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Using Data to Determine a High Visibility Enforcement Dosage to Reduce Crashes

 

Abstract:  In early 2017, the South Precinct of the Metro Nashville Police Department was struggling with high numbers of motor vehicle crashes that were straining limited resources. A concerted effort was made to delve into the traffic crash data and use that data to develop a strategy to reduce crashes in the target areas. During the data collection process, internal “blind spots” were discovered. To overcome the data shortfalls, assistance was requested from the Tennessee Highway Patrol. By using the data collected from various sources a clearer picture of the crash problem emerged. The data analyzed included locations, times, severity, contributing factors, and traffic volume. This data then informed the development of a High Visibility Enforcement (HVE) campaign along a main corridor in the precinct that was divided into two segments. The HVE plan focused a group of officers along the target areas for two hours leading up to the afternoon rush hour, two days a week – one week a month. Officers were given specific instructions to seek out and enforce only those violations that correlated to the contributing factors discovered in the data analysis. The emphasis was not on the number of traffic stops or tickets but rather on focusing on behaviors they observed that could lead to a crash. Briefings were conducted after each operational period to collect data on the types of violations they observed, citations issued, and discuss problems or what could be improved. As a result of the program, traffic crashes dropped significantly in the target areas, while crashes citywide continued to rise. During the evaluation of the data during the program it was found that the HVE operations could reduce crashes in the area for a period of about three weeks following an operation before crash numbers would begin to increase. This “dosage” that was discovered during the operation allowed for an efficient plan to reduce crashes to be implemented. A cost-benefit analysis of the plan found that the reduction in crashes relieved officers of a significant amount of time to engage in other activities..


Sergeant James Williams - is currently a supervisor over the DUI Enforcement Unit for the Metro Nashville Police Department. During his time with the department, he has served as an officer in patrol, as a Crash Investigator and Reconstructionist within the Traffic Section, and as a patrol supervisor. In his current position, Sergeant Williams is responsible for analyzing crash and arrest data pertaining to driver impairment and develops intervention strategies. Sergeant Williams has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Kentucky and a master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University. For his master’s thesis, Sergeant Williams researched the use and effectiveness of predictive analytics to inform enforcement strategies aimed at reducing traffic-related deaths and offenses. In 2016, Sergeant Williams was selected as a National Institute of Justice Law Enforcement Advancing Data and Science (LEADS) Scholar.

 

 

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