Leveraging the California Highway Incident Processing System for Policy and Research

Research Team: David Waetjen (lead) and Fraser Shilling

University: UC Davis

Problem Statement: The California Highway Patrol (CHP) helps to monitor, manage, and maintain safety on California roadways. CHP personnel are often the first to arrive at traffic accidents on highways, rural roads and major arterials. The CHP temporarily publishes incident reports, along with information about road conditions, natural disaster, and other roadway events, on the public Incident Reporting System in real-time, in part so that other agencies can monitor activity in their respective regions. The data captures the communication between CHP officers and their dispatch center, describing what happens moment-to-moment. Unfortunately, only a subset of these communication data are available for download at a later date. After a post-processing step, the data is published via the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS) database and the Caltrans Performance Measurement System (PeMS), and while data provided via SWITRS and PeMS provide substantial information about traffic accidents, they lack accurate location data and narrative descriptions during the incident. There is no data portal to view and download the real-time, on-the-scene reports, and no way to link these records to the associated SWITRS entry, which would better capture the “life cycles” of traffic accidents (i.e., the processes occurring between the beginning of the incident and arrival of a CHP officer at an accident scene, and delivery of a victim at a medical facility).

Project Description: Since 2015, the Road Ecology Center (REC) at UC Davis has collected all information posted to CHP’s Incident Reporting Page and storing the data in a web-database called the California Highway Incident Processing System (CHIPS). Over 3 million independent incident records have been collected. While this (currently-private) database does not contain moving violations, it does include other daily CHP activities, including accident help following traffic collisions, traffic management (Sig Alerts), natural disaster response (e.g., flooding, fires), and public safety measures (i.e., during high wind or foggy conditions). The researchers will host a workshop with CHP, Caltrans, and other stakeholders to identify research opportunities for CHIPS data, determine how CHIPS data can be best utilized in various scenarios, and determine any differences between CHP-reported data and data that end up in PeMS. The researchers will provide a white paper providing extensive detail about the CHP incident data and include the outcome of conversations and meetings regarding the various uses of the data and how best to provide value-added services to the data for researchers.

Status: Completed

Budget: $25,000

Project Partner(s): California Highway Patrol, California Department of Transportation

Report(s):
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Policy Brief(s):
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