A vision of safer roads in America with zero deaths brings multiple agencies and organizations together to create a “toolbox” to address safety issues using the concept of the “4 E’s” of safety. (engineering, education, enforcement and emergency medical services).
Over the years, The American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) has shown that the installation or upgrade of roadway safety features can provide immediate and substantial safety benefits which will contribute to safer roads in America.
- In Mendocino County, California, the number of crashes plummeted 42 percent while fatalities fell 61 percent following aggressive sign installation programs. The total program cost $79,260 however accident cost savings were over $12 million.
- The City of Redmond, Washington installed 13 in-street pedestrian crossing signs at crosswalks on roadways with speeds at or under 30 mph. Before the sign installation, driver-stopping compliance ranged from 19 – 67 percent. After installation, the conformity ratio ranged from 68 – 98 percent.
In 2005, Americans traveled almost 3 billion miles. People speed, talk on cell phones, eat and even read while driving. ATSSA worked closely with Congress and the Administration to make roadway safety a key feature in the legislation:
The issues are:
- Highway Safety Improvement (HSIP)
- Strategic Highway Safety Plans
- Work Zone Safety
- High-risk Rural Roads
- Roadway Hardware
- Brightness and visibility of signage and markings
- Older drivers
- Congestion mitigation
- Funding Roadway safety
- Funding the Highway Trust Fund
Additional recommendations from the study were:
Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP)
The focal point should be on effective low-cost roadway safety improvements:
- Intersection safety improvements.
- Providing it does not affect the safety or mobility of bicyclists, pedestrians and the disabled, rumble strips or other warning device should be installed.
- Safety devices which are for the benefit of pedestrians, bicyclists and the disabled.
- The elimination of hazards at railway-highway crossings.
- Construction of a traffic calming feature.
- Elimination of a roadside obstacle or the shielding thereof, if it cannot be removed.
- Improvement of highway signage and pavement markings.
- Installation of a priority control system for emergency vehicles at signalized intersections.
- Installation of a traffic control or other warning device at a location with high accident potential.
- Safety – conscious planning.
- Improvement in the collection and analysis of crash data.
- Operational or traffic enforcement activities relating to work zone safety.
- Installation of guardrails, barriers and crash attenuators
- Installation of barriers between construction work zones and traffic lanes for the safety of motorists and workers.
- The addition or retrofitting of structures to eliminate or reduce accidents involving vehicles and wildlife.
- Installation and maintenance of signs (including Fluorescent Yellow-Green signs) at pedestrian level crossings and in school zones.
- Projects and activities eligible for funding under the HRRR program (High Risk Rural Roads program)
- Installation of a skid-resistant surface at an intersection, horizontal curve, or other location with a high frequency of accidents.
- Roadway safety training for traffic control technicians, traffic control supervisors, pavement marking technicians and supervisors and inspectors and guardrail installation supervisors and inspectors.
Strategic Highway Safety Plans
The U. S. Road Assessment Program (usRAP) provides a new approach to organising highway safety information. The primary tool for the usRAP is the “Risk Map”. These maps illustrate the safety performance. usRAP has established a risk mapping protocol to help highway agencies understand variations in the level of crash risk across their road network. usRAP risk maps help users see which roads have the highest and lowest risk of fatal and serious injury crashes and can provide a useful tool to help highway agencies in setting safety improvement priorities.
Work Zone Safety
With many highways and bridges at or near end of their useful life, system preservation (resurfacing, restoration, rehabilitation, reconstruction) has become critical and roadway work zones are likely to be more prevalent in the future. Work zones impact the safety and mobility of the travelling public, businesses, highway workers and transportation agencies. Unsafe work zones can result in the loss of life, the loss of productivity and a growing frustration on the part of the motoring public.
Maintenance and reconstruction activities on our nation’s highways are increasingly taking place while traffic is being maintained and at night. This results in an increased risk of injury or death for highway workers who already suffer a fatality rate that is more than double that of other construction workers.
Whether it is dealing with hazards as common as working within inches of motorists travelling at high speeds or as rare as finding what could be a pipe bomb, perhaps no occupational setting has more diverse and complex set of perilous situations than highway work zones.
High Risk Rural Roads
Rural roads are the most dangerous roads in America. NHTSA reports that nationwide, for the years 2000 through 2007, rural traffic fatality rates were more than twice that of urban areas. According to the FHWA, crashes on rural roads tend to be more severe for a number of reasons:
Rural collectors and local roads tend to lack features such as paved shoulders, clear zones and divided directions of travel. Rural roads tend to have higher average vehicle speeds, partially due to relatively low volumes. Data indicates there is typically more alcohol involvement in fatal crashes, and, in addition, rural areas have lower safety belt usage. When a crash does occur, medical facilities tend to be at greater distances and, as a result, crash victims have longer wait times for medical treatment.
NHTSA reported that in 2009, among all crashes that occurred on rural roadways, 80.6% of them were run-off-the-road crashes. Contributing factors include curved roads, high speed limit roads, fewer lanes, young drivers, speeding, alcohol use, driver performance related factors (sleepiness, inattentiveness, over-correction, crash-avoiding), and adverse weather conditions.
Edge drop-offs on High Risk Rural Roads
An estimated 11,000 Americans suffer injuries and 160 die each year in crashes related to unsafe pavement edges, at a cost of $1.2 billion. An edge drop-off of four or more inches is considered unsafe if the roadway is at a 90 degree angle to the shoulder surface. Near vertical edge drop-offs of less than four inches are still considered a safety hazard to the driving public and may cause difficulty upon re-entry to the paved surface. A low cost countermeasure to improve edge drop-offs is high visibility striping with raised profile that give audible alerts to errant drivers while also improving wet and/or night visibility which will contribute to safer roads in America.