Hazardous Materials Serious Crash Analysis:
First Phase Final Report
3.0 Description of Serious Crash Database
3.1 Database Description
As described in Section 2, several database users and managers suggested an augmentation of the current information contained in HMIS and MCMIS. In response to this suggestion, the Battelle team developed a relational electronic database form capable of capturing information attributes thought to be essential for developing an improved description of serious HM truck crashes. Since all the records being augmented were in HMIS and/or MCMIS, the effort began by importing pertinent records from those databases using a series of queries. The forms were then used to manually input supplemental data obtained from the PARs and from phone calls to the carrier or other key persons involved in the crash. What follows is a description of the database form design and use.
The starting screen presents the user with several options (see Figure 3-1). The "Crash Notification" button initiates data entry for a crash. "UN Number" allows the user to change the two-digit class and division code for a given UN number. "Commodity" enables the user to enter or change the definition of a particular commodity, the two digit HM code, UN number, short and long name, the reportable quantity (RQ) limit or if the material is "poisonous by inhalation." The basis for this information is the Hazardous Materials Table presented in 49 CFR 172.101. "Package" allows the user to enter the name and description of a package that was used for transporting HM before the crash (e.g., MC 307 cargo tank for transporting gasoline). "DOT Number" permits the user to enter a carrier's DOT number, address, phone number, or fax number into the database. [Note: One of the first activities performed when the database was being initialized was to enter the information for about 40,000 carriers; this task was performed so that when information from a PAR is entered, the carrier information in the
Figure 3-1. Main Database Entry Screen
for the Serious Crash Database
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PAR need only be checked to ensure that it is current]. "Agency" permits the user to enter the name of the agency providing the crash information and "Accident Record Status" summarizes the completeness of the record.
The buttons shown in Figure 3-1 provide a means of entering standard information about the commodity being shipped and the carrier. When a new crash is being entered, these buttons provide a means of checking to ensure that the carrier is listed by DOT number and the commodity and packaging information are already in the database. If they are not shown, these items can be entered with this screen if the carrier and hazardous material screens are populated.
Of the options presented in Figure 3-1, only the "Crash Notification" selection prompts several additional screens required to fully describe the crash sequence and associated details. When the "Crash Notification" button is pressed, the screen shown in Figure 3-2 pops up. Any fields that have been pre-populated using queries of MCMIS and HMIS reports will appear filled as the screens pop up.
Most of the fields shown in Figure 3-2 are self-explanatory. "Crash Key" is the MCMIS report number. The notification information fields were designed for use by DOT personnel, but were not populated as part of the Phase I data collection effort. If the crash appeared in the HMIS database, the remarks from the HMIS record are provided in the "Description" field. Otherwise, the descriptions were obtained from the PAR, if available. At the bottom of the screen shown in Figure 3-2, there are a series of navigation buttons that enable the user to move from one record to another. Delete, print and exit options are also provided. When the print button is selected, a complete report for that crash is created and sent to the printer.
Seven additional tabs are located at the top of the "Crash Notification" screen. When any of these tabs is selected, an additional data entry screen is displayed. Some have sub-screens. The following discussion provides more detail on these features.
Figure 3-3 shows the information contained on the location screen. For many of the entries shown, a drop-down pick list is provided. For example, once the abbreviation of the state is selected, the county selection is made from among the counties associated with that state. Similarly, the selected place is populated from the list of places under the selected state. The county and place pick lists are based on the U.S. Bureau of the Census FIPS listings.
Many of the remaining entries are also made from pre-selected lists. In almost all cases, these lists coincide with eligible entries for that field in MCMIS. As a result, a more consistent and accurate database is realized.
There are some fields, particularly those associated with the crash location, that are not associated with pick lists. In addition, the longitude and latitude coordinates were not always populated; utilizing GIS to complete these fields was not pursued as part of Phase I.
Figure 3-2. Crash Summary Screen
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Figure 3-3. Crash Location Screen Information
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Figure 3-4 provides additional detail information. The drop-down lists are based on standard terminology used in MCMIS. The "Event Details" provide an opportunity to include additional information that was not included in the accident description field on the Crash screen. The intent is that the information on this screen would focus more on crash sequences and causes.
