Reducing Traffic Fatalities in Urban and Rural Areas: Notes from NIJ’s LEADS Program

Reducing Traffic Fatalities in Urban and Rural Areas: Notes from NIJ's LEADS Program
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Resources
Recorded on: 2019-08-01
Unit 1Slide Deck: Reducing Traffic Fatalities in Urban and Rural Areas
Unit 2Workbook: Reducing Traffic Fatalities in Urban and Rural Areas
Unit 3Recording: Reducing Traffic Fatalities in Urban and Rural Areas

When people refer to car crashes as accidents, it gives a tone that there isn’t much anyone can do to prevent it. But through evidence-based policing, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department and Iowa State Patrol was able to curb fatal car crashes through proactive strategies that aims to change citizen behavior.

Two LEADS scholars decided to address traffic fatalities in their respective jurisdictions and share their experience with it. Sergeant James Williams is currently a Supervisor in the Traffic Section of the Metro Nashville PD where he investigates life-threatening injuries and fatalities and analyzes crash and arrest data to develop intervention strategies. Meanwhile Captain Ken Clary of the Iowa State Patrol is an Area Commander overseeing four patrol districts and led their agency’s effort to address fatal crashes.

Points discussed on this session are:

  • A brief background of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Law Enforcement Advancing Data and Science (LEADS) program.
  • The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department’s plan
    • An overview of the origin of the initiative that looked into statistics of crashes, injury, property damage, and time spent by officers responding to crashes.
    • The first steps taken to identify the intersections and road segment hotspots where crashes were most rampant.
    • The data collection and analysis conducted with the help of Tennessee’s Department of Safety to come up with frequencies, temporal analysis, and the contributing factors to crashes.
    • The program model they employed based on the Koper Curve Hypothesis which proposes that police visibility could result in reduction of crime and disorder.
    • The methodology of the High Visibility Enforcement (HVE) plan where officers were assigned roadway segments to patrol in specific time of the day and day of the week.
    • The outcomes that saw an average of 30% reduction in crashes in hotspots.
    • Tweaks made to the original plan in terms of dosage and the expansion to more hotspots.
    • Lessons learned, areas to improve on, and the most critical component for program success.
    • Steps they’re taking to improve the initiative further through data analysis, enforcement and further trials.
  • The Iowa State Patrol’s strategy
    • The statistics that articulated a huge problem in Iowa and across the US and a desire to improve what is within one’s purview.
    • The methodology employed which integrated concepts of Hotspot Policing, Koper Curve, and Community Policing.
    • The reality that most crashes that resulted in serious injury and fatality are results of human behavior that can be changed.
    • The 10 years’ worth of data collected to be able to deduce the causes of crashes and produce a heatmap of crash incidents.
    • The specifics of the initiative – the team, the assignment, and the concept of ‘touches’ which is expected to lead to the goal of changing human behavior.
    • The results of the first year of the program that saw immediate citizen feedback of increased law enforcement presence, decline of alcohol sales, and increase of seatbelt compliance.
    • Initiatives on the second year of the program that works toward a more sustainable model and next steps to measure the optimal dosage to get the desired result.
  • During the Q&A, Ken, James and Gary clarified points on:
    • Qualifications to be a part of the LEADS program.
    • When final findings of the Iowa study will be released.
    • The changes observed within 12 weeks from the hotspots in the Nashville study.
    • Determining the baseline of the data.
    • Replicating the studies for other agencies.
    • Securing peer and leadership buy-in.
    • Sources of the raw data collated and analyzed for the study.
    • Starting a public education campaign based on the goals and findings of the initiatives.


Audience Comments:

  • “Wow! NIJ LEADS program is very newsworthy. All States need to have such extraordinary programs. Very enlightening discussion with both speakers, Ken and James. Very interesting that rural (IOWA) and metro areas(( Metro Nashville, TN) have the same dilemmas. Most shocking is that 6% of the drivers cause 46% of the fatalities in Iowa (seatbelts are NOT being used by these 6%). Amazing stats!” — Pamela
  • “I really liked Captain Clary’s evaluation method is “success is not measured in citations or arrests but through crash reduction”. Great measurement!” — Alyssa
  • “It’s always great to hear what other parts of the country are experiencing and how they may deal with the situations that are similar in my own jurisdiction. It gives the opportunity to strategize about best practices and what we can do to develop our own traffic safety programs.” — Jeffrey
  • “This is an important topic and although we have data-driven analysis in place for our traffic enforcement, there were points brought up in the webinar that we had not considered.” — Ken
  • “I have been a municipal Officer (’76-’77), but I’m a retired Trooper (’77-’10 & last 4 1/2 served as Colonel), so I am very familiar with DDACTS! This was a refresher for me as a Chief (since Aug ’11), and I would love to have some of our folks here see various webinars!!! 69 budgeted Sworn, but especially 3 Patrol Lieutenants and 6 Patrol Sergeants!!! These folks today did an excellent job of taking the material of the “concept” and relating it to actual usage results!!!” — Mike
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