Examining the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) Drug Data Collection

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) collects a nationwide census through the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) to provide yearly data regarding fatal injuries suffered in motor vehicle traffic crashes. FARS is a model for other countries as they seek to improve their traffic safety data systems as well the cornerstone of the agency's problem identification for alcohol-positive driving. However, the data on drug-positive drivers involved in fatal crashes is still evolving and is not as robust as for alcohol. In "Understanding the limitations of drug test information, reporting, and testing practices in fatal crashes," Berning and Smither (2014, DOT HS 812 072) discussed limitations with drug data in FARS including lack of consistent policies and procedures across States, across jurisdictions within States, and even across testing labs with the same jurisdiction. NHTSA has been working to strengthen reporting of drug-positive driving; however, a critical first step is learning more about how States obtain and record drug prevalence data from drivers in fatal crashes, and how States’ FARS analysts receive drug data and interpret or extract key information to enter into the national database. The objective of this project is to document the drug data collection process involved in FARS, identify challenges of obtaining and correctly reporting data, and propose potential solutions. The resulting information will allow States to improve the source material available to FARS analysts and will allow NHTSA to improve standardization of some drug-related variables. It will also allow stakeholders to understand the complexity of the process for obtaining and recording drug information, and reasons for the time frame required for input of accurate data. By increasing the accuracy of information on drug-positive driving, NHTSA will be able to better inform both national- and state-level policy on impaired driving.


    • English


    • Status: Active
    • Funding: $633623
    • Contract Numbers:



    • Sponsor Organizations:

      National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

      1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
      Washington, D.C.  United States  20590
    • Managing Organizations:

      National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

      1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
      Washington, D.C.  United States  20590
    • Project Managers:

      Berning, Amy

    • Performing Organizations:

      Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

      Office of Sponsored Programs
      North End Center, Suite 4200, 300 Turner Street NW (MC 0170)
      Blacksburg, VA  United States  24061
    • Principal Investigators:

      Berning, Amy

    • Start Date: 20170929
    • Expected Completion Date: 20220000
    • Actual Completion Date: 0
    • USDOT Program: Behavioral Safety Research
    • Subprogram: Drug Impaired Driving

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01653765
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
    • Contract Numbers: DTNH2217F00199, DTNH2217D00043
    • Files: RIP, USDOT
    • Created Date: Dec 15 2017 4:44PM