The problem: The purpose in collecting data is to enable analysis to help understand the causes and circumstances of transportation-related deaths and injuries, and then to help reduce deaths and injuries. But methods and skills vary widely, and there is no good forum for sharing research findings or best practices in research methods. Also, the level of resources for analysis and evaluation is widely believed to be too low, after two decades of decline in its prominence. As a result of these shortcomings, the effectiveness of our analyses is limited, and therefore the effectiveness of our programs is also limited.
What we need: We need a sophisticated and coordinated analysis capability, with a size and scope commensurate with its value in directing programs, and where the value is widely recognized. To achieve this, we should benchmark other agencies, and evaluate the variety of modal approaches to data analysis. We need to develop a plan for building the department's analytical capability, and create a mechanism for sharing best practices and research results.
Benefits: Good analysis underpins virtually every successful program. It can help identify transportation problems, as well as help in the development of policy options, in the interpretation of performance, and in the assessment of program effectiveness. Using the data will also drive improvements to the data.