U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in this document.
The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers' names appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document.
Quality Assurance Statement
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides high-quality information to serve Government, industry, and the public in a manner that promotes public understanding. Standards and policies are used to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of its information. FHWA periodically reviews quality issues and adjusts its programs and processes to ensure continuous quality improvement.
1. Report No. FHWA
2. Government Accession No.
3. Recipient’s Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle
Safety Circuit Rider Programs Best Practices Guide
5. Report Date
6. Performing Organization Code
Frank Gross, Dan Nabors, Ronald Eck, and Mark Hood
8. Performing Organization Report No.
9. Performing Organization Name and Address
10. Work Unit No.
Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc
8300 Boone Boulevard, Suite 700
Vienna, VA 22182-2626
11. Contract or Grant No.
12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address
Federal Highway Administration Office of Safety
13. Type of Report and Period Covered
14. Sponsoring Agency Code
15. Supplementary Notes:
The contract manager for this report was Karen Timpone (FHWA Office of Safety). Dan Nabors (VHB) was the Principal Investigator. John Dewar (FHWA) reviewed the Guide and provided valuable feedback. Sandra Guerrero (VHB) along with Michelle Scism (VHB) performed the document design and layout and Vicki Glenn provided editing.
This Guide is intended to provide state departments of transportation (DOT) and LTAP/TTAP centers with an easy-to-use resource for implementing or enhancing a Safety Circuit Rider (SCR) program. The Guide includes common characteristics of existing SCR programs and the safety circuit riders. The Guide also includes information on the typical duties and services provided by SCR programs, lessons learned by existing programs, and evidence of the effectiveness of existing SCR programs.
17. Key Words
Safety circuit rider, safety, local technical assistance program (LTAP), local road agencies, training, technical assistance, technology transfer
18. Distribution Statement
19. Security Classif. (of this report)
20. Security Classif. (of this page)
21. No. of Pages:
Form DOT F 1700.7 (8-72) Reproduction of completed pages authorized
The project team gratefully acknowledges the contributions and insights provided by the following safety professionals and Safety Circuit Rider program staff:
Local agencies own and operate more than 75 percent of all public roadways in the United States and nearly 80 percent of rural roads. Of the 42,000-plus annual fatalities on the Nation's roadways each year, more than 60 percent occur on our rural roads, which carry less than 40 percent of the total vehicle-miles traveled. To make significant progress in reducing the number of crashes and fatalities nationally, the safety on local roadways needs to improve. This is the primary goal of the Safety Circuit Rider (SCR) program.
The SCR program is designed to provide safety-related information, training, and support to agencies responsible for local roadway safety. While the primary focus is on local roads, and therefore local agencies, SCR support can also assist Local and Tribal Technical Assistance Program (LTAP/TTAP) Centers, State and local transportation agencies, universities, and safety interest groups, all of which can play a significant role in improving road safety. SCR programs can take many forms including technical assistance, training, and technology transfer. In that sense, SCR programs are similar to the LTAP/TTAP Centers; however, the difference is the SCR activities focus on safety. Providing this onsite, safety-related support meets two needs. First, safety on locally maintained roads is a significant issue nationwide. Second, many local agencies lack the resources or technical expertise to properly identify, diagnose, and treat traffic safety problems.
In 2005, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Safety identified an opportunity to enhance safety services through LTAP Centers by funding safety circuit rider positions at three LTAP Centers (Florida, Kentucky, and West Virginia) and one TTAP Center (Northern Plains). Grants were awarded through competitive process. This initiative was a pilot program developed with assistance from the FHWA Office of Federal Lands Highway. The purpose of this pilot study was to assess the feasibility and usefulness of a SCR program. The program was continued for the three LTAP Centers in 2006; in addition, several States have developed their own programs.
The FHWA developed this Guide to provide State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) and LTAP/TTAP Centers with a resource for implementing or enhancing a SCR program. The most important feature of this Guide is that there is no one right way to create a SCR program—there is only the right way for your State.
The Guide focuses on examples of two groups of programs: 1) existing SCR programs, and 2) existing programs that provide services similar to an SCR but which are not technically known as a SCR program. For the purpose of this report, the term SCR program includes both groups and the focus includes:
Information in this Guide is the result of discussions with staff representing both pilot and established SCR programs.
The Guide emphasizes the importance of safety circuit riders developing and maintaining collaborative partnerships with LTAP/TTAP Centers, State and local transportation agencies, universities, and safety interest groups to improve local road safety.
The Guide has four chapters, each focusing on a different element of the SCR program most relevant to program initiation and enhancement. Each chapter integrates case study examples of existing SCR programs in the United States. Due to the overlapping nature of many topics and to provide flexibility in the use of this Guide, the chapters are not mutually exclusive (i.e., information may be presented in more than one chapter if it is relevant to the topic).
Safety Circuit Rider (SCR) programs are established for a variety of reasons, but the main goal is typically the same: reduce the frequency and severity of roadway crashes by providing safety-related support to agencies responsible for local road safety. While SCR support is not limited to local agencies, local agencies are typically the focus of the SCR because they are more likely than State agencies to need safety-related assistance. Too often, local agency personnel lack formal training or expertise in road safety. For example, few local road agencies have a designated engineer, where State agencies usually have a designated roadway safety engineer. Additionally, local agencies operate with smaller staffs and more limited resources than State agencies. Access to a SCR is an opportunity to enhance available resources of local agencies (e.g., safety-related knowledge and tools), as well as provide additional staff.
As the focus is on technical assistance and training for those responsible for local roads, the SCR program fits well within existing Local Technical Assistance Program and Tribal Technical Assistance Program (LTAP/TTAP) Centers. In fact, some LTAP Centers have been providing this type of onsite assistance for several years, well before the FHWA funded the pilot SCR programs in 2005. LTAP Centers are not the only option for establishing a SCR program; some States house their SCR program within the State DOT or a university research center.
Before establishing a SCR program, first identify whether there is the demand and the support for the service. It will be difficult to establish a program without both. The need to improve safety on local roads is evidenced by the overwhelming number of crashes occurring on local roads each year. The demand is the need for safety-related technical assistance and training to improve safety, which comes from State and local agencies. Initially, this demand can be measured by interviews or surveys of State and local agencies; however, it may be necessary to conduct a needs analysis because it may be difficult for State and local agencies to gauge what they do and do not know. Figure 1 provides a sample needs analysis survey.
