HPB researchers receive grant from Governor’s Office of Highway Safety

Researchers from the University of Georgia College of Public Health’s Department of Health Promotion and Behavior received a one year, $308,800 grant from the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) to evaluate the effectiveness of educational and law enforcement-focused programs.

For the tenth straight year, the Traffic Safety Research and Evaluation Group (TSREG) led by principal investigator Dr. Carol Cotton will systematically review and analyze grantee effectiveness and, ultimately, determine the overall effectiveness of GOHS in managing hundreds of grantees. To date, TSREG received $3.2 million in grant money from GOHS for this ongoing project.

The GOHS grantees, including law enforcement organizations and highway safety educational programs design programs to reduce morbidity and mortality on Georgia roadways. In order to make these programs more data-driven, TSREG reviews all grants by employing a comprehensive database to organize and evaluate critical data. The system created by the evaluation team includes qualitative and quantitative data that answers impact and process questions, requiring an analysis of field reports, expertise with statistics sources, and on-site visits.

“As resources continue to tighten, it becomes more important to evaluate the impact of traffic safety programs across the state to ensure the most beneficial effect on the lives of all Georgians,” Cotton said. “The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety has been at the forefront of program evaluation for many years and this project is integral to reducing deaths, injuries and crashes on Georgia’s highways.”

Cotton’s team will also evaluate implementation of the texting while driving law; provide technical assistance to GOHS grantees; evaluate surveys of Georgia driver’s knowledge of and attitudes about GOHS initiatives; and evaluate the GOHS annual statewide seat belt survey.

The vital governmental agency, GOHS, is charged with educating the public on traffic safety issues and facilitating the implementation of programs that reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities on Georgia roadways. Projects include Operation Zero Tolerance, Click It or Ticket, and 100 Days of Summer HEAT (Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic). Educational efforts include passenger safety, distracted driving, impaired driving, pedestrian and bicycle initiatives.

Cotton has extensive experience in implementing and conducting educational program evaluations. Cotton is known throughout the state for her work in the area of administrative license suspensions, throughout the Southeast for her work as a data contractor with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, across the nation for her co-authorship of the “Safe Communities Data Toolkit,” and worldwide for her work on the Rural Roads Initiative’s Regional Community Liaison Pilot Project.

Read the press release at UGA News Services.  Coverage also available in the ASPPH Friday Newsletter, Columns.

– Rebecca Ayer

Posted on February 4, 2014.