f you want safer roads, you have to have accurate and effective accident reporting. That’s why traffic safety experts and researchers — but especially Texas law enforcement officers — are cheering a proposed new accident-reporting form.
The new form was the result of a collaboration between TTI and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) designed to make crash scene reporting easier and more accurate.
“Because traffic statistics determine so many things related to safer roads — how safety dollars are spent and what transportation research is conducted — accurate accident reporting is critical,” explains Troy Walden, an associate research scientist in TTI’s Center for Transportation Safety (CTS). “We think the new form could have an important impact on safety and we are especially pleased that it meets the needs of TxDOT.”
Walden says that many law enforcement officers across the state were experiencing frustration with the accident-reporting form that went into effect in January of 2010.
“So, in July, TxDOT challenged us to come up with a new user-friendly version that would satisfy the needs for data collection by law enforcement in the field, but also conforms to the data entry requirements needed for proper coding into the Crash Records Information System [CRIS].”
Walden and Senior Research Specialist Bob Gilbert, both former law enforcement officers, conducted numerous forums and surveys with agencies across the state in order to gain feedback concerning the usability of the previous version of the accident reporting form. The result was a new form that is simpler to use, takes less time to complete and was tested to be more accurate than the form currently in place. In addition, it combines the reporting requirements that TxDOT outlined as priorities.
Officers said they liked numerous aspects of the new form, including:
- Fields that allow them to write descriptions of an accident without having to refer back to confusing code sheets,
- Common crash codes added directly to the form,
- Larger font sizes and data fields,
- A simplified and logical format.
The Texas Transportation Commission will review public comments concerning the new form during its March hearing. Once approved, agencies will have the option of using either the new or older form.