There are other measures to help gauge the level of demand for SCR services as well. One measure is the number of safety-related requests to LTAP/TTAP Centers. LTAP/TTAP Centers provide more than just safety-related support to local agencies. If the demand for safety-related support is great, it may be appropriate to establish a position (i.e., SCR) to provide a greater level of safety-related support. Demand for a SCR program may also be generated by the public in response to real or perceived safety problems. Public demand can be measured by the number of safety-related citizen complaints to local road agencies, although complaints can be directed to the State DOT or other safety agency. While it would be difficult to justify a SCR program based solely on public demand, this measure can be used to support the establishment of a SCR program.
It is not only important to identify the demand for a SCR program, but it is also necessary to establish the demand for the various types of support (e.g., technical assistance, training, or both). When training is desired, it is necessary to determine the topics of interest. The needs analysis survey (Figure 1) may be distributed to State and local agencies to determine the level of interest by type of assistance. If training is desired, the needs analysis identifies specific courses of interest.
Sample Needs Analysis Survey
What types of safety-related assistance would be of greatest use to your agency? (Check all that apply):
____ Training (e.g., low-cost safety improvements)
____ Technology Transfer (e.g., how to use safety-related software programs)
____ Technical Assistance (e.g., analyzing crash data or conducting road safety assessments)
Does your agency currently allow for professional development (e.g., time away from work and assistance with course registration fees)?
If training is of interest, what courses would be of greatest interest? (Check all that apply):
____ ADA/Accessibility Requirements
____ Crash Investigation/Reconstruction
____ Flagger Training
____ Intersection Safety
____ Low-Cost Safety Solutions
____ Older Driver Issues
____ Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety
____ Road Safety Audits
____ Road Safety Fundamentals
____ Roadside Safety
____ Signs and Pavement Markings
____ Traffic Calming
____ Traffic Engineering Fundamentals
____ Work Zone Safety
____ Other (please specify): _________________
Figure 1. Sample Needs Analysis Survey
Support for SCR programs can be found in several ways. For example, while financial support is critical, it is also important to gain institutional support for the program from the State DOT and other partners. Partners can help champion the effort by promoting the SCR program and creating a strong safety culture within the State. Safety culture describes a heightened awareness of transportation safety needs across all levels of government and among the many associated professionals and agencies in which they are employed.
Iowa is regarded as a leader in changing the safety culture within their State. Specifically, the State established a Safety Management System (SMS) circa 1990, as mandated by the Intermodal Safe Transportation Equity Act (ISTEA). The SMS is composed of multi-disciplined professionals, including State and local transportation agencies, law enforcement, insurance representatives, American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) representatives, educators, and others, all with a mutual interest in transportation safety improvement in Iowa. While many States abandoned any safety management system with the expiration of ISTEA, Iowa did not. This multi-disciplinary group continues to meet and plan safety initiatives on all levels of roads in Iowa. The Iowa SCR indicated the positive change in safety culture has been instrumental in providing momentum for its SCR program. In essence, a strong safety culture within a State can drive the need for SCR activities.
As demonstrated throughout the Guide, SCR programs share many commonalties related to why and where a program is established. The typical process for initiating a SCR program includes:
While many commonalities exist, many differences unique to each program can also be identified. Rather than list the numerous differences, the following examples illustrate the process of establishing a SCR program.
The Florida SCR program was established as part of the FHWA-funded pilot SCR program in 2005. The Florida SCR program is part of the Florida LTAP Center, which is located at the University of Florida. Initially, SCR activities were limited, but the program expanded as partnerships and relationships were established.
The SCR activities began in Hendry County and were patterned on the successful Mendocino County (California) Road System Safety Assessment Process (see text box). Initial efforts in Hendry County included identifying sites with safety issues and conducting site visits to evaluate and correct the safety issues. As the program expanded beyond Hendry County, crash data were used to select focus counties, prioritize initial efforts, and identify other counties for later efforts. For each focus county, the SCR conducted basic training related to standard highway signs and using ball bank indicators, which the SCR provided.
Mendoncino County Road System Safety Assessment Mendocino County (California) Department of Transportation (MCDOT) maintains and improves 1,018 miles of secondary roads, including paved and unpaved local roads, major and minor collectors, and one four-lane arterial.
MCDOT has successfully reduced crashes by implementing improved highway signage as a low-cost safety measure. Crashes were reduced by 42.1 percent from 1992 to 1998 at a cost of $79,260 over the 6-year period. MCDOT refers to its program for evaluating and improving the safety of the county's road signs as Road System Traffic Safety Reviews. The program is similar to typical road safety audits (RSAs), but the focus is primarily on highway signs.
More information on the Mendocino County Road System Safety Assessment Process can be found in the Public Roads Magazine, January/February 2005; view at: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/publicroads/05jan/08.cfm
Currently, the Florida LTAP employs three part-time circuit riders located throughout the State, which helps to minimize travel costs and serves a larger geographical area. Another benefit of employing multiple safety circuit riders is the ability to provide location-specific expertise to different geographic regions. For example, certain areas of Florida may have safety issues related to older road users whereas other areas may need to address different safety situations.
Florida safety circuit riders interact mostly with County Road Department personnel who may be in highway maintenance or traffic device maintenance. Counties with a traffic operations department typically do not use the SCR services. Counties that contract traffic engineering design, but are responsible for maintenance of the devices, do use the SCR services.
Historically, Idaho has had high fatality rates on its local system, specifically with intersection-related and run-off-road crashes. The Idaho LTAP and the FHWA became involved because of the large number of fatal crashes and a SCR program was suggested as a means to reduce crash costs for local agencies. The Idaho LTAP director champions this effort and helps to promote the SCR to local agencies. Local Highway Technical Assistance Councils (see text box) also work to raise awareness of the SCR program among local jurisdictions. As local agencies learn more about SCR services, the demand for these services increases. The SCR program and championing efforts have resulted in marked success because local agencies now understand the magnitude of the problem in terms of people killed and crash costs. The SCR program provides the local agencies with the resources to address the safety issues.
Idaho Local Highway Technical Assistance Council (LHTAC)
The Idaho LHTAC's mission is to “assist the Local Highway Jurisdictions (e.g., cities, counties, and highway districts) with using the available resources for maintenance and construction of Idaho's Local Highway System in the most efficient and effective manner possible.” The LHTAC's focus is to:
- Develop uniform standards and procedures for highway maintenance, construction, operation, and administration.
- Make recommendations to the Idaho Transportation Board for distributing and prioritizing Federal funds for local highway projects.
- Assist the Legislature by providing research and data relating to transportation matters affecting Local Highway Jurisdictions within the State.
- Represent member jurisdictions at conferences, meetings, and hearings relating to highway and street subjects affecting Local Highway Jurisdictions.
- Maintain and disseminate information from other States that would affect the Local Highway Jurisdictions in Idaho.
