Good data is essential in planning effective highway safety programs. Traffic crash and fatality data is collected and maintained at the local, state and national levels in a variety of databases.
At the national level, the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)
is a nationwide census providing NHTSA, Congress and the American public yearly data regarding fatal injuries suffered in motor vehicle traffic crashes across the United States. In addition, the National Emergency Medical Services Information System (NEMSIS) is a national repository used to store EMS data from every state in the nation.
States maintain their own highway safety data as well. And many states have a Traffic Records Coordinating Committee (TRCC) that includes managers, collectors and users of traffic records, public health and injury control data. States are working to standardize and link their data systems.
SAFETEA-LU, the current federal highway bill, established the Section 408 State Traffic Safety Information System Improvement Grants program to encourage states to improve the timeliness, accuracy, completeness, uniformity, integration and accessibility of their state safety information; encourage linkage of data systems; and improve the compatibility of state and national data.
GHSA and its member State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs) are involved in many traffic records efforts. GHSA serves as a liaison to the the Association of Transportation Safety Information Professionals, a professional association that works to further the development and sharing of traffic records system procedures, tools, and professionalism.
The Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria (MMUCC) is a minimum, standardized data set for describing motor vehicle crashes and the vehicles, persons and environment involved.
By providing a "minimum" set of data elements, MMUCC helps states collect reliable crash data, effectively guide enforcement planning, and shape sound traffic safety policy. This data set, originally published in 1998, has been revised three times, most recently in the 4th Edition (2012), in response to emerging highway safety issues. GHSA has helped manage these update with funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Excerpted from GHSA's Highway Safety Policies & Priorities [115 KB, 27 pgs.]
L. Traffic Records
L.1 Uniform Data Collection and Reporting
States rely heavily on traffic records in order to identify highway safety problems, select program
alternatives and evaluate the effectiveness of safety programs. GHSA believes that accurate
federal and state data collection, reporting, analysis and linkage are critical to the success of
highway safety programs and also provide the basis for program evaluation and cost-benefit
Crash data standardization is needed to measure progress in highway safety across the nation.
GHSA encourages state and local jurisdictions to implement the uniform crash data elements of
the Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria (MMUCC). States are also encouraged to collect the
uniform data elements of the National EMS Information System (NEMSIS).
GHSA also supports the development of integrated state traffic records systems with linkage
between databases such as MMUCC, NEMSIS, driver, vehicle, roadway, citation and
adjudication and other injury databases.
L.2 DUI Information Systems
GHSA supports states’ efforts to create and implement DUI information systems for the purpose
of tracking offenders from arrest through imposition and completion of administrative or judicial
sanction, identifying the problems associated with impaired driving and effectively evaluating
countermeasures. NHTSA has developed guidelines for a model state DUI information system.
GHSA supports the model guidelines and urges the federal government to provide adequate
funding for implementation of state automated DUI information systems that are consistent with
the model guidelines to the maximum extent practicable. Additionally, NHTSA should provide the
necessary leadership to promote DUI information systems, convey their importance to states,
collaborate with other federal agencies to link DUI-related databases, provide technical
assistance and promote best practices.
L.3 DUI Records Retention
In order to identify repeat offenders, it is important to retain drunk driving records for a long time
and allow for long “look back” periods. States are urged to retain drunk driving records to allow at
least a 10-year look back period.
L.4 Driver Records
GHSA supports the concept of one driver, one driver’s license record. GHSA supports the
development of an electronic system for the collection of driver licensing and driver history
information since such a system will facilitate the exchange of driver licensing and history
information between states. However, the development and implementation of such a national
system will be extremely costly. Hence, the federal government should provide adequate funding
to states so that they can develop an appropriate electronic system that meets both federal
requirements and state needs.