April 29, 2014 | Spotlight

Department of Transportation Contracts with the Institute for Crash Location Project

Writer: Staff Reports

The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) recently contracted with the Institute of Government to complete an automobile crash location data project using GIS (Geographic Information Systems). The project will locate all Georgia crashes from 2009 to 2012 that had total damages exceeding $500.

The work performed by the Institute's Office of Information Technology Outreach Services (ITOS) will help ensure that the existing GDOT crash database known as GEARS, Georgia Electronic Accident Reporting System, contains complete and accurate crash data. Since crash reporting procedures differed from jurisdiction-to-jurisdiction and reporting requirements have evolved in recent years, the data available to GDOT through GEARS has not always been consistent.

ITOS staff will develop a customized geocoding tool in ArcGIS that will allow them to complete missing longitudinal and latitudinal data for each crash event as well as perform quality control on the existing data set for misattributions. ITOS staff will also use the previously developed GDOT mile point layer as the base map from which to locate crash events.

Inconsistencies in reporting standards and human error during data entry often result in incomplete databases. This project will help ensure that GDOT has sufficient historical and comprehensive geospatial data to perform cluster analysis. Being able to group and analyze crash variables such as pedestrian accidents, animal strikes, and tractor trailer incidents will facilitate proactive transportation planning and improves overall highway safety conditions.

The Institute's Lawton Brantley, GIS production coordinator, said, "At the completion of this project, GDOT will be able to analyze historical crash incidents with a high degree of confidence in spatial accuracy. This will foster better decision making and in the long run make Georgia's roads safer."

Initial estimates indicate that the project will require three to four years to complete and will result in more than 2.5 million crashes being located. A dedicated ITOS team, including 10 to 15 student interns, will help complete the mapping project. The team is only one month into the project, and mapping for four Georgia counties has already been completed.

Institute intern and engineering major Kathleen Schwartz was one of the first students assigned to the GDOT project. Schwartz said, "The analysis that we do on accidents through the crash reporting project is important and very rewarding. I know that the work I do will be used to help reduce the total number of automobile accidents and potentially save lives."