Unifying Alabama's Traffic Safety Efforts
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TACT DPS Programs
Executive Summary of TACT Model Evaluation Report
The project entitled “A National Model for the Evaluation of CMV Selective Enforcement Programs” had the goal of describing best practices for the evaluation of Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks (TACT) projects. The methodology and examples are typically not restricted to formal TACT projects, and they generally apply to any project involving selective enforcement and Public Information and Education (PI&E) with regard to large trucks. For this reason “TACT” was omitted from the project title, but for purposes of brevity these projects will generally be referenced as TACT projects in this report.

The final report for this project is separated into two documents: (1) a brief Methodology Manual (MM) to provide a step-by-step approach to the evaluation of TACT projects, and (2) a Supplemental Report (SR) that presents detailed examples to provide further guidance in areas where it might be required. Throughout these two documents the word project is used to refer to a specific implementation within an overall program. The acronym TACT refers not only to the FMCSA sponsored TACT programs, but to all selective enforcement that would involve commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), recognizing that the methodology and examples have general application. Thus, TACT projects should generally convey the meaning of TACT and/or TACT-type projects.

These two documents have the goal of providing those doing TACT project evaluations with an overall methodology to apply to their evaluations. Specifically, the data collection and analytical techniques to be employed are targeted at law enforcement personnel who have statistical and evaluation interests and the corresponding expected level of expertise in this regard. The evaluations are intended to be ongoing for the purpose of continued improvement as opposed to highly scientific evaluations that might draw undue resources away from the projects themselves. Consultants and university researchers are expected to be employed on these types of evaluations on a minimal “advisory” basis as opposed to turning the entire evaluation process over to them.

The formal Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks (TACT) program is the result of the collaboration of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), both of which have major traffic safety responsibilities. TACT is a high-visibility traffic enforcement program that uses communication, enforcement, and evaluation activities to reduce car-truck crashes, fatalities, and injuries. According to FMCSA, the TACT program “is an evidence-based traffic enforcement model that can help States reduce crashes between large trucks and personal vehicles, by promoting safe driving behavior around commercial motor vehicles (CMVs).” TACT’s goal is to deter unsafe driving behaviors by personal vehicle and commercial motor vehicle drivers when they interact to share the road, and thereby to reduce CMV-private vehicle crashes, injuries, and fatalities.

As its name implies, enforcement is at the heart of the TACT effort. In this regard the specific unsafe acts (e.g., primary contributing circumstances) involving both passenger vehicles and Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs) have been identified as those which can be used to identify citations and crashes that would qualify to be considered within a TACT evaluation.

The evaluation model presented requires planning prior to the project. For example, analytical tools are used at this point to determine the best possible locations in which the selective enforcement portion of the program will be performed. Model examples for these pre-project planning steps are illustrated by an interactive Web site whereby officers locate the hotspots throughout the state. This web display is based on the Critical Analysis Reporting Environment (CARE), which provides additional functionality for producing information on the specified hotspots. In particular, locations are to be sought that are especially over-represented in car-truck (CMV) crashes in which one of the vehicles was guilty of one or more of the TACT offenses (as opposed to crashes in general).

The TACT programs under consideration for evaluation generally involve two major components – a Public Information and Education (PI&E) component and a selective enforcement (SE) component. Usually, PI&E involves both industry and media participation, while the SE involves patrol officers working special details in specific locations and time periods. These efforts can involve local agencies, general DPS Highway Patrol officers, and special DPS Motor Carrier Safety Unit (MCSU) officers.

After-the-fact evaluation without sufficient planning may provide some useful information, but it certainly is most desirable to start the evaluation process well before the projects are to be implemented. The report calls for evaluation planning to be integrated into the overall TACT planning process, since the “before” aspects of the evaluation process can provide valuable information toward optimizing the TACT projects. Called problem identification, this process involves determining the “who, what, when, where, how and why” of the types of crashes under consideration, in this case CMV-involved crashes. Problem identification and planning are heavily emphasized the two report documents, and several examples are given both before and after the projects are implemented.

