How data sophistication can help agencies improve traffic safety to save more lives
By beefing up your level of data sophistication, your agency can better translate data into action
By Police1 BrandFocus Staff
Like all modern-day organizations, law enforcement agencies need data to make informed decisions and develop successful strategies. And while most law enforcement entities are collecting some form of crash data, not all of that data is used effectively to improve traffic safety. The level of data sophistication your agency has ─ from the quality of your data to how it’s being analyzed and applied ─ plays a substantial role in determining how well-positioned you are for tackling the largest challenges facing law enforcement, including improving traffic safety and reducing road fatalities.
Reducing injuries and fatalities on our roadways has become increasingly challenging. The ripple effects of the COVID-19 crisis have presented unforeseen consequences, including a dramatic rise in fatal vehicle crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) April 2022 report, an estimated 42,915 people died in crashes in 2021, an increase of 10.5% over 2020 and the highest number of fatalities since 2005. Some of this increase has been attributed to a spike in reckless driving and speeding. In 2021, more people were back on the road, and the trend continued with some agencies issuing more tickets for speeding in excess of 100 mph and reckless driving than they did in 2020.
"Our research finds that higher-risk motorists accounted for a greater share of drivers during the pandemic than before it," said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. "Safety-minded individuals drove less, while many who increased their driving tended to engage in riskier behaviors behind the wheel."
To solve this issue and other complex problems in policing, you need to make your data work for you. By assessing your level of data sophistication and making efforts to improve it, your agency can better translate data into action.
WHAT IS DATA SOPHISTICATION?
Data is one of the primary drivers of effective decision-making in any successful organization, and how you manage and analyze it matters just as much as the data itself. According to Seagate Technology, roughly 68% of data available to enterprises isn’t put to work, which can be caused by a number of factors ─ from how it’s collected to how easily decision-makers can access and interpret it. Data sophistication is a measure of how well your agency is collecting, organizing, and analyzing high-quality data to inform decisions.
WHY DATA SOPHISTICATION MATTERS
For an issue as dynamic as traffic enforcement and safety, law enforcement agencies need access to timely, accurate data that they can easily access and translate into comprehensive visualizations. This approach enables agencies to see what’s happening in their community and respond swiftly. Your agency’s degree of data sophistication can mean the difference in being reactive, proactive, or preventive in your decision-making. Agencies that lack robust data and analytics ─ and rely on antiquated systems like paper-based, manual processes ─ are often making decisions reactively because the data is not timely and it is housed in disparate systems, making it difficult to mine for actionable insights, quickly. The more advanced your agency’s data and analytics capabilities, the more easily your agency can implement proactive or preventive measures that pinpoint traffic safety issues and trends, enabling the development of targeted traffic safety programs, and the ability to communicate these actions to the community transparently.
When applied, this approach enables the ability to collect quality, comprehensive, real-time data on a platform that makes it easy to crunch, access, and interpret the data and advanced analytics in real-time ─ without the immediate need for an analyst. At the highest level of data sophistication, agencies have evolved from manual data collection to an automated system that provides intelligence that agencies can use to take a proactive approach to traffic safety now, with analytics that can paint a picture of how trends may look in the future, empowering a preventive strategy.
In practice, an agency with a high level of data sophistication can:
- Quickly deploy proactive patrols based on recurring trouble spots.
- Develop a strategic traffic safety program to help prevent crashes instead of responding to them after the fact.
- Save time and money through automation of data collection and reporting.
- Use reports to assist in winning grants.
- Provide better visibility and transparency to the community.
ASSESSING YOUR DATA SOPHISTICATION
LexisNexis Coplogic Solutions has developed a data sophistication model that agencies can use as a guide to self-evaluate their current capabilities and create a plan to evolve to a higher level. Which level describes your agency?
Level 1: The agency is paper-based, with siloed systems and disparate, low-volume data. Because of these limitations, the agency is addressing traffic issues reactively.
Level 2: The agency has some electronic, as well as paper, systems in place. Data is still limited, and analytics are minimal. At this level, the agency is also addressing traffic safety and enforcement reactively.
Level 3: At this level, the agency has implemented some automation and is using electronic systems, but the information remains siloed with rudimentary analytics. Most decision-making at this level of data sophistication remains reactive.
Level 4: The agency, at this level, has begun to connect their data by implementing automated, integrated electronic systems that provide basic analytics and data sets. Here, agencies can take proactive actions such as dynamic patrols.
Level 5: At level five, the agency has a truly robust, automated system in place to collect comprehensive and real-time data from various sources into one unified and nimble platform that is easy for decision-makers to leverage and act upon with data-driven decisioning. This enables agencies to design preventive strategies to stop crashes before they happen.
DATA SOPHISTICATION CAN HELP KEEP ROADS SAFE
No matter where your agency is on its data sophistication journey, LexisNexis Coplogic Solutions can meet you where you are and help take you to the next level in actionable data and analytics that can help your agency drive strategic traffic safety programs that help prevent injuries and fatalities on US roadways.
To learn more, visit LexisNexis Coplogic Solutions.
 Leah Shahum, “New National Goal to Eliminate Traffic Deaths by 2050 Boosts Local Vision Zero Efforts,” Vision Zero Network, August 13, 2020, https://visionzeronetwork.org/roadtozero/.
 National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2022, May). Early estimates of motor vehicle traffic fatalities and fatality rate by sub-categories is 2021 (Crash•Stats Brief Statistical Summary. Report No. DOT HS 813 298). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
 Andrew Gross Manager et al., “Solving a Puzzle: With Fewer Drivers on the Road during COVID, Why the Spike in Fatalities?,” AAA Newsroom (AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, February 28, 2022), https://newsroom.aaa.com/2022/02/solving-a-puzzle-with-fewer-drivers-on-the-road-during-covid-why-the-spike-in-fatalities/.
 “Rethink Data Report - Seagate US” (Seagate), accessed May 2, 2022, https://www.seagate.com/files/www-content/our-story/rethink-data/files/Rethink_Data_Report_2020.pdf.