Traffic Records Needs of Local Governments in Virginia

Report No: 75-R63

Published in 1975

About the report:

The state of Virginia has a unilateral traffic records system whereby localities are compelled by law to provide law enforcement information to the state without any assurance that usable information will be returned to the localities. This situation has forced localities to develop and maintain their own traffic records systems to satisfy state reporting requirements and meet the localities' operation, evaluation and planning needs. While the localities' roadway systems account for only 17% of the total state mileage, they also account for 35% of the travel, 52% of the reported accidents, 23% of the persons killed, 44% of the persons injured, 54% of the property damage accidents, and 27% of the economic loss due to traffic accidents. The typical traffic records system employed by Virginia localities is similar to the "Standard City Traffic Accident Reporting System" actively promoted for many years by the National Safety Council with modifications to satisfy the particular characteristics of the individual locality. The small communities make use of the standard system with certain tasks deleted because of the lack of demand. In the medium size communities, the standard system incorporates minor modifications to accommodate the specific characteristics of the community. The large communities exhibit the standard system as the basic structure or skeleton for their computer automated tasks. Thus, the primary elements of the standard system are evident in the small local traffic records systems as well as the large complex local systems. The basic informational needs of local agencies from a traffic records system are similar to those of their counterparts on the state level. The needs of local police departments are analogous to those of the Department of State Police and the needs of local engineering departments are analogous to those of the Department of Highways and Transportation. The necessity of these informational needs has been expressed by localities for many years through the establishment and maintenance of local traffic records systems. However, the performance of these local systems is limited to the percentage of traffic accidents occurring in the community which are reported by the local police department and to the manpower resources available within the localities. In 1973 local police departments reported only 76% of the accidents reported to the state for cities and 68% of the accidents reported to the state for counties of population 50,000 and greater. Hence, it appears that local authorities are not aware of 24% of the reported accidents in cities and of 32% of the reported accidents in counties of population 50,000 and greater.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


  • Frank N. Lisle

Last updated: February 5, 2024

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