Rural Safety Innovation Program

For more information on the specific projects; check out the “NEW” Rural Safety Innovation Program website located on the Rural Highway Safety Clearing House website:

August 27, 2008


Of the 8.4 million lane-miles of roads in the United States, over 6 million lane-miles are rural. Almost 80 percent of rural roads are owned and operated by local entities, making the dissemination of highway safety information to local officials and the public critical to improving national rural road safety.

Rural areas face a number of unique highway safety challenges. Rural crashes are more likely to be at higher speeds than urban crashes; victims of fatal crashes in rural areas are more likely to be unbelted than their urban counterparts; and it often takes first responders longer to arrive at the scene of a rural crash, leaving victims waiting longer for medical attention. Outdated roadway design and roadside hazards such as utility poles, sharp-edged pavement drop-offs, and trees close to the roadway also are major contributors to the severity of rural crashes.

According to the latest data from NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), the fatality rate for rural crashes is more than twice the fatality rate in urban crashes. In 2006, 23,339 people were killed in rural motor vehicle crashes, accounting for 55 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities.

In response to overwhelming amount of rural crashes, On February 29, the Department announced the DOT Rural Safety Initiative.

Rural Safety Innovation Program (RSIP)

The Rural Safety Innovation Program (RSIP) is a one-time opportunity and a subset of the Rural Safety Initiative which deals with infrastructure and smart solutions for improving rural safety. The goal of the Rural Safety Innovation Program is to improve rural road safety by providing rural communities the opportunity to compete for grant funding to address pressing highway safety problems. The program will allow rural communities to develop data driven, creative, locally crafted solutions to their roadway safety problems, document their efforts and outcomes, and share the results with other communities across the country.

The primary objectives of the Rural Safety Innovation Program are to:

  • Improve safety on local and rural roads using innovative approaches in which rural communities develop and design local solutions to their roadway safety problems,
  • Provide best practices and lessons learned on innovative infrastructure safety technologies to assist local and rural road owners and operators in the development and implementation of infrastructure-based rural safety countermeasures that compliment behavioral safety efforts,
  • Promote national awareness and interest in the local and rural safety issues and,
  • Promote the use of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technologies to improve safety on local and rural roads.

The Department’s February 2008 Federal Register Notice solicited applications for funding to support qualified Rural Safety Innovation Program projects. The Rural Safety Innovation Program was geared toward entities responsible for rural roads and highways such as counties, towns, townships and tribal governments partnering with State Departments of Transportation (DOTs).

The FHWA used FY 2008 funds, drawn from available portions of the Delta Regional Transportation Development Program (Delta) as well as the U.S Department of Transportation Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) for the Rural Safety Innovation Program. The budget was roughly $15 million consisting of $9.2 M in Delta and $6 M in ITS funds.

The selection process consisted of two phases; submission of a rural safety innovation program application due April 14, 2008, followed by an invitation to submit a formal proposal in Phase II due July 7, 2008. There were 96 initial applications received from state and local governments in 28 states by the April 14, 2008 due date. The comprehensive phase II application, review and selection process was completed, and the final project selections were announced on August 27, 2008. The announcement at list the 21 projects selected in 14 states, 3 counties and 2 parishes to receive a total of $14.7 million. These projects will be monitored and their performance evaluated as they are implemented, and resulting good practices will be shared with the rural road safety community.

Delta Region Transportation Development Program: Rural Safety Innovation Program Evaluation – Final Report

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Program Contact

Rosemarie Anderson



Local Rural Road Owners Manuals

NEW Delta Region Transportation Development Program: Rural Safety Innovation Program Evaluation – Final Report

Noteworthy Practices: Addressing Safety on Locally-Owned and Maintained Roads – A Domestic Scan

Proven Safety Countermeasures

Local and Rural Roads Safety Peer-to-Peer Assistance

Implementing the High Risk Rural Roads Program

Local Roads Safety Resource CD

Maintenance of Signs and Sign Supports

Sign Retroreflectivity Toolkit

Maintenance of Drainage Features for Safety

Low-Cost Safety Enhancements for Stop-Controlled and Signalized Intersections