By SUSAN HAIGH,  Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ A research center at UConn announced Monday it plans to create a new electronic system to better track and analyze data from the tens of thousands of vehicle crashes that occur each year across Connecticut.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Monday the information will be used by public officials and others to identify and research all sorts of problems on the roads. They could include particular trees that are often struck by cars, the frequency of drunken driving arrests along certain stretches of roadway, hazardous intersections, and crash patterns and trends.

“It is critical that we have systems that analyze this information rapidly so that we can make some of the changes that we need to make in our state, a state that has older infrastructure than many other states,” Malloy said.

The Department of Transportation currently receives more than 5,000 paper crash reports each month from local police departments. Only the state police electronically file their reports, representing only 30 percent of all reports on crashes. Given the fact 70 percent of the reports are paper, officials said there is currently a yearlong backlog in processing them.

Under the new “E-Crash” system being developed by UConn’s Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center, officers would electronically submit crash data from the field in their police cruisers.

Malloy said it will be up to municipalities to decide when to begin participating in the program, but he said many cities and towns already have the necessary technology to comply.

“It eliminates that step of taking paper and entering it back into a database,” said Eric Jackson, the center’s director. UConn students have been entering data from the paper police reports into the system to help reduce the backlog.

According to DOT statistics, there were an average 289 crashes each day in Connecticut between 2007 and 2010. On average, 275 people are killed each year in vehicle crashes in the state.

Jackson said the electronic crash data will be posted on a website that can be accessed by the public and others. Also, UConn professors who specialize in safety analysis work will produce tools, maps and graphics using the information and make that available to the public as well.

“We’ll provide the data so planners and engineers can look at the data and get the data quickly to make their own recommendations that are key for their town or the state itself,” Jackson said.

The center opened last fall and is currently providing safety data to regional organizations. Malloy’s office said Connecticut is one of a handful of states to partner with a major university on safety data collection and analysis. The DOT is giving the center $600,000 in federal money to fund its first year of operation.
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)    


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