Figure 3-4. Crash Details Data Entry Screen
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Information about the responding agency appears in Figure 3-5. These entries are considered informative, but optional. For Phase I, if the information could not be obtained from the PAR, no effort was made to contact the reporting or the responding agency.
Figure 3-5. Agency Response Information Captured by the Database
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Figure 3-6 represents the first of several screens intended to capture data for each vehicle involved in the crash. If there were three vehicles involved in a single crash, then this screen would be filled out for each vehicle. For each vehicle, there are additional screens for entering carrier, driver, HM information, and whether or not the vehicle was involved in a fire or explosion as a result of the crash.
For each vehicle, the first entry is the vehicle number. This is normally the number assigned to the vehicle in the PAR. The next entry is the designation of the vehicle, normally taken from the PAR. The configuration, impact location, obstructed vision, and cargo body type are all selected from pick lists. Estimated vehicle speed, gross weight, number of axles and trailer description are also entered, predominately from information contained in the PAR.
Figure 3-6. Information on Vehicles Involved in the Crash
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If there is something noteworthy about the vehicle configuration or the vehicle's non-HM cargo as listed in the PAR, it can be entered as part of the vehicle description as well.
If the carrier was one of the 40,000 carriers entered initially into the database or if the carrier information was entered as part of another crash, then all of the information shown in Figure 3-7 will be displayed when the DOT number is entered. If the information is different from the carrier information entered for another crash, and the user wants to capture the information, then the "New DOT" button must be clicked and the new information subsequently entered.
Figure 3-7. Carrier Information
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The driver information shown in Figure 3-8 is just for the driver associated with the carrier and vehicle that were described on the previous entry screens. Normally there would just be one driver. However, if there is a co-driver that was not driving at the time of the crash, then information on that individual can be entered on a separate screen. Frequently, the PAR will not provide all of the information shown in Figure 3-8. Since much of the missing information is thought to be useful, but not essential, no attempt was made in Phase I to obtain this information from other sources.
Figure 3-8. Driver Information
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Figure 3-9 is the first of a series of screens that describe the hazardous material being transported by the carrier involved in the crash. The upper part of the screen describes the hazardous material being shipped. In most cases, this information will already be part of the list of hazardous materials entered initially in the database. If not, by clicking the "Add Hazardous Material" button, a new material can be added.
One of the key pieces of information contained on the Hazmat screen is the quantity shipped. Neither MCMIS nor HMIS capture this information. Consequently, the effectiveness of the packaging to resist spillage cannot be determined. An effort was made to obtain this information for the majority of crashes in the Phase I sample.
The bottom part of Figure 3-9 displays the first of several package screens, one that focuses on package type. Additional screens can be brought up concerning the behavior of the package in the crash environment. The Actions, Objects, How, Area and What tabs capture all of the container damage fields in the HMIS database. They are shown in Figures 3-10 through 3-14, respectively. The entries correspond exactly to the container fields in HMIS and multiple responses are permitted.
Figure 3-9. Hazardous Material and Shipping Package Description
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Figure 3-10. Action Entries under the Package Behavior Screen
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Figure 3-11. Object Entries under Package Behavior Screen
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Figure 3-12. How Package Failed under Package Behavior Screen
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Figure 3-13. Areas Failed Entries under Package Behavior Screen
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Figure 3-14. Failed Components under Package Behavior Screen
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The final data screen, as shown in Figure 3-15, is devoted to fire and explosion information. Beyond whether these events occurred, room is provided for a narrative containing additional details of the crash.
Figure 3-15. Fire and Explosion Information under Vehicle Screen
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3.2 Summary of Database Results
A description of the structure of the Serious HM Crash Database has been presented in
Section 3.1. Actual design of this database evolved over several months and reflects the comments of a number of HM transportation stakeholders. Through the process, a consensus emerged that the Serious HM Crash Database has the potential to provide a comprehensive, user-friendly tool for compiling and analyzing information on HM serious crashes.