The effectiveness evaluation procedure requires that detailed records be kept during the selective enforcement effort, which is also the basis for the administrative evaluation. The examples given involve a secure online enforcement summary form that was developed for participating law enforcement officers. Each TACT officer enters his/her name, department, enforcement location, enforcement time period, and counts for each type of citation issued. Citations that are entered are further categorized by the vehicle type issued to: CMV or Non-CMV. Motor carrier officers can also report CMV inspections using this same form. In order for the evaluation to consider specific areas and locations, officers must submit a form for each separate location and time period they patrolled. Based on these data, daily, weekly, and monthly reports can be automatically generated and made available on the Internet. In the system illustrated, these reports can be available for the entire state, for each participating agency or DPS troop, or for individual officers.

The first TACT project was quite comprehensive in scope, at times involving almost all patrol officers in Alabama. Several examples are given for this effort in which over 30,000 citations and warnings were issued as part of the TACT program. Of these, the vast majority (94%) of citations were issued to private motorists, and only about 10% of the contacts resulted in warnings as opposed to citations.

Several types of evaluations are exemplified in the Supplemental Report:
  • A comparison of crashes before and during the TACT projects,
  • A crash comparison of months in which TACT selective enforcement was being applied against months in which there were little or no TACT efforts.
  • A comparison of citations issued before and during the TACT projects,
  • Two attitude surveys for participating officers and truckers,
  • A survey of drivers distributed at driver licensing stations.
  • Observational studies that employed existing cameras to determine if PI&E, billboards and selective enforcement was changing driver behavior.
The crash comparison examples considered two types of crashes: all crashes involving CMVs, and two vehicle crashes involving a CMV and a Personal Vehicle (car). The more significant findings were in the overall CMV crashes as opposed to the two vehicle case where a CMV and a car were involved. In all cases significant reductions in crashes were found. The following two tables presents a summary of the crash-reduction results estimated: (1) for CMV-involved crashes during the first TACT project, and (2) a number of follow-on projects that were conducted during the 17-month interim period beginning after the completion of the first project and finishing before the most recent TACT effort, which that took place in June 2011. These results are rounded to the nearest crash with the exception of the fatal crash category, and the counts are of crashes, not persons injured or persons killed.

Estimates of Crash Savings per Month for the First TACT Project Months

Estimates of Crash Savings per Month for the Interim Project Months

These results are surprisingly comparable given the realization that they were obtained through two quite different estimation techniques. The first TACT program was evaluated by comparing crashes before and during the program. The interim projects were evaluated by comparing months in which TACT effort hours exceeded 100 hours against those that had less. All but two of the non-TACT months had zero hours worked. These crash-reduction estimate example results are a by-product of the Model Evaluation project, which had as its goal to illustrate sound evaluation methods, and not necessarily to evaluate any particular project.

The analysis of eCite-issued citations was performed to determine if there was a more concentrated effort during the TACT program times to issue citations for TACT type offenses. The following is an example summary of the results for the first TACT project.

Change in Citations Issued During TACT Period

VIOLATION TYPE May-Aug 2009* Sep-Dec 2009 % Inc (+)/Dec (-)
Speeding 60,730 61,928 +2.0%**
Following Too Close 1,847 1,966 +6.4%**
Improper Lane Change 901 1,258 +39.6%**
Failure To Signal 443 628 +41.9%
No Seatbelt 28,941 25,589 -11.6%**
No Insurance 15,401 16,062 +4.3%**
Drivers’ License 10,599 11,432 +7.9%**
Improper Passing 262 260 -0.8%

* Adjusted so that the two four-month periods are comparable.
** Statistically significant increases at alpha less than 0.01.

All of the violation type categories showed statistical significant increases or decreases at the alpha level of 0.01 or less with the exception of Failure to Signal and Improper Passing.

The example officer survey indicated that officers’ attitudes toward the TACT program are generally positive. The only possible exception is the question with regard to whether TACT was best run as a statewide program or left for individual officers to enforce. Although more Officers responded they could best perform TACT-related activities on their own, over half indicated that awareness of car and truck interactions led to more citations after conducting the TACT program.

Similarly, there was an overall positive attitude expressed toward the TACT conveyed via the example trucker survey. There were fifteen responses to the online trucker survey, and of these the majority was administrators (i.e., owners and managers). The results indicated industry support for TACT. Specifically, 94% of the respondents indicated the program was positive and 100% indicated they felt the enforcement was fair. Interestingly, the trucker survey indicated more support for large-scale organized programs such as TACT as opposed to more ad hoc, individual officer based enforcement.