For more information on the Idaho LHTAC, visit: http://www.lhtac.org/
The Iowa SCR program coincided with the Rural Technology Assistance Program (RTAP) in 1989, and was expanded to urban agencies in the early 1990s. Although not officially known as a SCR, the types of services provided date to the inception of RTAP.
The Iowa SCR program continually reviews its emphasis areas for relevance and worth to customers. Surveys of needs as well as preferences for training are distributed to customers periodically. Work zone safety and flagger training are staples of the training program, but other topics have been added, including roadside safety, permanent signing and pavement markings, and temporary traffic control design.
Kentucky is also one of four SCR programs established as a FHWA pilot program. To initiate the SCR program, Kentucky staff attended an FHWA-sponsored training program on low-cost safety improvements (LCSI) in 2004. They used that experience to customize course materials and develop a 1-day, Kentucky-specific workshop on LCSIs.
The Kentucky program focuses on three primary areas: reducing road departures (run-off-road collisions with fixed objects), intersection collisions, and collisions involving pedestrians. To launch the Kentucky SCR initiative, a steering committee first identified the six counties with the highest crash numbers. Then, each of the six Area Development Districts (ADDs) with the highest crash records hosted a workshop to disseminate best practices and share information on LCSIs. Kentucky is now in the second phase of its program and has identified additional counties for workshops and road safety audits (RSAs). In fact, the workshops and RSAs account for about 25 percent of the SCR's time.
The New York State SCR program evolved out of necessity. The Cornell Local Roads Program (CLRP) was created circa World War II and operated until the LTAP Center was formally established in 1984. The Cornell Local Roads Program used Section 402 funds to create and provide a work zone safety course, which formed the basis of its SCR program.
Although not formally identified as a SCR program, support was expanded to provide additional training as well as technical assistance. A safety engineer on staff provided this training from the late-1990s through 2004. When the instructor left the program, the training was reduced. In 2007, the SCR was officially established with encouragement and financial support from the New York State DOT (NYSDOT). In New York State, the SCR program was referred to as a traffic safety outreach program and offered technical assistance and training to local agencies. With the new outreach program and the need for local training, there was a need to refill the instructor position. After several unsuccessful attempts to fill the position, the program hired consultants to provide training to local agencies. Currently, two of the program's trainers also act as safety circuit riders. Additionally, one senior engineer at the LTAP Center provides safety technical assistance and training across the State as part of his LTAP duties.
The Pennsylvania SCR program was initiated circa 1990 with safety engineers providing training and technical assistance. Through its different bureaus, the Pennsylvania DOT (PennDOT) provides overall SCR program management structure, primary funding, and technical resources. PennDOT also serves as the coordinating agent or liaison between the SCR and different municipalities throughout the Commonwealth, including partnerships with local Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and Rural Planning Organizations (RPOs). The MPOs and RPOs provide outreach opportunities to market the SCR program, inform municipalities about safety resources, and schedule classes. Further, PennDOT provides crash data when needed and hosts safety-related classes at its district facilities.
The current SCR joined the Pennsylvania LTAP program in 1997, which was then managed by the Pennsylvania State University. In 2006, the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS) assumed management of the LTAP program as the prime contractor to PennDOT. PSATS is responsible for the primary administrative duties including:
PSATS uses a consultant to handle the training and technical assistance aspects of the SCR program. A pool of engineers provide safety-related services; two senior engineers conduct most of the training and technical assistance while four other engineers are available for technical assistance and other support. The safety circuit riders also write newsletter articles or tech sheets upon request and present at conferences and local government meetings. This creates a three-tiered SCR program including PennDOT, PSATS, and the consultant, each with its own roles and responsibilities.
The West Virginia LTAP also received one of four Federally funded grant programs to establish a formal SCR program; however, the State has provided SCR-type activities for many years. The FHWA grant helped fund programs for technical assistance on rural road safety. The LTAP Center had an established relationship with the traffic engineering unit of the West Virginia DOT because LTAP provided training and informal technical assistance for some of the districts. West Virginia used the FHWA grant to expand the type and amount of support provided. The LTAP programs tended to focus on run-off-road, intersection, and pedestrian crashes, but the Center also had a strong commitment to providing safety-related support in any area of need. As an example, the State DOT identified a roadway departure crash problem on many two-lane rural roads statewide, but did not have the resources to assess all locations. West Virginia is one of several States that does not have county road agencies and the State essentially serves as the local road agency. As such, the State DOT is responsible for over 90 percent of all public roads in the State. The Federal grant allowed the SCR to assist the State DOT with crash data analysis for two-lane rural roads, conduct field reviews of the locations with the district traffic engineers, and document recommendations for the State DOT. The SCR was able to provide this support for approximately 75 percent of the US- and State-numbered routes that are State-maintained. The State DOT staff completed this process for the remaining US- and State-numbered routes.
Northern Plains Tribal Assistance Program
The Northern Plains Tribal Technical Assistance Program established their SCR Program in 2004. In December of that year they announced their SCR program to the Tribal Transportation Planners. In January and February of 2005 the SCR program staff determined the level of interest, level of need, and tribes' ability to implement road safety improvements. Based on these discussions, the Oglala Sioux (Pine Ridge) Reservation, the Cheyenne River Reservation, and the Rocky Boy Reservation were chosen for a concentrated effort by the SCR program. These reservations were selected because of their knowledge of their transportation safety problems and their ability to team with state, Federal, and local agencies. When the SCR program became one of the FHWA-funded pilot SCR programs in 2005, efforts were focused on conducting RSAs on the three reservations. Highlights from the SCR assistance provided on two of the reservations is as follows:
The success of any program depends on sufficient funding. For the SCR program, different costs are associated with various aspects of the program and the extent of the program depends on the extent of the funding. Costs to initiate and operate a SCR program include:
Although the FHWA has supported the pilot initiative to fund SCR programs with short-term grants, it is unlikely the FHWA will be a primary source of funding for SCR programs. Once the FHWA grants expired, the pilot SCR programs were required to seek alternative funding to continue operating. For a look at potential funding sources, it is helpful to assess existing SCR programs. Based on interviews with SCR program managers and staff representing FHWA pilot programs, and those who have initiated a SCR program without FHWA assistance, potential funding sources include:
The SAFETEA-LU emphasis on using a data-driven approach to improve safety on all public roads may lead States to conclude that expanding or beginning similar safety programs for local roads is an excellent strategy for improving safety statewide. Engineering services have always been eligible as part of a Federal-aid project under the broad Title 23 definitions of construction and project, and Section 112 of Title 23 allows the State to contract for these design/engineering services. Engineering assistance programs for local roads was an eligible expense under the previous HSIP program and remains eligible under the new core HSIP program.
To qualify for HSIP funding, a SCR program should ensure that its engineering activities support key strategies within the State's Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP). For example, many States have identified run-off-road crashes or rural roads as key emphasis areas in their SHSP.
