In January 2008, the National Center, through additional funding from the Federal Highway Administration, launched a comprehensive research program that uses the tracking system and standardized forms to develop a nationwide data set. The data set will be used to help determine the impact of SRTS programs. Findings are intended to inform local SRTS programs and decision makers at the local, state and national levels. The following are descriptions of all of the components of the research and evaluation program.
Understanding safety outcomes is an important element of evaluating the SRTS program. The National Center will use a comprehensive database of exposure data, local program details, large-scale state and national crash databases, and advanced analytical techniques to develop and implement a process to monitor, document, and measure potential safety outcomes from SRTS programs.
To support responsible use of resources and selection of strategies that will improve walking and bicycling conditions or encourage use of existing facilities, the National Center will use an expert panel to select specific strategies for evaluation. Using the Tracking Database, programs using strategies of interest will be identified for further study. Similarly, the panel may decide to identify effective strategies for reaching specific populations such as those served by tribal schools or low income communities.
Engineers and other local transportation professionals have requested a tool to assist with the identification and prioritization of infrastructure improvement needs along school routes. The National Center will oversee a technical expert group in the review of existing instruments, testing and final development of a safety index to meet this need.
The SRTS Guide includes a module funded by NHTSA that describes steps and provides a worksheet to guide local programs in how they can evaluate their SRTS program efforts. A web-based training created by the National Center instructs local SRTS programs in data collection methods and program planning.
Each year the National Center conducts a self evaluation using several mechanisms for obtaining feedback and recommendations. This past year the National Center used three sources of information: a usability study of our main web site www.saferoutesinfo.org; a survey and discussion with State Coordinators as part of their annual meeting; and our annual survey of Walk to School Day event coordinators.