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New study shows crowdsourced traffic data could save lives

May 22, 2019

A new University of California, Irvine-led pilot study finds, on average, Waze "crash alerts" occur two minutes and 41 seconds prior to their corresponding California Highway Patrol (CHP)-reported crash. These minutes could mean the difference between life and death.

The paper titled, "Crowdsourced Traffic Data as an Emerging Tool to Monitor Car Crashes," was published today in JAMA Surgery.

"According to our research, it takes emergency medical service (EMS) units an average of seven to 14 minutes to arrive on scene after a 911 call," said Bharath Chakravarthy, vice chair of research and academic affairs for the UCI School of Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine and one of the researchers on the study. "Crowdsourced traffic data might help to cut that time by as much as 60 percent."

The study reports that crowdsourced data, collected by software applications like Google's Waze, are highly correlated with conventional reporting data that are often costly to collect and suffer from reporting lag-time. The ability to use crowdsourced user-generated traffic data has several immediate clinical implications for treatment and mortality rates among motor vehicle crash victims as well as for improving efficiency around emergency department operations in the United States.

"The potential is game-changing. Trauma surgeons could be notified earlier, diagnostic testing could be prioritized for crash victims, and blood and other life-saving equipment could be made available sooner," said Chakravarthy. "These pre-hospital and hospital level resources, if activated sooner, could aid in increasing quality and rapidity of patient care and potentially reduce morbidity and mortality."

Every day, more than 100 deaths and 2.5 million emergency department visits result from motor vehicle crashes, making it one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Reducing ambulance and emergency department treatment response time for crash victims could dramatically save lives.

Further research is needed on the integration of crowdsourced traffic data as a tool to monitor car crashes and reduce associated mortality, including the potential risks of implementing this approach.
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This pilot study was funded by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and National Human Genome Research Institute, and conducted in collaboration with the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and Waze/Google.

About the UCI School of Medicine: Each year, the UCI School of Medicine educates over 400 medical students, as well as 200 doctoral and master's students. More than 600 residents and fellows are trained at UC Irvine Medical Center and affiliated institutions. The School of Medicine offers an MD; a dual MD/PhD medical scientist training program; and PhDs and master's degrees in anatomy and neurobiology, biomedical sciences, genetic counseling, epidemiology, environmental health sciences, pathology, pharmacology, physiology and biophysics, and translational sciences. Medical students also may pursue an MD/MBA, an MD/master's in public health, or an MD/master's degree through one of three mission-based programs: the Health Education to Advance Leaders in Integrative Medicine (HEAL-IM), the Leadership Education to Advance Diversity-African, Black and Caribbean (LEAD-ABC), and the Program in Medical Education for the Latino Community (PRIME-LC). The UCI School of Medicine is accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Accreditation and ranks among the top 50 nationwide for research. For more information, visit som.uci.edu.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 222 degree programs. It's located in one of the world's safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County's second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit http://www.uci.edu.

University of California - Irvine

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