For more information on the HSIP, visit the following links:
Your State's SHSP information can be obtained from the FHWA Division Office.
Local agencies vary significantly in size and structure, which often determines the diversity of skills and available resources (e.g., staff, funding, and equipment) for an individual agency. The structure of local agencies may differ significantly by State. Therefore, it is important to first understand the structure in which the SCR will work. Figure 2 shows several potential levels of local government or organizational frameworks that may exist within a State. The larger entities appear at the top and the smaller divisions of the larger entities are listed at the bottom. It should be noted that this is a general representation and actual structures vary by State and the entities may appear in different levels.
Figure 2. Potential levels of government in states.
Larger local agencies (e.g., counties and large cities) will likely have greater resources available, while smaller municipalities (e.g., towns and villages) often have more limited staff and funding. Therefore the larger entities may be able to help support sustained SCR activities, while smaller local agencies will likely use this service only if it is provided free of charge. For example, the Florida SCRs focus on specific districts. District 7 in Florida has become so involved that it has contributed $50,000 to the SCR program to continue training efforts and RSA activities. In contrast, Pennsylvania is comprised of more than 2,500 smaller agencies, including townships and boroughs. The Pennsylvania SCR indicated that only a few of these local agencies (i.e., larger metropolitan areas) would have the resources to help support the SCR program.
The technical knowledge of the staff and resources available to the local agency may also affect the nature of training and technical assistance activities provided by the SCR. Larger local agencies may employ a staff to work full-time on roadway and traffic issues (e.g., highway and traffic engineers). Smaller municipalities often employ just a few staff members to handle all general civil engineering issues and these staff may or may not have a background in traffic engineering. For more information on the structure of local government within your State, visit: http://www.loc.gov/rr/news/stategov/stategov.html
The University of California, Berkeley's ITS Technology Transfer Program applied for a grant to perform traffic safety evaluation services for California communities. Funding was secured through a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The grant was a two-year agreement and included the following activities:
Several sources fund the Delaware SCR program. The SCR program is established as part of the LTAP Center and, as such, the LTAP Center is the primary source of funding. The annual budget for the LTAP Center includes LTAP funds from the FHWA, State Planning and Research (SP&R) funds from the FHWA, and State funds. The Delaware LTAP Center has received funds from the FHWA Division Office's technology transfer funds for several years, including once specifically for the SCR program in the amount of $5,000. While these funds are available annually, an application must be submitted each year for which the funds are requested. Aside from the support from the LTAP Center, additional funding was obtained for the SCR program as a one-time $10,000 grant from the FHWA's Office of Highway Safety as part of the Accelerating Safety Activities Program (ASAP).
The Florida SCR program was established and initially funded as an FHWA pilot SCR program. Since its inception, the Florida SCR program has had to obtain sustained funding and has identified and used several sources:
The Idaho SCR program was established initially as part of the LTAP Center, but activities were limited because of funding. The LTAP Center requested additional funding from the Idaho Transportation Department (IDT) through the HSIP or Section 402 funds. At the time, IDT would not provide additional funding through the HSIP because local roads were not included in the State's SHSP and, therefore, did not qualify for HSIP funding to support this effort.
The LTAP Center has continued to pursue funding and the IDT recently agreed to include language in the SHSP to allow funds to be spent on local roads and the SCR program. As soon as the SHSP is updated, funds will be available for the SCR program and held by the LTAP Center.
In July 2008, local jurisdictions applied for projects through the Local Technical Highway Assistance Council. A preliminary list of locations will be selected based on the most severe needs and RSAs will be conducted for those projects that are deemed appropriate. The RSAs will be, at least partially, supported by the County Risk Management Group. It is expected that the County Risk Management Group will provide funding to support one staff member to participate in the RSAs. Once the RSAs are complete, the funds from the HSIP can be obligated to correct the safety issues.
Another potential funding source is a local agency insurer, who has realized the potential benefit of improving the road systems. Increased safety would reduce the liability of the local jurisdiction, and as a result, the insurance company has expressed a strong interest in supporting the SCR program financially. Idaho is currently trying to identify an appropriate mechanism for the insurance company to provide funding.
State Farm Insurance has established the Embedded Safety Specialist Initiative in Illinois. While not technically a SCR program, it serves a similar function by providing safety-related support to local agencies (e.g., RSAs, local Highway Safety Plans, and grant applications). This pilot initiative through State Farm Insurance was established in response to the State's Dangerous Intersections Program, which identified hazardous intersections throughout the State. Some local agencies indicated that the Dangerous Intersections Program could have been more effective if they were involved in the selection process so that intersections that had recent improvements made could be removed from the list. As a result, State Farm provided seed money to initiate a SCR-type program to work more closely with the local agencies. The funding provided support for one consultant to work part time assisting a designated local agency. For the first year of the privately-funded pilot program, Champaign County was identified as the designated local agency. A different county was identified as the designated local agency for the second year of the initiative; however, Champaign County established a contract with the original consultant to provide continued support. Champaign County is funding the continued SCR-type activities through its MPO.
The Iowa SCR program initially was funded entirely by LTAP funds. Currently, the program is funded through a combination of sources. Specifically, the State DOT provides funding from its 0.50 percent road use tax fund, while the Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau and LTAP contribute additional funds.
During the pilot period, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KTC) recognized the value of the SCR program and pledged sufficient funding to carry the program through 2006, and possibly 2007. The SCR program is now solely funded by the KTC, but the SCR program must reapply annually to renew the KTC funding. The application is submitted to the Secretary of Transportation and approved by the KTC advisory board.
Initially, New York used Section 402 funds to develop and present the work zone safety course, as previously discussed. With financial support from the NYSDOT, the SCR was expanded. Specifically, the LTAP Center receives funding from the State DOT for safety-related activities. The SCR program falls well within the realm of safety-related activities and the LTAP Center uses the State funds to finance a large percentage of the SCR program. In addition, the SCR program receives funding from the Governors' Highway Traffic Safety Committee to support development of training materials. The SCR program also charges fees for workshops, but these fees only help to recover costs of the training (e.g., meeting room, materials, food). The fees from the workshops do not cover training costs; safety-related funds from the NYSDOT are used to cover the remaining costs. In 2008, typical workshop fees were $40 for basic training courses and $75 for engineering-level training (e.g., FHWA courses on pedestrian or roadside safety).
