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FHWA Home / Safety / Intersection / Strategic Intersection Safety Program Guide

Strategic Intersection Safety Program Guide

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Publication No. FHWA-SA-09-004

FHWA Contact: Lawrence J. Brown, HSSD, 202-366-2214

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1. Introduction

Purpose

Figure 1 presents a pie chart illustrating the distribution of intersection fatal crashes.  Intersection fatal crashes represent 22 percent of all fatal crashes.  Fourteen percent of fatal crashes occur at unsignalized intersections, eight percent occur at signalized intersections, and seventy-eight percent are non-intersection crashes.
Figure 1. Distribution of Intersection Fatal Crashes
Intersections are a small portion of the highway system, but have a relatively high number of crashes.
  • 39% of total crashes
    • 52% at unsignalized intersections
    • 48% at signalized intersections
  • 27% of total fatalities
  • 22% of total fatal crashes
  • 23% of total serious injuries
(GES 2006, FARS 2007)
The Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), described in 23 USC Section 148, is a Federal-aid program that provides funding for infrastructure-related safety improvements that correct or improve a hazardous road location or feature, or address a highway safety problem.

Strategic Highway Safety Plans (SHSPs), which are a requirement of the HSIP, are statewide-coordinated safety plans that provide a comprehensive framework, and specific goals and objectives, for reducing highway fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads.

Intersection safety is an important element in most States' SHSPs.

The purpose of this Strategic Intersection Safety Program Guide is to provide assistance in planning, developing, implementing, and maintaining an intersection safety program for State and local agencies responsible for intersection safety. This guide describes, and lists reference materials for, a strategic process involving:

This guide can be useful for developing a strategic intersection safety program for any State or local highway agency. In particular, this guide follows a process and framework that can be used to develop and implement a Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) and to prioritize projects in a Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) (see side bar). The guide contains specific information for planning intersection safety improvements, which are often included in an Intersection Safety Emphasis Area within an SHSP or local intersection safety program.

This guide is a tool for State or local highway agency personnel who are responsible for improving safety at intersections, such as highway planners and managers involved with traffic operations, safety, and engineering; emergency medical services; law enforcement; and highway safety educators and advocates. It is applicable, and scalable, to any size and type of highway jurisdiction desiring to improve intersection safety.

Scope

The scope of this guide includes intersections in urban, suburban, and rural areas, with or without traffic control signals. The various road user types at intersections, including motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists, are all considered in the guide's strategic process because of their importance to intersection safety.

Figure 2 consists of two photos.  The left photo shows two helmeted bicyclists riding across an intersection in front of traffic stopped at the signal.  The right photo shows two pedestrians crossing a signalized intersection in a marked crosswalk.
Photo above is used with permission of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Figure 2. Bicycles and Pedestrians Crossing Intersections

In this guide, the term intersection is used in a general sense to encompass both the area within the curbline limits of the intersecting roads and the intersection approaches. Countermeasures used to improve intersection safety may apply to either or both of these areas. In other safety reports, crashes that occur within the curbline limits of the intersection are often called intersection crashes, while those that occur on the intersection approaches (usually within 250 feet of the intersection) are called intersection-related crashes. Both categories of crashes are critical to determining intersection safety needs and should be considered when prioritizing needs and assessing potential strategies and countermeasures.

An intersection improvement strategy is a treatment or method for improving safety at intersections. Each strategy may address a particular safety need or a particular intersection feature, and typically includes one or more countermeasures that can be implemented to improve safety.An intersection countermeasure is a specific improvement made or action taken at an intersection to reduce the crashes of a target crash type or at a particular type of intersection.
  • Engineering countermeasures involve a physical improvement such as a change in intersection type, geometry or traffic control or other physical improvement that may support non-engineering countermeasures.
  • Non-engineering countermeasures may include targeted enforcement, educational campaigns, or emergency medical services (EMS) coordination.
Intersection safety projects:
  • Implement strategies and countermeasures at specific intersections, or across a group of intersections of a certain type or with a common need
  • Provide individual or coordinated engineering and/or non-engineering strategies and countermeasures
  • Provide the needed resources, such as funding and administrative authority, to implement improvement strategies and countermeasures

Figure 3 shows a four-leg signalized intersection.  Both of the intersecting roadways are four-lane arterials; one of the roadways has a raised median.
Figure 3. Signalized Intersection

Driveways and other access points on a road are essentially small intersections, and many of the intersection countermeasures discussed in this guide may apply to them.The guide does not address interchanges, highway-rail grade crossings, or trail crossings; however, the guide may be applicable to intersections within, adjacent to, and affected by these highway features. Examples include intersections on interchange ramps, traffic signals modified for adjacent highway-rail crossings and/or light-rail crossings, and intersections adjacent to trails and multi-use paths.

An intersection improvement strategy is a treatment or method for improving safety at intersections. Each strategy may address a particular safety need or a particular intersection feature, and typically includes one or more countermeasures that can be implemented to improve safety.An intersection countermeasure is a specific improvement made or action taken at an intersection to reduce the crashes of a target crash type or at a particular type of intersection.

Intersection safety projects:
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Page last modified on September 4, 2014.
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