NORTH CAROLINA BICYCLE AND PEDESTRIAN SAFETY STUDY

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1 R.J. (Jeff) Jaeger Traffic Safety Systems Management Unit North Carolina Department of Transportation 122 N. McDowell Street Raleigh, NC NORTH CAROLINA BICYCLE AND PEDESTRIAN SAFETY STUDY Abstract: Over the past 37 years ( ), almost one out of every five crash fatalities in North Carolina (18.5%) has been either a bicyclist or a pedestrian. The objective of this study is to aid in improving the safety of the traveling public on nonmotorized transportation by reducing the frequency and severity of crashes involving bicyclists and pedestrians. This is being accomplished by development of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Crash Database (PABCD). The PABCD will store pertinent crash codes and other necessary information and will allow for a timely and accurate analysis of bicycle and pedestrian related crashes. The Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation and the Traffic Safety Systems Management Unit will use the database to evaluate leading factors, cost, and high-frequency locations and to make safety recommendations and perform crash site analyses. The pilot database contained crashes that occurred between January 1, 1993 and December 31, The database is currently being expanded to also include crashes for 1996 and Other potential uses of the database include both general public and school-targeted education, review of current enforcement and existing regulations, and connection to the World Wide Web. INTRODUCTION In 1995, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sponsored a study on pedestrian and bicycle crashes of the early 1990 s. The primary goal of the project was to use the information gained from typing these crashes, along with other crash details, in identifying situations under which these crashes occur. This was to lay the groundwork for future development of new and innovative interventions for reducing the frequency and seriousness of these crashes. The state of Absolute Page Number 308

2 North Carolina, especially the Governor s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) and the Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation (DBPT), has a continuing mission of increasing bicycle and pedestrian travel, as well as reducing the number of injuries and fatalities involved in these modes of transportation. In order to achieve this goal, the DBPT was in need of a database containing statewide bicycle and pedestrian crash data. The Traffic Safety Systems Management Unit (TSSMU), a unit of the Traffic Engineering and Safety Systems Branch (TESSB) of the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) was granted the project to develop a pilot database containing crash information for 1993 to 1995 based on NHTSA typologies. PROBLEM STATEMENT Over the past thirty-seven years ( ), bicyclists and pedestrians have been involved in only 2.17% of all crashes in North Carolina, yet have accounted for almost one fifth (18.5%) of all highway fatalities. This is an extremely disproportionate amount of fatalities for such a small segment of overall crashes. It has even been estimated that less than half of all crashes that involve bicyclists and pedestrians are reported to law enforcement agencies. TABLE 1 NORTH CAROLINA CRASH DATA ( ) All Bicycle and Pedestrian Percent Crashes % Injuries % Fatalities % Therefore, due to the disproportionate amount of fatalities and estimated under-reporting, it is imperative that a complete sampling of all reported crashes of this type be analyzed. Several reasons for coding and classifying all reported pedestrian-related and bicycle-related crashes, along with participant fault and contributing factors, include: review types of data collected and methods of collection determining specific and general crash problems developing and recommending possible countermeasures providing state and local authorities a basis for allocating resources evaluating the effectiveness of countermeasures Absolute Page Number 309

3 CRASH REPORTING Reportable Crashes North Carolina currently uses the DMV-349 Collision Report Form (revised October 1994) for reporting all crashes. A crash is reportable if it meets at least one of the following criteria: A fatality occurred as a result of the collision. Personal injury occurred as a result of the collision. Total property damage amounting to at least $ ($ or more between October 1983 and December 1995) occurred as a result of the collision. The Crash Reporting Process The process of reporting a crash is both tedious and lengthy. The investigating officer has many responsibilities when he arrives on a crash scene, and a preliminary report is often filled out in a hurried manner. Later, the officer re-writes the form in order to produce a complete, professional looking report. The collision report must then be reviewed for completeness, quality control, accuracy, and conflicting data by the officer s supervisor. The investigating agency also enters part of the data into their database for their statistical purposes as well as for spot enforcement programs. The report is then sent to the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) where it is reviewed again and complete data from the report is entered into their mainframe crash database. When this process is completed, the TSSMU has access to the crash data, usually three (3) months or more after the crash occurred. TABLE 2 N.C. REPORTED BICYCLE AND PEDESTRIAN CRASHES ( ) Year Crashes Injuries Fatalities * TOTALS * These totals are just bicyclists and pedestrians and do not include an additional five (5) motorists that were also killed. Absolute Page Number 310

