SHRP 2 is a 223$ million federally funded research program that aims to advance innovative ways to plan, renew, operate and improve safety on the United States highways. Managed by TRB – Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, SHRP 2 is a collaborative effort of TRB, AASHTO and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Operating originally from 2006 to 2013, it is now extended to March 2015.
The SHRP 2 project focuses on 4 research areas:
Safety: to prevent or reduce the severity of highway crashes by understanding driving behaviour;
Renewal: to renew aging infrastructure through rapid design and construction methods that minimize disruption and produce long-lived facilities;
Capacity: to integrate mobility, economic, environmental and community needs into the planning and design of new highway capacity;
Reliability: to provide reliable travel times by preventing and reducing non-recurring congestion.
Drivers cause or contribute to over 90% of crashes. Therefore the goal of the Safety research area is to improve traffic safety by obtaining objective information on driver behaviour and driver interaction with the vehicle and the roadway. The project will build the Naturalistic Driving Study (NDS) and Roadway Information Databases (RID), make the data accessible to qualified researchers and use the data to study key safety issues.
SHRP 2 NDS, conducted on a national scale, is 40 times larger than any other study previously undertaken in the USA. Data were collected over 3 years involving six data collection sites in the USA, and is projected to be used for 20 years or more thereafter. The project involves 3.147 drivers making 5,4 million trips covering almost 50 million miles. SHRP 2 covers all light vehicle types (passenger cars, minivans, SUVs and pickup trucks). The data are integrated with RID so that it is known on which roads the 5,4 million trips are driven.
The NDS dataset is both very large and very complex with different data types. There are also privacy considerations relating to personally-identifying information (PII). The InSight website is a public website to support data dissemination from the SHRP 2 NDS project. The website allows a user to review data collection procedures and project background, explore data inventory, data dictionaries and download sample data. The user can also launch a query for how many drivers, vehicles or trips exists in the database that match various research criteria, or review crash, near crash, and baseline events identified and classified during the study. A researcher may want to explore younger driver issues and has questions about how NDS data could be applied. Access to the InSight website implies a user takes Institutional Review Board (IRB) training and becomes a qualified researcher and familiar with variable and data dictionaries.
For more in depth access or a custom data extract, a researcher may begin by using the InSight website to familiarizing themselves with the SHRP 2 NDS data. Then a conversation with the data steward starts, a detailed data specification is developed in collaboration with data steward and IRB approval for the project from the home institution is obtained. Furthermore the researcher will need to work with the data steward to develop a data sharing agreement and obtain a specialized non-identifying dataset or schedule time in the secure data enclave.
SHRP 2 NDS used human subject volunteers. Human subjects research is governed by international consensus and federal USA law. Subject consent forms cover subject’s knowledge of what is being collected; security of data collection, transmission, storage; and protection from subpoena. The human subjects involved in the SHRP 2 research consented to future research use of data for up to 30 years. SHRP 2 collects both identifying and non-identifying data. The latter can be more freely shared i.e. on the InSight website. For PII, “qualified researchers” will be given access under data sharing agreement and IRB review/approval. The PII must be viewed/coded in a secure data enclave.
2015 and beyond: phase 1 approach
SHRP 2 is transitioning from the research phase ending in 2014 to an implementation phase beginning in 2015. The safety implementation will begin with a 5-year Phase 1. Phase 1 of the safety implementation will continue to be managed by TRB and will focus on making the SHRP 2 data widely available and providing the necessary user support. Decisions are pending regarding the creation of primary data centres that will house and manage the data and support remote access; and the analysis centres. The remote access centres will need to be selected based on the geographic location and the proposed business model. The centres will also need to present some innovative approaches, also in terms of partnerships as it is unlikely that federal funding will fully subsidize any of the centres. The Safety Training and Analysis Center (STAC) at TFHRC (Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center) is considered as a good example to accelerate and proliferate use of the data and improve safety. The STAC is a FHWA initiative. The STAC will provide training and technical assistance for State Departments of Transport so that they can expand their knowledge of the data and its potential uses. It also provides opportunities for graduate students, fellow and post docs to gain experience working with the data and support the US DOC Research Agenda.