As discussed previously, the Pennsylvania SCR program is a three-tiered program, including PennDOT, PSATS, and a consultant. Funding is available for the overall program through a single fund at the State DOT, including contributions from the FHWA, Bureau of Planning and Research, and the Bureau of Highway Safety and Traffic Engineering, which includes Section 402 dollars. It is estimated that PennDOT adds about $1,300,000 to the LTAP program, annually. While the funding supports safety training and technical assistance as well as maintenance and marketing/outreach activities, it is estimated that 50 percent of the funding is spent on safety activities. The Bureau of Planning and Research lets a bid to provide LTAP services for a three-year period with the option of a two-year extension. The program appears to be well- established and the outlook for continued funding appears promising.
As noted previously, the West Virginia LTAP Center has had a SCR program for many years and provides training and onsite technical assistance. The West Virginia SCR program is funded mostly by the State and while the program would likely offer many of the same services had it not received an FHWA grant, the SCR has been enhanced by the grant. Grant monies were particularly helpful for purchasing additional equipment to provide a wider range of services. For example, the West Virginia LTAP owned automated traffic counters, which were available for loan to local agencies. With the additional funding, the SCR program was able to purchase a retroreflectometer for testing sign retroreflectivity. Now, when the SCR identifies potential signing issues and recommends a study to determine the adequacy of retroreflectivity, the SCR can provide the equipment to the agency to perform the task. West Virginia will continue to look for other support to maintain the current level of activity and resources.
The Wisconsin SCR program was initiated at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2008. The SCR program has been established as a two-year pilot program funded at $280,000 by the State DOT using the HSIP flexible funding option. Its continuation is contingent on the success of the pilot period. Appendixes C.2 Wisconsin SCR Funding Proposal and C.3 Wisconsin SCR Contract Budget include the initial SCR proposal and budget between the State DOT and University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The funding is provided through the State's Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) funds, specifically the 10 percent flex option set forth in 23 U.S.C. 148 section 104(b)(5), described previously under State funding options. To use HSIP funds for non-infrastructure projects, the DOT had to certify that it had fulfilled all of its infrastructure needs for that year. Specifically, Wisconsin certified to the FHWA Division Administrator that it had allocated funding for all HSIP projects. In addition, the SCR program was included in the State's SHSP as an activity to help improve intersection safety and to minimize consequences of run-off- road crashes. SCR activities will specifically support the following SHSP issue areas:
According to those involved in the SCR program initiation, the greatest challenge in the process was the certification that the State had met all infrastructure requirements. Another challenge was to convince the Wisconsin DOT that the SCR program was beneficial and worthy of this funding mechanism. There were 15 proposals submitted to use the 10 percent flex option. As a testament to the perceived benefits of the SCR program, the proposal was one of just five proposals approved to use the 10 percent flex funding. As discussed previously, the use of flex funds requires a match, which cannot come from other Federal sources. Wisconsin developed a clever solution, employing course registration fees and publication sales to obtain the necessary match in funding.
Activities to be performed under the two-year contract include:
The SCR program involves a partnership with the University of Wisconsin TOPS lab for crash analysis support. The TOPS lab employs students to assist in the crash data analysis under the direct supervision of full-time researchers. The data analysis effort initially identified those counties with the highest number of fatal crashes. Based on the initial analysis, the safety circuit riders will conduct RSAs in six of the 72 counties.
Partnerships are a crucial aspect of any SCR program. Partners formed by existing SCR programs range from Federal to local governments and can include the general public. The divisions of government will vary across States, but examples of partners include:
Other partnerships identified by existing SCR programs include:
Partnerships may result in several benefits including:
As your State moves forward in developing and implementing a Strategic Highway Safety Plan that identifies specific strategies to improve safety on all public roads, we encourage you to consider the suitability of providing part- or full-time safety assistance to local governments through your State's LTAP Center or some other means. If your data points to engineering safety needs on local roadways, it will be important to assure those jurisdictions have adequate resources to assess and develop safety strategies and projects.
One of the greatest challenges to initiating a SCR program, aside from identifying sufficient funding, is identifying an appropriate circuit rider. The New York LTAP Center indicated that hiring safety circuit riders is one of its greatest issues. While several common characteristics were identified among current safety circuit riders, the preferred characteristics of a circuit rider will likely vary based on the scope of the program.
Characteristics of a Good Safety Circuit Rider
- Diverse technical skills in engineering and operations.
- Credibility with local road and other community organizations.
- Active in professional associations.
- Comfortable speaking before large audiences.
- Good interpersonal skills.
- Good written communication skills.
Safety circuit riders perform a wide range of duties including training, technical assistance, and technology transfer. These duties require a diverse knowledge in safety from design and operations to specific populations of road users (e.g., pedestrians and the elderly). The SCR may work with people at all levels of government from local officials and local agencies to the State DOT. Therefore, the safety circuit rider must understand the various levels of government; experience and relationships at the various levels is even more desirable. Safety circuit riders are also required to travel regularly to provide onsite training and technical assistance as well as to attend professional development activities (e.g., conferences and seminars). As such, the safety circuit rider must be amenable to travel and comfortable speaking to large audiences. Additionally, good interpersonal communication skills are very important as safety circuit riders must be able to work effectively one-on-one in technical assistance mode. Good written communication skills are also critical as safety circuit riders must be able to prepare reports for a variety of technical and non-technical audiences.
Interviews were conducted with several current SCRs to identify common characteristics. Appendix D Safety Circuit Rider Commentaries provides thoughts and comments from existing safety circuit riders regarding the most important characteristics of the job. The following items were identified as common characteristics among current safety circuit riders:
When initiating or expanding a SCR program, it is necessary to determine the number of safety circuit riders needed and whether they will be part-time or full-time employees. Of course, this assumes that the number and types of planned activities are known. In many existing SCR programs, the number of safety circuit riders was initially determined by available funding and the size of the State.
Chapter 3 provides examples of the activities expected from a part-time or full-time SCR.
Typical SCR program activities include training, technical assistance, and technology transfer. This chapter provides examples of the types of activities performed by existing SCR programs, as well as the number of activities performed each year and percent time spent on each type of activity.
Training is one common function performed by safety circuit riders (see Figure 3). Based on responses from current SCR programs, training is offered on a variety of topics including:
Figure 3. Training Session.
The variety of courses offered will likely vary by program. As discussed previously, many SCR programs start small. They offer one or two courses initially and then expand their course list as the program becomes more established. One reason for only offering a select list of courses initially is the time required to develop course materials. In West Virginia, the SCR typically spends more time on training than on technical assistance because of the time necessary to develop curriculum, which in many cases is highly dependent on the availability of resources. According to the Iowa SCR, it may take four to eight hours or more of preparation time for a one-hour presentation. However, once training materials are developed, the time commitment to update the materials is not as substantial.
