

Relationship to Other Research Projects


Technology Transfer Activities

Workshop for Utah Department of Transportation and Police Personnel.

Potential Benefits of the Project

The intent of this research is to provide the regional offices, planning, traffic and safety, designers, etc., access to current accident information to assist in their decision-making.

TRB Keywords

Accident investigation, accident records, accident reconstruction

NDSU Dept 2880P.O. Box 6050Fargo, ND 58108-6050