The National Academies

BTSCRP BTS-04 [Active]

Tracking State Traffic Citation and Adjudication Outcomes

  Project Data
Funds: $350,000
Staff Responsibility: Richard Retting
Research Agency: Virginia Technological Institute
Principal Investigator: Justin Owens
Effective Date: 1/3/2019
Completion Date: 12/31/2021
Comments: Research completed

The U.S. Department of Transportation and the states’ Traffic Record Coordinating Committees’ mission is to maximize the overall quality of safety data and analysis based on state traffic records data across all six core systems: crash, vehicle, driver, roadway, citation and adjudication, and injury surveillance. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Traffic Records Program Assessment Advisory (DOT HS 811 644), the states’ citation and adjudication data systems, while interdependent, are vastly different and represent separate state agencies (extending through separate branches of government) and all levels of governance. Responsibility for the systems is shared among various data-owning agencies—from local to state. For traffic records purposes, the goal of the citation and adjudication systems is to collect all the information relevant to traffic-related citations in a central, statewide repository (and linked to appropriate federal data systems) so the information can be analyzed by authorized users to improve and promote traffic safety. Ideally, information from these systems also supports traffic safety analysis that identifies trends in citation issuance, prosecution, and case disposition.
State Highway Safety Offices and State Traffic Records Coordinating Committees have reported challenges with accessing and analyzing citation and adjudication information. Most states have undergone comprehensive traffic records assessments, including assessment of citation and adjudication data systems; however this information is not central or shared among states. Identification and compilation of specific practices and system enhancements that have improved the timeliness, accuracy, completeness, uniformity, integration, and accessibility of citation and adjudication information are needed. Ideally, the court record should reflect the original case filing and any modification that resulted in the specific disposition of the case. The record should also have the ability to track a citation/arrest to final disposition (including driver history), either through central records management systems or interfacing and linkage of disparate systems. Research and guidelines are needed to assist states with improving citation and adjudication information and evaluating effective enforcement and adjudication countermeasures.
The objective of this research is to develop a methodology that enables and facilitates tracking of cases from citation/arrest to final disposition. The research should (1) examine and document state traffic adjudication/disposition efforts that (a) identifies current practices in all states for tracking cases from citation/arrest to final disposition (including driver history); (b) identifies commonalities and differences in state practices; (c) describes current challenges and gaps in data collection, quality, tracking, and sharing; (2) suggest methods for data sharing, permissions, and accessibility; and (3) develop a toolkit of innovative strategies to facilitate communication between state highway safety offices and adjudication decision makers.
STATUS: Research underway.

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