It is also likely that the need for training will vary from year to year. Therefore, it is necessary to continually assess the demand for various courses and provide training on those topics that are most desired and timely. In general, the assessment of the need for training is similar to the assessment of the need for a SCR program. Important topics to cover during the assessment include the courses of interest, appropriate course length (e.g., half-day, one-day, two-day), desired format (e.g., onsite or web-based), and willingness to pay. Surveys can be distributed to State and local agencies on an annual basis. The Iowa SCR program constantly reviews its emphasis areas for relevance and worth to customers by periodically distributing surveys of customer needs. Idaho provides a one-day training course on Road Safety Fundamentals and Low-Cost/Low-Volume Safety Improvements. The Idaho SCR indicated that the one-day course could be enhanced by expanding it to a two-day format. In a two-day format, the course material would be presented on the first day and the following day could be used to demonstrate a Road Safety Audit/Assessment (RSA).
Training may also be conducted in conjunction with major program initiatives. All local transportation agencies in Iowa are provided with free crash analysis software along with the current five-year crash history. Training is available to help staff use the software and understanding the data. Several counties, where courses were provided, indicated that they are implementing low-cost improvements. The SCR indicated that the counties have seen a real movement toward data analysis and low-cost safety improvements. The number of course sessions offered per year will likely vary as well. The number of sessions offered will depend on the number and availability of safety circuit riders as well as the demand for training.
From January through September 2007, the three safety circuit riders in Florida conducted 13 training activities totaling 125 hours and involving 205 participants. The training activities included RSAs for Local Governments, RSAs for CTSTs, Low-Cost Safety Solutions for Rural Roads, and Traffic Engineering Fundamentals. For additional details regarding these training activities, see Appendix E.1 Florida Training Activities.
RSAs for CTSTs Workshop, January 2008
The Florida SCR conducted a RSA workshop in Heathrow, Florida. The purpose of the workshop was to provide CTST members with a basic understanding of RSAs and better prepare them to identify safety issues and countermeasures in their communities.
Participants had diverse backgrounds and reasons for attending. Participants included State and local employees and even a Senator's assistant. Job titles of participants included Pedestrian and Bicycle Coordinator, Highway Safety Program Manager, and Transportation Planning Section Manager. Additional details related to the participants are provided in the Participant Feedback section in Chapter 3.
The workshop addressed three topics:
- What are RSAs?
- Why do we need RSAs?
- Why are RSAs a good fit for CTSTs?
Examples of previous RSAs were provided from several counties. The examples illustrated several typical safety issues, including pavement edge drop-offs, fixed-object roadside hazards, sight obstructions, and pedestrian issues. After the classroom portion of the course was complete, the SCR led a field exercise where the team conducted a RSA, which gave participants an opportunity to apply the knowledge they obtained from the course and ask questions.
As an example of market research, the Florida SCR program distributed a survey before developing a course on the Manual of Uniform Minimum Standards for Design, Construction and Maintenance for Streets and Highways, commonly referred to as the Florida Greenbook, a resource for cities and counties regarding design of non-State roads. The course agenda and survey were distributed to members of the Florida Association of Counties and Road Superintendents (FACERS) to better determine the course content, target audience, and their needs.
Training is offered based on demand and feedback from the potential audience. Course topics typically vary from year-to-year and by region, based on need. The SCR has also developed pocket guides and provides them to local agencies to help them identify and address safety issues. The pocket guides are a useful training tool as well. The three pocket guides are:
The pocket guides have received positive feedback and are very popular with local agencies. The Traffic Signs Handbook was updated in 2008 and 3,500 copies were distributed within the first year.
Training focuses on the latest technology, techniques, and regulations to help local governments maintain and enhance the safety of their local road network. Training is conducted in a classroom setting and several courses are regularly scheduled at three set locations across the Commonwealth. Training is also initiated in response to customer-specific phone call or email requests (local government, planning partner). Following initial training requests, PSATS and the SCR work together to propose dates to the municipality. Evaluation forms are collected at the end of each class to rate the material and instructor. PSATS sends an evaluation to the SCR six months following the completion of a class. In 2007, the SCR conducted 86 training sessions involving 1,500 participants.
The SCR provides training for State and local road personnel. One of the features of the SCR training was the safety blitz at DOT district offices. The safety blitz events included several courses over three days: Road Safety Fundamentals on Tuesday, Roadside Safety on Wednesday, and Low-Cost Safety Improvements on Thursday. Training also extends beyond the safety blitz and is offered on a number of topics including: roadside safety, intersection safety, signs and markings, accident investigation, crash reconstruction, traffic calming, pedestrian and bicycle safety, road safety fundamentals, low-cost safety improvements, traffic sign retroreflectivity. The SCR conducts 30 to 40 training courses each year. In 2007, the SCR conducted 44 training sessions totaling 78.5 hours and involving 1,139 participants.
Technology transfer is a combination of training and technical assistance. Technology transfer, for the purpose of this Guide, refers to the dissemination of state-of-the-art and state-of-the-practice methods and tools. Technology transfer often involves onsite, hands-on training. For example, retroreflectivity is an important attribute of signs for visibility during nighttime and poor weather conditions. Retroreflectivity decreases as signs age, creating a potential safety issue. A retroreflectometer can be used to measure the retroreflectivity of signs, but agencies may not have the funds to purchase or skills to use the equipment. In West Virginia, the SCR program was able to purchase a retroreflectometer with funding support from FHWA. As part of a technical assistance activity, the SCR may recommend that the agency conduct a sign study to determine the adequacy of sign retroreflectivity and replace inadequate signs. The SCR may demonstrate the use of the retroreflectometer and allow the agency to borrow the equipment to conduct the study. Iowa's SCR indicated that keeping up-to-date with new technology is one issue related to technology transfer because it changes constantly.
Technology transfer can also involve the dissemination of safety-related resources and information. The Florida SCR program has developed a Highway Safety Resource CD. The CD is distributed to workshop participants and, to date, favorable reviews have been received from CD recipients. Similar to West Virginia, the Florida SCR program has purchased a retroreflectometer and plans to train the local agencies on its proper use. The equipment will mostly be used to support RSA activities.
Highway Safety Resource CDThe Resource CD includes an extensive list of safety resources including the following topics:
- Highway Design.
- National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 500.
- Restraints (Observing occupant restraint use/misuse, increasing use).
- Safety Management Systems.
- Special Populations.
Technical assistance includes onsite, phone-based, or web-based support to answer technical questions and provide guidance to State and local agencies. Technical assistance can include a number of activities ranging from advice related to appropriate signage and installation requirements to detailed crash analysis with safety diagnosis and countermeasure recommendation. Much of the technical assistance related to design guides and standards can be answered quickly by phone or email. When an agency has concerns related to the safety of a specific site or area, a site visit is typically required, which is much more time-consuming. Many of the SCR programs began on a small scale, offering some onsite assistance, and in some cases, SCR programs initially limited onsite support to specific counties, focusing on those with the greatest need. One benefit to limiting the initial focus is the potential to develop strong relationships (e.g., repeat visits and in-depth assistance). As the programs became more established, they were able to expand services to other counties and offer a wider range of technical assistance.
