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State Highway Safety Showcase

Crash Data Analysis Project

Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning

The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) has announced a major initiative in crash data analysis which will involve the detailed review of hundreds of fatal and serious crash injury reports for clues to causation that might assist with future traffic safety planning efforts.

State of Michigan Crash Report Form

According to Michael Prince, OHSP Director, "while coded data is readily available from police crash reports, we need more information than the coded data provides to make precise decisions on the use of limited funding we have available." Prince went on to say, "there is a veritable treasure trove of information within the police crash report that is not coded. The only way you can see this information is to review the reports in detail, one at a time."

A similar initiative in Michigan in 2010 conducted a detailed review of motorcycle fatalities between 2006 and 2009. This review found that the primary operator errors were related to (1) negotiating curves, (2) turning, and; (3) proper braking. This information was incorporated into basic rider training programming and public information campaigns in an effort to get the word out to motorcyclists. According to Prince, "Without a detailed review of crash reports, we would not have this critical level of crash causation information, and as a result, would not have been able to incorporate the appropriate countermeasures into our planning and programming processes."

The Michigan SHSO is particularly interested in distracted driving fatalities and injuries. According to Director Prince, "While cell phone use and distractions are coded fields on the crash report, the type of distraction is not indicated. Driver distractions were coded as the driver condition in over 3,000 instances in 2009, but we have no way of knowing what type of distraction without this detailed review."

Among the other areas that this project will examine are crashes involving winter driving, pedestrians, bicycles, teens, and senior drivers.

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