Background Police crash reports have been used to advance motor vehicle safety research, though their value is limited by their focus on the crash event rather than outcomes of the crash.
Objective To develop and evaluate the effect of enhanced recruitment methods, including a monetary incentive, on response rates of drivers identified on police reports in a national MVC surveillance system.
Methods The National Automotive Sampling System-General Estimates System (NASS-GES) was used to identify passenger vehicle crashes between 1 July and 30 October 2012 involving drivers ≥16 years old with at least one child occupant ≤17 years old. We collected data from the driver via self-administered hardcopy or interviewer-administered telephone surveys. Within each survey mode, half the drivers were randomly assigned to receive a small monetary incentive. Response rates were calculated overall, and by mode of survey administration and incentive condition.
Results 495 drivers were eligible, and 127 completed the survey, yielding an overall response rate of 25.7% (95% CI 21.8% to 29.5%). The response rate across the two modes was higher for those who received an incentive than for those who did not (35.6% vs 15.7%, p<0.01). The highest response rate (45.9%) was for drivers allocated to the telephone survey who received an incentive.
Conclusions The NASS-GES provides a surveillance system from which cases of interest can be identified and supplemental data collected via surveys of drivers identified on police reports. We adapted procedures commonly used in public health surveillance systems, including monetary incentives and branded recruitment materials, to improve driver response rates.
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