4 THE PEDESTRIAN AND BICYCLE CRASH DATABASE Mission The Pedestrian and Bicycle Crash Database (PABCD) was developed with a purpose to serve as a tool in evaluating pedestrian and bicycle crash trends and possible countermeasures for reducing the frequency and severity of these types of crashes. PABCD s user friendliness and provisions for easy and immediate access to crash information have made the program a powerful tool for analytical and statistical assistance. Development The PABCD was developed using Microsoft Access relational database software. This software was used because it allows for the separation, linkage, and retrieval of different data types in a comprehensive and logical manner. The PABCD is designed as a user-friendly application with easy navigation of forms. Its options include collision search, number query, statistical information, and data update. During development stages, other potential uses were recognized such as posting of the PABCD on the World Wide Web for educational purposes for the general public. FIGURE 1 THE PABCD MAIN SCREEN Absolute Page Number 311

5 Data Records All of the data currently in the PABCD was downloaded from the DMV mainframe crash database. This data consists of all information located on the DMV-349 Collision Report Form and some other additional information. The PABCD fields have retained the same descriptions as those in the DMV mainframe crash database with only a few minor revisions and additions. Information in the PABCD is segmented into different categories and tables. In each table items are related to each other by a common category. For example, the Location Information table only includes geographical information such as the Milepost, City, County, etc. The records in the database are linked in two different ways. First, for the purposes of coding/updating the records, each crash is indexed by month and year which enables the program to quickly retrieve the record from an indexed set rather than check the entire database for the requested record or group of records. Second, unit and participant records are connected to their respective crash records by unique identification numbers that are based on the collision report number. By relating and linking the records in this manner, the database size, relationships, and speed have been utilized to a high degree of efficiency. To decrease the possibility of corruption by interface users, the data files have been separated from the user interface. Coding Unfortunately, not all of the downloaded information was accurate for a variety of reasons. In order to achieve accurate data, all of the downloaded information had to be reviewed and corrected as necessary. Coding of records also included manually entering information such as fault, contributory factors, and crash types. Each crash took approximately ten minutes to code with a majority of coding time being spent on mentally reconstructing the crash, reading and entering the reporting officer s narrative, and identifying faults and contributory factors. Coding of collisions in the PABCD is broken down into two types: pedestrian and bicycle. The procedures for the two collision types are mostly identical with a few minor exceptions. Information fields are tailored to meet the particular collision type data collection needs. For example, fields that deal with wheelchairs, canes, etc. are located on pedestrian forms, but fields that deal with headlights, taillights, etc. are located on bicycle forms. Integrity of Data Temporary and part-time employees of the Engineering Technician level were utilized as coders, and were assigned to the study for varying degrees of time. As a result (with the exception of one individual who remained with the study until all of the 1995 data was completed), there was a high degree of turnover and a disproportionate amount of coding by each coder. However, to retain the integrity of the data, each coder went through a Absolute Page Number 312

6 training program and was issued a copy of a training manual that was developed for this study. Furthermore, each year of data (for the years ) was reviewed by a group of three individuals that consisted of both of the PABCD developers and the one coder that remained throughout the coding of these three years of data. Current Status The PABCD is an extensive database program and some of its auxiliary forms and queries are still under construction. However, forms and processes used to download, verify, and correct records are in place. The database currently includes crash and participant records for the years Approximately ninety-three percent of these records (1993, 1994, 1995, and most of 1996) have been manually checked. By the end of April of this year all data for 1997 should be imported from the mainframe crash database, and procedures for importing 1998 data on a monthly basis should also be in place. On-line documentation for the PABCD will also be available in the future. Maintenance Coding of the initial three-year period ( ) was completed in December of Currently, a PABCD Maintenance Plan is being developed and implemented. This plan will include periodic, usually monthly, downloads from the DMV mainframe crash database, checking and typing of crashes, and data integrity checks. Because one of our objectives is to have information that is as current as possible, the goal of the PABCD is to be only one month behind the DMV mainframe crash database. With future automation of crash reporting (which is already in testing stages in Wake County), information should be available sooner for access by the PABCD. CRASH CODING Training Both a training program and a training manual ( Pedestrian and Bicycle Crash Training Manual for PABCD ) were developed for this study. They were developed with the aid of a number of different sources, all of which are listed in the REFERENCES section. The training manual also consists of two sub-manuals called the Pedestrian Crash Training Manual (PCM) and the Bicycle Crash Training Manual (BCM), and these can be used as individual references for coders once the training process is completed. The main purpose of the training program and manual was to provide coders with complete information regarding crash typing, assigning fault and contributory factors to the participants of the crash, and to assist in Absolute Page Number 313

