GIS for Transportation: Principles, Data and Applications

7.2 Getting to Know a Transportation Organization


This week, you’ll take some time to get to know the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA - pronounced "NITS-uh”). NHTSA is an agency within the USDOT responsible for reducing deaths, injuries, and economic losses resulting from motor vehicle crashes. The agency was created by the Highway Safety Act of 1970 to administer programs that had previously been the responsibility of the National Highway Safety Bureau.

Dr. Mark Rosekind was the NHTSA Administrator under the Obama administration. Take a look at a 37-minute presentation he gave at the Original Equipment Suppliers Association (OESA) 2016 annual meeting. Also, spend some time reviewing NHTSA’s 2016-2020 strategic plan titled “The Road Ahead”.

Figure 6 - NHTSA's Strategic Goals and Objectives 2016-2020
Strategic Goal Strategic Objectives
  • Reduce Fatalities and Injuries.
  • Increase Survivability From Crashes.
  • Reduce Economic Costs.
Proactive Vehicle Safety
  • Promote the Proactive Safety Principles.
  • Enhance ODI.
  • Conduct Campaigns To Improve Recall Completion Rates.
  • Inform and Empower Consumers.
  • Coordinate Global Road Safety.
Automated Vehicles
  • Safely Deploy Highly Automated Vehicles.
  • Safely Deploy V2V Communications.
  • Enable a Robust, Layered Framework for Vehicle Cybersecurity.
Human Choices
  • Promote Innovative Solutions Behavioral Safety.
  • Leverage Law Enforcement Partnerships.
  • Provide Oversight and Guidance to State Highway Safety Offices.
Organizational Excellence
  • Improve NHTSA's Ability to Deliver Quality Data and Analysis.
  • Strengthen Mission Critical Information Technology.
  • Properly Identify Human Capital Needs.
  • Improve Financial Performance.

Credit: THE ROAD AHEAD, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Strategic Plan 2016—2020 (USDOT, NHTSA October 2016)

A few of NHTSA’s areas of focus are briefly described below:

Vehicle Safety Ratings and Recalls

NHTSA plays a large role in accepting and tracking vehicle safety complaints which can ultimately lead to safety recalls. They also administer the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) which assesses and scores vehicle models using a 5-star safety rating. Safety rating and recall information is compiled and made available to consumers. Using this information, consumers can quickly determine how specific vehicles perform in front-end, side, and rear-end collisions in addition to rollovers. NHTSA also compiles safety information on car seats, tires, and other equipment.

Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS)

DDACTS is a model which NHTSA developed in association with the Department of Justice (DOJ). It uses the temporal and spatial analysis of crash and crime data to identify the optimal deployment of highly visible law enforcement personnel and vehicles. Detailed information about the model is available in the DDACTS Operational Guidelines.

National 911 Program

The purpose of the National 911 Program is to promote and coordinate 911 services across the U.S. NHTSA is currently promoting and rolling out the Next Generation of 911 (NG911) which will modernize 911 systems based on advances in technology which have occurred since 911 was first put in place 50 years ago.

Office of Vehicle Safety Research

The Office of Vehicle Safety Research is a NHTSA Office that develops and implements research programs designed to reduce crashes, fatalities, and injuries. Some of their research activities can be found here.

National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA)

The NCSA is an office within NHTSA which provides analytical and statistical support to the agency through data collection, crash investigations, and data analysis. One of NCSA’s responsibilities is to maintain and enhance FARS. They also produce many useful and interesting publications summarizing information gathered by NHTSA.

Assignment 7-3 (15 points)

Spend some time reviewing NHTSA’s strategic plan (no need to read it cover to cover!) and watching the presentation Dr. Rosekind gave to the OESA at their 2016 annual meeting. Submit an M.S. Word document to Assignment 7-3 in Canvas (no more than 500 words) which addresses the following items:

  1. According to NHTSA, 94% of all crashes are caused by humans. Briefly talk about how this impacts the potential role of technology, and especially spatial technology, in making our highways safer in the future. (5 points)
  2. NHTSA uses the phrase “Three Roads to Zero”. What are these three roads? (2 points)
  3. What are some transportation-related initiatives or other activities which NHSTA is engaged in which utilize or could benefit from the application of spatial technology? (5 points)
  4. Pick one of the strategic objectives NHTSA identifies in their strategic plan which you think will be effective in improving safety. In a few sentences, indicate why you think it will be effective. (3 points)