Traffic Safety Assessments


The primary objective of a Traffic Safety Assessment (TSA) is to improve traffic safety in a city or county. Improved local enforcement and engineering practices and programs can reduce traffic collisions that cause injury, death, and property damage. To achieve these objectives, Tech Transfer provides free Traffic Safety Assessments, in which evaluators will review your city or county's traffic safety conditions, programs, and needs, and suggest new strategies to improve local traffic safety.

Funding for this program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

How is the Traffic Safety Assessment conducted?

If an agency is selected for a TSA, Tech Transfer will assign a team of two traffic safety experts, one licensed traffic engineer and one traffic enforcement expert, to conduct the TSA.  The evaluators will begin with a thorough phone interview of local agency staff and then schedule a one-day visit to the city or county to observe traffic conditions in the field. They also review available safety data such as Statewide Integrated Traffic Reporting System (SWITRS) and Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) ranking. Based on the available collision data and discussions with city and county staff, a list of intersections and roadway segments with the highest rates of collision is proposed for the evaluation.  On the day of their site visit, the TSA team meets with key police and engineering staff to identify local issues, and then performs a site review of traffic safety conditions in the field. Following the site visit, the TSA team prepares a report presenting their findings and suggestions to improve traffic safety and traffic operations in the city or county.

Who can request a Traffic Safety Assessment?

Any agency within a city or county in California may request a Traffic Safety Assessment from Tech Transfer. However, the number of evaluations we can do each year is limited by funding from OTS. Priority is given to applicants with significant traffic safety issues based on OTS collision rankings. Communities with the highest collision rates (top ten) for their population group are given priority. Communities with populations over 25,000 that appear in the top ten lists for OTS collision rankings are given the highest priority. Agencies can review their OTS collision ranking online.

How can I request a Traffic Safety Assessment?

To learn more about Traffic Safety Assessments and to request one for your community, email A limited number of assessments are available each fiscal year, so send in your request early.

What kinds of safety issues can the assessment address?

Engineering topics that communities have asked our evaluators to address include the following:

  • High-collision intersections
  • Inadequate sight-distance
  • Speeding problems
  • Speed-limit posting
  • Red-light running
  • Need for additional traffic control devices (signals, signs, markings, striping)
  • Roadway channelization and road diet
  • Traffic circulation
  • Signal timing
  • Access management
  • Traffic calming
  • Speed surveys
  • Traffic record keeping

Enforcement topics that communities have asked our evaluators to address include the following:

  • Enforcement capabilities and improvements
  • Local enforcement resources
  • Police personnel training
  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
  • Hit-and-run collisions
  • Speeding
  • Intersection/right-of-way enforcement
  • Vehicle impounds
  • Seat belt usage
  • Resource deployment
  • Traffic record systems
  • Reporting of collision factors
  • Safety and enforcement goals
  • Public relations and education

Who performs the Traffic Safety Assessment?

Each evaluation is conducted by a team of one traffic engineer and one traffic enforcement expert, as assigned by Tech Transfer. Our team of evaluators includes:

Terry Cates is an experienced law enforcement leader with over 30 years of progressively responsible experience including all aspects of traffic safety. He retired in good standing as a Division Commander from the Vacaville Police Department. He worked a variety of assignments including, Defensive/Pursuit Driving Instructor, Motor Officer, Motor Instructor, Motor Sergeant, and was the Division Commander of the Traffic Section when he retired. Terry has investigated and supervised many investigations including collisions involving multiple fatalities. He has written and managed traffic safety grants in excess of 1.3 million dollars which were awarded by the California Office of Traffic Safety. As the Motor Sergeant he supervised over 60 DUI checkpoints. He was a member of the Solano County Safe Routes to School Program. Terry received several awards from the California Office of Traffic Safety for his traffic safety efforts. He currently sits on a State Highway Steering Committee for Motorcycle Safety.

Thomas Clausen, PE, is a registered Civil Engineer and Traffic Engineer in CA, and has a PTOE on Retired basis. He is an experienced transportation engineer with over 30 years of experience, who has worked at the senior level in several cities, Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Caltrans, and two consulting firms (Fehr & Peers and TJKM). His areas of expertise include traffic operations, signing and striping, traffic impact studies, traffic safety, and congestion management. Mr. Clausen is an ITE Fellow and past International Director representing the Western District. He is a member of ASCE. He holds a Master of Engineering Science from UC-Berkeley and a Master of Public Administration from CalState Eastbay. He has been an UC extension instructor for over 10 years.

Michelle DeRobertis, PE, is a registered civil and traffic engineer in California. She received her BS and MS degrees in Civil Engineering from UC Berkeley. Ms. DeRobertis is an experienced transportation engineer specializing in bicycle, pedestrian, and alternative transportation. She has extensive experience working as a consultant in bicycle planning and design, and was project manager for numerous major bicycle facility design studies for California cities and counties. Most recently, she worked in the public sector, first for the City of Alameda as an Associate Civil Engineer and then as a Senior Transportation Planner and Bicycle Program Manager for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority.

Nazir Lalani, PE, is the President of Traffex Engineers, Inc., a transportation consulting firm that provides consulting services to local agencies ranging from the complete responsibilities of traffic engineering functions to specialized operations such as synchronized signal systems and studies designed to improve pedestrian and bicycle facilities. Nazir is currently the Contract City Traffic Engineer for the Cities of La Quinta and Indian Wells in Southern California. In 2009, Nazir completed ten years of service with the County of Ventura, where he was the Deputy Director of the Transportation Department in charge of the Traffic and Transportation Division in the Transportation Department of the Ventura County Public Works Agency. Nazir has also held local government positions with the City of Ventura, Santa Barbara County, the City of Lakewood, Colorado, the City of Phoenix, Arizona, and the Greater London Council in England.

Dennis Smith is a retired police sergeant who served the City of Glendale Police Department, for more than three decades. He served in various roles such as Police Motor Sergeant, Police Investigator, and Police Agent, in Traffic Bureau, Field Services Division, and Detective Bureau of the Department. Mr. Smith authored numerous traffic safety grants that were submitted to the California Office of Traffic Safety, resulting in awarded grants that exceeded one million dollars. He has supervised numerous investigations involving traffic fatalities and/or serious injuries and managed the department’s red-light camera program. As a member of the Safe-Routes-To-Schools committee with Glendale Unified School District, he helped to identify schools in need of infrastructure and traffic safety improvements.

John Turner retired from the Ventura Police Department as a Sergeant with 30 years of service. He supervised motor officers and the collision investigation units for 22 years. He was the designated expert for the city attorney on collision related claims and he served on the city's Traffic Safety Board and Collision Review Committee. He has extensive experience in traffic enforcement, collision investigation, and innovative traffic safety programs. He has worked as a police officer in Santa Barbara, as a collision reconstructionist, and had testified as an expert in Vehicle Code application in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Texas, including in front of Senate Committees. He has won numerous awards for police work since 1984. He was the Principal at his own company, Turner Accident Reconstruction, and currently is a National Account Director for Redflex Traffic Systems Inc.

What have other agencies said about their Traffic Safety Assessments?

"The evaluators were very professional. They met the city personnel and listened to our issues. They responded accordingly and did not present any information which was non-relevant. Their report was presented in an efficient format."

"The team did a great job in first understanding what the city's main areas of concern were. Once they had a list of areas, they went out and evaluated the locations. Their comments provided us with an additional perspective on areas that we could improve in order to increase safety. Overall, they exceeded our expectations."

"My overall perception of the work performed by the TSA team is one of great satisfaction. Their report was very thorough and addressed the traffic safety concerns we had."