Database Helps Make Florida Roads Safer

A data collection tool known as Signal Four is helping law enforcement officials, as well as traffic engineers, planners, emergency medical providers and others pinpoint problem areas where accidents are more likely to occur. By identifying traffic accident patterns, officials can post signs, increase police patrols and provide training to drivers about situations that can lead to tragedy. The program, which was originally started as a pilot program between Florida Highway Patrol officers while in graduate school, has grown from a small, local affair to a statewide initiative.

A state traffic accident report can contain hundreds of pieces of information. In the past, identifying what areas were problematic from a safety standpoint involved either a tedious study of hundreds of documents or, more likely, the attention of officers who have noticed accidents occurring in a particular area or at a particular time. That system was certainly able to identify some problem areas, but presented only a partial picture of what was going on.

The database makes it a simple matter to get key information about any traffic accident. Where and when accidents occur is an important factor in preventing them. Training drivers, particularly young drivers, for situations that often lead to disaster is a vital component in transportation safety. A stretch of road may be misleading and hide oncoming danger. When accidents show up in the same areas at the same time of day over and over again, something clearly needs to be done.

While police may choose to step up enforcement and ticket heavily in an area, they can also use the database to create training programs and to give drivers warnings when a specific type of conduct poses a danger. More information is always better when it comes to making driving safe for everyone.

Source: Florida Today, “Data driving program tracks accidents for FHP,” by Dana Treen, 15 December 2012