UGA College of Public Health receives renewal grant to evaluate programs designed to make Georgia roads safer

Athens, Ga. – For the sixth consecutive year, researchers from the University of Georgia College of Public Health’s department of health promotion and behavior will evaluate the effectiveness of law enforcement-focused educational programs designed to reduce morbidity and mortality on Georgia roads.

Led by principal investigator and faculty member Carol Cotton, the Traffic Safety Research and Evaluation Group will systematically review and analyze grantee effectiveness and ultimately determine the overall efficiency of the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety in managing hundreds of grantees. The $307,400 grant, recently received from GOHS, brings the total grant award to TSREG to $2.1 million for this ongoing project.

The GOHS grantees, including law enforcement organizations, design educational 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 that organizes and evaluates critical information. The database includes qualitative and quantitative information that is collected through field reports and on-site visits and used to answer such critical questions as: Is this traffic safety program working? How well is it working? Why is it working?

The team also will evaluate an innovative regional data collection initiative, provide technical assistance to GOHS grantees, evaluate surveys of Georgia drivers’ knowledge and attitudes about GOHS initiatives, and evaluate the GOHS annual statewide seat belt survey.

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.

Cotton has extensive experience in implementing and conducting educational program evaluations. She 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.

“Georgia’s roadways continue to pose a danger to the safety of our citizens,” said Cotton. “Only through continuous monitoring, planning, implementing and evaluation of traffic safety programs, in conjunction with engineering, enforcement and education, can lives be saved.”

Other team members include James Barlament, research professional III; Laurel Loftin, research professional I; Whittney Clark, administrative assistant; and Sarah Shelnutt and Courtnee Edgerston, research assistants.

Posted March 7, 2005.