NCHRP Web-Only Document 302: Development of a Comprehensive Approach for Serious Traffic Crash Injury Measurement and Reporting Systems, provides a roadmap for state departments of transportation (DOTs) to develop comprehensive crash-related data linkage systems. A particular focus of the research was defining and measuring serious injuries in crashes. Since the completion of the research in 2017, newer versions of related systems have been released, additional research has been performed, and technological developments have advanced capabilities in this area. For example, it is now possible to use a Universally Unique Identifier (UUID) to perform deterministic linkage between two records in emergency medical service and trauma registry databases. Applying this method to crash records to link them to EMS, trauma registries, and other types of data will increase the availability of these linkages, allowing for advancements in traffic safety data analysis, which in turn will lead to development of more effective and comprehensive traffic safety programs. In addition, this research would support more sophisticated safety target setting, as well as safety performance monitoring and management.
The objective of this research is to further refine an approach proposed by the joint National Association of State EMS Officials – American College of Surgeons policy statement, “A Novel Approach to Data Linkage: EMS and Trauma Registry Data” to use a UUID to link traffic crash report data with other data systems. This will allow state agencies to measure serious injuries by linking crash data at the state level with the EMS and hospital trauma registry data, providing more detailed quantification of crash outcomes in terms of injury severity scoring, hospitalization costs, length of stay, and permanent disability. This research will be especially important for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and bicyclists–who typically experience low reporting rates in police collision datasets–since EMS and trauma registry records are not limited to the incident types for which police records are filed.
Tasks may include: (1) analysis of changes in traffic safety related data and advancements in traffic safety data analyses since the research conducted to produce NCHRP Web-Only Document 302 was completed in 2017; (2) further development of the method of deterministic linkage of EMS and trauma registry data using a UUID to perform similar linkages with crash report databases; (3) specifying the “landing spot” for the UUID in various existing data standards (e.g., MMUCC define), and assessing and applying previously developed relevant methodology or related research; and (4) development of an implementation plan that provides a potential path for nationwide outreach, implementation, and guidance for agencies collaborating in individual states to implement the research results, depending on their current readiness to adopt proposed data linking methodology.
This research would support informed, data-driven decisions that affect safety, and would further enable state DOTs to collaborate with traffic safety stakeholders. Reducing the complexity of database linkage practices will allow states to more fully assess the total crash event and the continuum of care offered to patients after the crash. Current data linkage practices are complex and dependent on the availability and quality of “like” elements within disparate datasets. Specifying and promoting use of a UUID to link records (with no use of protected health information or personally identifying information) will greatly enhance the reliability and precision of records linkage and will facilitate record linkage among states and governmental entities.