A common type of technical assistance is the RSA. Safety circuit riders successfully use RSAs to improve safety on local roads. A RSA is a formal safety examination of a future roadway plan or project or an in-service facility; it is conducted by an independent, experienced, multidisciplinary RSA team. Figure 4 provides an example of a safety issue identified during a SCR technical assistance site visit and potential countermeasure to address the safety issue. The following case studies provide several examples of technical assistance activities conducted by existing SCR programs.
Figure 4. Examples of SCR Technical Assistance.
Left Photo: An example technical assistance site visit by the SCR identifies pavement edge drop-offs as a safety concern.
Right Photo: The safety edge is one potential recommendation to address pavement edge drop-offs created by resurfacing.
In Florida, the safety circuit riders have worked with nearly a dozen counties to review crash data and identify locations with safety issues. Once locations are identified, the safety circuit riders conduct site visits or formal RSAs to diagnose safety issues. Florida safety circuit riders have been conducting RSAs for over three years.
District 7 has become so involved with the SCR program that it has developed a five-year work plan for conducting RSAs and Road Safety Audit Reviews (RSARs). Based on a safety diagnosis, the safety circuit riders work with the agency to identify low-cost solutions to:
Figure 5 provides an example of issues identified during RSAs in Pasco County and the actions taken to remedy the issue. A more detailed example of a Pasco County RSA is provided in Appendix E.
Figure 5. Examples of Issues Identified during Pasco County RSAs.
Location: Ridge Road (CR 587) at Leo Kidd Avenue.
Left Photo: BEFORE - Guide signs were identified as confusing and obstructed visibility of the traffic signals on Leo Kidd Avenue (background).
Right Photo: AFTER - Guide signs were consolidated and backplates added to increase visibility of the traffic signal and to reduce driver overload
Location: SR 54 at Morris Bridge Road / Eiland Boulevard (CR 579).
Left Photo: BEFORE - Sign clutter was identified as an issue, especially redundant signage.
Right Photo: AFTER - Redundant evacuation signs were eliminated and remaining sign located so visibility was not obstructed.
The Pennsylvania SCR Program provides six types of technical assistance services to local governments.
As there is some overlap within these services, it is up to PennDOT, PSATS, and the SCR consultant to determine the appropriate service for each municipal request. For example, one site examined as part of the Local Safe Roads Communities may end up being a Road Safety Audit Review because of the lack of reportable crashes. For additional details on each type of technical assistance, refer to Appendix E.
In addition to the in-person technical assistance, the SCR also publishes technical information sheets (i.e., technical articles) through the Pennsylvania LTAP Center. The technical information sheets are relatively short (no more than a few pages) and focus on a specific topic (e.g., curve warning versus turn warning signs). An example of a technical information sheet is provided in Appendix E.
The Utah SCR program uses Safety Software Suite to provide technical assistance and RSAs to local agencies. The Safety Software Suite is described further in Appendix E. As part of the RSA training and technical assistance, the Utah SCR developed a mailing list of those local agencies that have received RSA training. In addition, the SCR facilitates the organization of teams for locals requesting RSAs. The local agency is responsible for providing preliminary studies and per tinent information for the location of interest, as well as lunch for the RSA team. The Utah SCR also uses the FHWA RSA Peer-to-Peer program for additional assistance in conducting the RSAs.
FHWA Road Safety Audit Peer-to-Peer (RSA P2P) Program
To provide assistance to agencies either considering the use of or actually conducting RSAs, the FHWA Office of Safety established a peer-to-peer (P2P) program. The RSA P2P program is provided at no cost to State, local, and Tribal transportation agencies, and it's easy to access the support of a knowledgeable peer.
A State, local, or Tribal agency can request assistance either by email or by calling the toll-free number describing their needs to the FHWA-sponsored P2P coordinator. The coordinator will match the agency with a transportation professional that is experienced and knowledgeable in RSAs, including expertise with particular issues or types of RSAs.
The matched peer will then contact the agency to work out the details of the assistance to be provided within the program framework, which can include a site visit as needed.
As reported in the LTAP Program Assessment Report (PAR), the majority of the technical assistance in West Virginia includes five types of activities.
The West Virginia LTAP center tracks all technical assistance requests, including those conducted by the SCR. The technical assistance requests are tracked separately under Highway Safety Technical Assistance and Worker Safety Technical Assistance. The information recorded for each technical assistance request includes:
In West Virginia, onsite technical assistance has typically focused on safety issues that can be addressed with low-cost safety improvements such as sight distance and signing (see Figure 6). As a separate focus area, walkability audits have been conducted in several towns and neighborhoods to identify pedestrian issues. The following provides a short list of examples of technical assistance activities. Further details are provided in Appendix G Participant Feedback and additional technical assistance activities are presented in Appendix E.
Figure 6. Example of Technical Assistance Activity in West Virginia.
Top left and right photos show a marked crosswalk before a technical assistance activity from the West Virginia SCR. Crossing is difficult to see from a driver's perspective.
Bottom left and right photos show the same marked crosswalk after a technical assistance activity from the West Virginia SCR. Pavement markings have been repainted and a retroreflective sign has been installed to increase conspicuity.
The time spent on various activities depends on the services offered by the SCR program, as well as the demand for the various services. Table 1 provides a breakdown of the relative amount of time spent on major SCR activities (i.e., training, technology transfer, and technical assistance).
|SCR Program||Time spent on Training||Time spent on Technology Transfer||Time spent on Technical Assistance||Time spent on Other Tasks*|
There is extensive literature related to road safety and it is unlikely that a SCR program would need to produce any new material. Therefore, it is necessary for the SCR to be familiar with the latest safety information including practices, ideas, methods, guides, and standards and stay current with the state-of-the-practice. The SCR should be familiar with the differences between policy, standards, guidance, and research. The safety circuit rider should be familiar with the current policies and standards of the AASHTO A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets (Green Book), the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), and Highway Capacity Manual (HCM). Section 3.5.1 provides examples of how these and other documents were utilized. Much of the safety-related literature, such as the NCHRP 500 Series Guidebooks, is not prescriptive; rather it offers recommendations to address specific safety issues.
Several current SCR programs have developed reference materials for local agencies. These quick-reference guides include excerpts from the MUTCD or AASHTO Green Book that are specific to local roads. To develop training documents, many of the SCR programs have used material from existing courses offered by the FHWA or the National Highway Institute (NHI). Aside from FHWA and NHI courses, the following list includes several references that may be applicable:
Figure 7. Examples of Safety Resource Documents.