7 retaining a high degree of conformity during the coding process. These manuals covered many areas deemed important to the study including relevant North Carolina General Statutes and graphical representations and detailed explanations of all crash types. FIGURE 2 PEDESTRIAN AND BICYCLE CRASH TRAINING MANUAL FOR PABCD Traffic Laws All current general statutes that directly affect the interaction of pedestrians and bicyclists with motor vehicles on the state s roads and highways have been researched for this study. Each coder had to become familiar with these statutes because this knowledge is critical for crash reconstruction, fault and contributory factors. Local municipal ordinances were also taken into consideration if known or if they are indicated on the crash report. Crash Reconstruction Crash reconstruction is basically the process by which a crash is reassembled so as to provide as complete a picture as possible of the sequence of events that led up to, and any contributing factors of, the crash. When coding the PABCD, it was necessary for coders to perform a mental crash reconstruction in order to be able to extract the following from the crash report: exact location of the crash and the positions of each participant that was involved pre-crash and post-crash directions, speeds, and maneuvers of all participants involved Absolute Page Number 314

8 contributory factors at the location from roadway, environmental, or other non-participant sources contributory factors by each participant fault Crash Typing Crash types in this study are based on the Manual Accident Typing (MAT) that was developed by the NHTSA. Crash typing involves classifying a crash into one of 147 different category types, depending on how and where the crash occurred. Crash typing involves independent thinking on the part of the coder. A coder must be able to read and comprehend a sequence of events that transgressed prior to, and during, a crash. Crash typing involves two basic steps. The first step is to review the DMV-349 Collision Report Form to determine the location of the participants, the presence and location of traffic control devices, and the original paths and last-minute maneuvers of participants. The second step is to review the given crash types and their descriptions and select an appropriate code. The method used for determining pedestrian-related crash codes was to first select an appropriate category and then to choose an appropriate code from the category. In other words, it was a best fit selection process. The crash categories used for pedestrian crashes were as follows: 1. Special Circumstances 2. Vehicle Specific 3. Disabled/Emergency Vehicle 4. Working/Playing in Roadway 5. Walking Along Road/Crossing Expressway 6. Not in Road 7. Intersection Related 8. Midblock 9. Other or Inadequate Information The method used for determining bicyclist-related crash codes was to first select an appropriate group and then to choose an appropriate code within the group while reviewing the codes in a certain sequence and selecting the first, best code. In other words, it was a first come selection process. The crash groups used for bicycle crashes were as follows: 1. Special Circumstances 2. Parallel Paths 3. Crossing Paths 4. Miscellaneous Absolute Page Number 315

9 The above methods are based directly on the NHTSA methods for coding and were used because it is important that data in the PABCD be directly comparable to data from other national studies. POST-DEVELOPMENT MATERIALS Many materials have been developed as a result of this study. Many have been used solely for internal purposes or are still in draft form, but most are available for distribution: North Carolina General Statutes Related to Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation (North Carolina General Statutes poster) Pedestrian Crashes (pedestrian crash codes poster) Bicycle Crashes (bicycle crash codes poster) 1993 North Carolina Pedestrian Crash Data (a booklet of tables summarizing pedestrian crashes for the year 1993) 1994 North Carolina Pedestrian Crash Data (a booklet of tables summarizing pedestrian crashes for the year 1994) 1995 North Carolina Pedestrian Crash Data (a booklet of tables summarizing pedestrian crashes for the year 1995) 1993 North Carolina Bicycle Crash Data (a booklet of tables summarizing bicycle crashes for the year 1993) 1994 North Carolina Bicycle Crash Data (a booklet of tables summarizing bicycle crashes for the year 1994) 1995 North Carolina Bicycle Crash Data (a booklet of tables summarizing bicycle crashes for the year 1995) North Carolina Bicycle and Pedestrian Summary Crash Data (booklet summarizing bicycle and pedestrian crashes) Pedestrian and Bicycle Crash Training Manual for PABCD (training manual prepared for coders of the database) CONCLUSIONS During the initial coding phase (crashes between January 1, 1993 and December 31, 1995), problems were discovered concerning the type of information supplied by the DMV-349 form. Safety data such as sidewalks and crosswalks, bicycle headlights, and protective clothing worn by bicyclists and pedestrians were only recorded at the discretion of the reporting officer in the narrative. Also, because bicycle and pedestrian crashes have such a small impact area, roadway information obtained from the NCDOT mainframe computer (such as the type and width of Absolute Page Number 316

