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									                                       An Applied Data Quality Analysis for Traffic Crash Location Information
                                                                                               Deanna A. Peabody
                                                                                           Michael A. Knodler Jr. Ph.D.
                                                                           College of Engineering University of Massachusetts Amherst

      In an effort to reduce the frequency and severity of motor vehicle crashes, it is                                                                     Research Objective
imperative that high crash locations are accurately identified. This project serves as                                           Since transportation safety professionals use the data collected on crash
an in depth analysis for a sample of crash reports that were not successfully geo-                                          reports to improve traffic safety, it is crucial that officers, serving as the front
located. Specifically this research will include both a quantitatively and qualitatively                                    lines of data collection, fill out the form accurately and in sufficient detail at the
review of crash reports to: 1) characterize why reports are not geo-located, 2)                                             scene of every crash. By analyzing a sample of 2005 non geo-located
attempt to locate these crashes using additional methods, 3) categorize common                                              reports, this research aims to identify inconsistencies and data shortcomings
problems that led to locating these crashes originally, and 4) provide                                                      with crash report data, which in turn will lead to improved data quality for traffic
recommendations for changes to the crash data collection process to increase the                                            crash location information.
percentage of crashes that are successfully located. Initial results indicate that many
reports do not provide sufficient information in the various location fields on a crash
report form. For example, one common error includes the recording of a roadway
name with no other indication of the specific crash location. An additional element                                                                Crash Report Location Information
being investigated with this research effort is the extent to which the crash narrative
and diagram can be employed to help locate the crash location. The identification of
specific reasons for non geo-located crashes are being determined, which in turn will
translate into improved data quality for traffic crash location information. Possible
outcomes include changes to the crash report form, new training for police
completing the form and for CDS data entry staff at the Registry of Motor Vehicles,
and new technologies to scan information at the crash scene, electronically
submitting the crash data to the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

                              Progress and Results
     A concern that has become apparent with crash data quality in Massachusetts
is poor location information. Since information sometimes varies or is vague, about
25% of crashes cannot be successfully geo-located, making the exact location of
these crashes unknown. One hundred non-geolocated crashes were reviewed to
identify trends as to why the exact location could not be pinpointed.

              SECTION OF THE CRASH REPORT FORM                                         AND/OR DIAGRAM

                   NO                                                            NO
                  48%                      YES                                  47%                      YES
                                           52%                                                           53%

                      CRASH REPORT IS VALID

                                           YES                                  43%
                    NO                                                                                    57%

                                                                                                                                  Although the information in the location section of the crash report form is
                                                                                                                            valid and in the right section, there is not enough information to locate exactly
                                                                                                                            where the crash occurred. The narrative and diagram does, however, provide
        Results show that 48% of non-geolocated crash reports simply do not                                                 additional information on the location of the crash by including a landmark. By
 provided enough information. With some frequency (53%), additional information is                                          searching google earth, the address of DeSantis Garage was found and the
 presented in the narrative and diagram of the crash report; however, this                                                  location of the crash was pinpointed. See the map below.
 information is not entered into the Crash Data System. Of the reports that
 contained additional information in the narrative and/or diagram, 34% were still not
 be located, 45% were found using this additional information, and 21% could be
 found without the information. 56% of the crash reports contained invalid, but
 generally the information was still understandable and clear. Although 57% of
 these locations were found using google maps, it is significant that these locations
 cannot currently be systematically geo-located by MassHighway in order to
 determine specific locations having a high number of crashes and what controls
 and safety devices already exist there, so that additional improvements can be
                                    Future Work
        MassHighway uses crash data to better understand all elements of traffic
 crashes. In addition to poor location information other issues include a high rate of
 missing injury severity data, poor data quality for engineering related fields, and data
 entry errors. To enhance crash data quality in Massachusetts, MassSAFE is
 conducting an audit of a randomly selected sample of 2005 police crash reports to
 identify which fields are being completed incorrectly and result in poor data. A panel
 of experts on crash data including representatives from state police, local police,
 and the Registry of Motor Vehicles will perform a manual review of each crash
 report. The final report will serve as a basis for understanding data quality issues in

                                                   This work is supported in part by the National Science Foundation under NSF award number 0552548.

                                                   Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the
                                                   National Science Foundation.

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