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The National Academies

BTSCRP BTS-04 [Active]

Tracking State Traffic Citation and Adjudication Outcomes

  Project Data
Funds: $350,000
Staff Responsibility: William C. Rogers
Research Agency: Virginia Technological Institute
Principal Investigator: Ryan Smith
Effective Date: 1/3/2019
Completion Date: 1/2/2021
Comments: Research underway

BACKGROUND
 
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.
 
OBJECTIVE
 
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.
 
The research should address a broad range of issues related to traffic adjudication and disposition efforts such as, but not limited to:
1. Consider different classifications of case filings (e.g., payable offenses with no court appearance required, misdemeanors, and felonies) for categorizing current practices;
2. Document state legislative reporting requirements for courts;
3. Identify key incentives and disincentives for courts to implement or improve their case management systems;
4. Identify automation and efficiency opportunities for court record systems;
5. Outline privacy and data security implications; and
6. Examine inter-jurisdictional reciprocity issues and suggest potential solutions.

Note: Proposers are encouraged to review the following research: Electronic Records Management Guide for the Judiciary, National Association for Court Management, 2017; State Court Guide to Statistical Reporting, Vol. 2.1.2, CSP (Court Statistics Projects), 2017; NHTSA DOT HS 811 644, Traffic Records Program Assessment Advisory, July 2012; NHTSA DOT HS 811 447, Feasibility of Collecting Traffic Safety Data from Law Enforcement Agencies, April 2011; and New Trends in Advanced Traffic Adjudication Techniques, U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1976.
 
RESEARCH APPROACH
 
The BTSCRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can be realistically accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposer’s current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective.
 
A kick-off teleconference of the research team and BTSCRP shall be scheduled within 1 month of the contract’s execution. The work plan must be divided into two phases with tasks, with each task described in detail. Phase 1 will consist of information gathering as described in Objective Criteria 1, culminating in the submission of an interim report. The interim report will describe the work completed in Phase 1 and provide an updated work plan for the Phase 2 tasks (Objective Criteria 2 and 3), including an outline of the toolkit. There must be a face-to-face meeting scheduled with BTSCRP to discuss the interim report. No work shall be performed on Phase 2 without BTSCRP approval.
 
The final deliverables will include (1) toolkit of innovative strategies, with linked resources and references, to facilitate communication between state highway safety offices and adjudication decision makers and provides a method that tracks cases from citation/arrest to final disposition; (2) a final report documenting the entire project, incorporating all other specified deliverables of the research; (3) an electronic presentation of the key points of the research that can be tailored for specific audiences; (4) a webinar to inform practitioners of the research results; (5) presentations on the research results to the GHSA Executive Board and the GHSA annual meeting; (6) informational materials for audiences such as state highway safety offices, court administrators, law enforcement, state driver licensing agencies, and legislators; (7) recommendations on needs and priorities for additional research; and (8) a stand-alone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products”. Proposers may recommend additional deliverables and presentations to support the project objective.
 
STATUS: Research underway.

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