10 shoulders) was found to be incomplete, old, or incrementally too large to be beneficial for this safety study. Therefore, recommendations have already been submitted for changes to the DMV-349 Collision Report Form and DMV mainframe crash database elements that should improve data collection for crashes involving non-motorists. These recommendations include adding fields for the types and locations of participant injuries, participant safety devices and clothing, non-motorist highway safety features, non-motorist utilities (such as wheelchairs and canes), and shoulder types and widths. The PABCD is currently being used to make safety recommendations, to identify locations that may be high-risk areas for the non-motorist public, and to perform crash site analyses. There are many other potential uses for the database including both general public and school-targeted education and review of current enforcement of existing statutes and ordinances. The PABCD is an extremely valuable tool that can have far reaching effects concerning crash analyses, safety, and possible countermeasures for bicycle and pedestrian transportation in the State of North Carolina. It will also enable our state to present more accurate records and statistics for national studies by the federal government and other groups. This study will allow us to review trends, causes and contributory factors, highincident locations, and other information concerning non-motorist crashes. Even though the database is not fully functional, the coding and review of data for has been completed and manual querying and crosstabulation of the data is available. After running sample queries and completing some actual spot safety analyses, the PABCD has so far proven to be a solution to the deficiency of data collection and analysis capability in regards to the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians. A comprehensive final report for the study should be completed by the middle of this year. REFERENCES Cross, Kenneth D., and Gary Fisher. A Study of Bicycle/Motor-Vehicle Accidents: Identification of Problem Types and Countermeasure Approaches. 3 vols. Springfield: National Technical Information Service, Sep Eubanks, Jerry. Pedestrian Accident Reconstruction. Videocassette. Tucson: Lawyers and Judges Publishing Company, Absolute Page Number 317

11 Federal Highway Administration. Manual On Uniform Traffic Control Devices (For Streets and Highways). Washington: US Government Printing Office, Federal Highway Administration. Pedestrian and Bicycle Crash Types of the Early 1990 s. Washington, Jun Federal Highway Administration. The National Bicycling and Walking Study (Transportation Choices for a Changing America). Publication Number FHWA-PD Washington: US Government Printing Office, Mar Green, James M. Bicycle Accident Reconstruction: A Guide for the Attorney and Forensic Engineer. 3rd ed. Tucson: Lawyers and Judges Publishing Company, Hunter, William W., Wayne E. Pein and Jane C. Stutts. Bicycle / Motor Vehicle Crash Types: The Early 1990 s. Chapel Hill: UNC Highway Safety Research Center, Sep Motor Vehicle Laws of North Carolina, 1995 Edition. Charlottesville: The Michie Company, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Manual Accident Typing for Bicyclist Accidents - Coder s Handbook. Washington. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Manual Accident Typing for Bicyclist Accidents - Training Manual. Washington. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Strategic Plan. Publication Number DOT-HS Washington, Nov North Carolina Bicycle Facilities Planning and Design Guidelines. ed. University of North Carolina Institute for Transportation Research and Education. Chapel Hill: UNC Highway Safety Research Center, Jan Absolute Page Number 318

12 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Alan V. Vouk Mr. Vouk, who worked with us while a student-intern from North Carolina State University, was a co-developer of this safety study and wrote the majority of the Access code for the PABCD program. He left our unit after graduating from NCSU in December 1997 with a BS degree in Civil Engineering and is currently touring Europe. Curtis B. Yates and Mary P. Meletiou The North Carolina Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Mr. Yates and Ms. Meletiou were very helpful in conveying their needs for a safety database as well as what possibilities they hoped to realize from the database and study. Paul M. Kelly and Diana S. Deadmore Traffic Safety Systems Management Unit Mr. Kelly and Mrs. Deadmore were instrumental in both their coding and checking efforts, and assisted greatly in both of these areas. Mr. Kelly, who also worked with us while a student-intern from North Carolina State University, graduated from NCSU in December 1997 with a BS degree in Environmental Engineering and currently works for an Environmental Engineering firm in the Raleigh area. Mrs. Deadmore is currently continuing her work on the study by coding crashes that occurred in J. Kevin Lacy, EIT, A.D. (Tony) Wyatt, PE, and Cheryl P. Bitting Traffic Safety Systems Management Unit Mr. Lacy and Mr. Wyatt were instrumental in their support and guidance, and Mrs. Bitting was invaluable in all of the computer hardware and software assistance that she provided. Larry J. Allen, Greg A. Mintz, EIT, C. Dwayne Tharpe, Troy S. Finn, Brian G. Murphy, C. Ryan McNeill, and Malcolm F. Hogan Traffic Safety Systems Management Unit Many thanks to these individuals who assisted in the coding of over twelve thousand crash reports for the period. Absolute Page Number 319

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