Law enforcement and transportation safety experts are utilizing a new tool to better understand what causes accidents so they can help prevent them in the future.

The Rutgers University Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation is using software called Numetric to better analyze crash data in a more holistic way. The information is shared with the state Department of Transportation, local police departments and nonprofit pedestrian and bicycle safety groups.

According to Numetric CEO Nate Bowler, the program allows safety experts to quickly look at large amounts of crash data and figure out where crashing are occurring, what some of the root causes are.

The Numetric system allows traffic safety experts to gather data on crashes along Route 195, for example, and then review that accident information during a certain time period of the day when traffic volume may be heavier. They can also look at the age of drivers involved in accidents.

“Maybe we need to install better signage, maybe there are accidents happening around a specific off-ramp where there isn’t enough warning and they’re making quicker lane changes," he said.

The Numetric software program crunches local and state police crash data as well as state and federal highway information and then provides a user-friendly way to look at accident cluster information to help police and traffic safety engineers address safety issues faster and more efficiently.

“It allows safety engineers to make better decisions for how to invest money, how to invest the budget dollars to prioritize roadway improvements, looking at it through a lens of improving safety," he said.

“Your tax dollars are more optimally spent on projects that can have a bigger impact on safety than they would otherwise.”

He said by giving safety experts a wider scope of crash information in an easier to understand format, it enhances their ability to come up with cost efficient and effective safety treatments to lessen the probability of accidents.

He stressed this kind of information empowers a safety engineer to make better decisions “around things that can be done to improve safety, and the system makes the data more shareable with different departments and agencies.”

The Numetric project is being funded by the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety.

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