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USDOT Launches Safety Data Initiative

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by Aaron Mack in Uncategorized
January 11, 2018

This month, the US Department of Transportation launched an initiative that will harness the power of “big data” to revolutionize the field of transportation safety research.

“Advances in data science have the potential to transform the Department’s approach to safety research and provide insights that can help improve highway safety,” said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

The Department announced the initiative on January 8 at the annual conference of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies.

Two pilot projects will accompany the new initiative. In the first pilot, data on known crashes and highway design will be paired with data collected by GPS-enabled devices; these devices can convey information on prevailing speeds of the entire National Highway System at five-minute intervals. This will enable the Department to examine the impact of speed on highway crashes at a level of previously unimaginable detail and scope.

The second pilot will see traffic data combined with data collected from the crowdsourcing smartphone application Waze. The Department will examine the possibility of using this crowdsourced data as a fast, reliable method of detecting reportable traffic crashes. It will also examine whether the data—which is generated by travelers who use the app to report roadway hazards, like stalled vehicles and collisions in real time—can be used to predict when and why crashes may occur.

Moreover, the initiative will leverage advances in the way data is analyzed to lead to more robust safety research methodologies and results.

“There are tons of new tools that help visualize data in a way that makes analysis more intuitive, that highlights trends that are sometimes less recognized when you have long tables,” said Derek Kan, USDOT’s Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy. “Recent innovations in data science provide us with the opportunity to do so much more.”

(quotes courtesy of Transport Topics)

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