Florida has its own version of the Green Book, which is a general guideline for non-State road design and is a primary resource for cities and counties. The Florida SCR program is developing a workshop to provide a broad overview using the Florida Green Book as the main resource. In addition, a Florida SCR regularly attends the statewide Green Book Committee meeting to exchange ideas about the course.
NHI courses are another useful resource for obtaining materials. The RSA training presentation, offered through the Florida SCR program, was adapted from the FHWA RSA course. Two safety circuit riders, as well as staff from the Florida LTAP Center, attended a FHWA RSA train-the-trainer workshop in November 2006. Based on materials from the train-the-trainer course and assistance from the FHWA, the safety circuit riders began offering RSA workshops. The workshops were refined and materials added, including Florida-specific issues. The Florida SCR program currently offers two different RSA classes—a full two-day course and a modified one-day course for CTSTs. The RSA course for CTSTs is a compressed version of the two-day class with a discussion of the relevance to the CTSTs. In another example, a SCR attended a train-the-trainer course for Design and Maintenance of Paved Low-Volume Roads. The course materials will be evaluated for possible incorporation into current SCR workshops and possibly used to develop a new workshop.
The Iowa SCR provides several manuals for various topics including pavement markings, signing, and work zone traffic control. FHWA training materials are an excellent resource for developing SCR materials. The MUTCD, State Department of Transportation, and various web sources are other useful resources for developing materials.
The New York SCR distributes three different pocket guides to provide a supplemental tool to local agencies. The pocket guides were developed by staff at the Cornell Local Roads Program and based on a number of resources including:
Most of the training courses are developed in-house using a variety of resources. The safety circuit riders distribute many State-specific manuals for work zone, signs, traffic studies, tort liability, and flagging.
The Utah SCR program uses Safety Software Suite to provide technical assistance and RSAs to local agencies. Safety Software Suite is a royalty-free, GIS-based, safety analysis tool, which incorporates several modules to assist with sign management, crash analysis at segments and intersections, RSAs, and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance. Appendix E provides further details regarding select modules. The crash analysis capabilities of the software include calculations of equivalent property damage only (EPDO), crash rate, and weighted hazard index (WHI). Using a GIS-based platform, the software is also capable of locating crashes and crash statistics to specific segments or intersections. The tool can also incorporate existing crash data with crash reduction factors (CRFs) to estimate the expected reduction in crashes. The CRFs are obtained from the FHWA Desktop Reference for Crash Reduction Factors. In addition, the software can generate a benefit-cost analysis for proposed treatments based on the expected reduction in crashes and cost of treatment.
The SCR program uses other existing resources, in addition to the Safety Software Suite, to facilitate RSAs for local agencies. In particular, the SCR program uses the Desktop Reference for Crash Reduction Factors, developed by FHWA, as well as a Cost- Benefit Analysis Worksheet, developed by the Utah DOT, in conjunction with Iowa.
In most cases, the process for requesting SCR activities is relatively informal. Requests are typically handled on a first-come-first-served basis and can be submitted by letter, telephone, email, or in-person to the SCR or the LTAP/TTAP Center. The West Virginia SCR indicated that requests often result from personal contacts at workshops, meetings, and conferences. Requests are also generated through involvement with community development (e.g., the Community Design Team) and other similar organizations. The West Virginia SCR indicated that its involvement with the Community Design Team is the most common source of technical assistance requests. At this point, many SCR programs are relatively new and usually do not often have a long queue for requests. While the number of requests is relatively limited, the requests can be tracked manually. As SCR programs become more established, it may be necessary to modify the request process, including an automated system to receive the requests and track the progress until the request is closed. The Pennsylvania case study provides an example of a web-based tracking procedure.
There are over 2,500 local governments in Pennsylvania, including cities, townships, and boroughs. Each of these local governments owns and maintains a roadway network, which range in size from all roads within an area of one square mile to roadway networks covering more than 125 linear miles. Municipal government employees (e.g., elected officials, road crews, planners, engineers) can submit a request to the PennDOT Central Office, PSATS, PennDOT Municipal Services representative (i.e., PennDOT District liaisons to local governments who help administer liquid fuels funds), the MPO/RPO, or directly to the safety circuit riders.
Once PSATS notifies the SCR consultant point-of-contact of a request, the consultant point-of-contact assigns the technical assistance based on the location and nature of the request. The assignment to a particular SCR is completed by phone, email, or on-site and PSATS is copied on the assignment to start the web-logging and assignment process. All contacts are tracked through the website.
Regarding the timeframe, the SCR contacts the requesting municipality within three working days from receipt of the request. Once the SCR agrees to send follow-up material, it is sent within five business days of the agreement. The on-site visits are scheduled based on the availability of the SCR and requesting municipality. The SCR performs the technical assistance and documents all applicable technical and administrative information until the tech assist is considered complete or inactive. Again, all information is tracked using the existing LTAP website. The SCR provides final documents and information to the requesting agency within 10 business days of the on-site technical assistance. After the technical assistance is complete, the SCR closes the request on the website within 10 business days.
PSATS is responsible for administration activities to ensure all requests are met in a timely fashion and closed to the satisfaction of the requesting municipality. Copies of all technical assistance correspondence, which must include the assigned technical assistance number, are maintained by PSATS.
The typical audience of SCR-related activities may range from State employees to members of volunteer safety groups. It is likely that technology transfer will apply mostly to engineers, while the audience for training and technical assistance will be much broader. Florida safety circuit riders conduct training workshops and provide technical support, but do not provide engineering services or detailed design recommendations. The typical audience in Florida includes elected officials, law enforcement, municipal workers, safety advocacy groups, roadway designers, street superintendents, public works employees, directors, CTSTs, and engineers. In Pennsylvania, the typical audience includes elected officials, roadmasters, law enforcement personnel, street superintendents, public works employees, and public works directors. Engineers are welcome to attend but the focus is on the non-engineer.
Figure 8. SCR Speaking to Group in West Virginia.
In Iowa, the typical audience includes employees of county and city agencies, utility companies, and private contractors. Specific examples include the county engineer, city administrator, local safety representatives, and staff from these local agencies. The Iowa SCR indicated the importance of a multidisciplinary focus in training efforts (e.g., involve other local agencies such as public works, law enforcement, and elected officials). Iowa has a very good relationship with several local law enforcement agencies and a great relationship with the Iowa State patrol, and these agencies have provided valuable input and assistance. It is beneficial to develop relationships and include public safety and law enforcement officials in the training and technical assistance efforts because they are responsible for documenting crashes and are a valuable resource when conducting safety studies and road safety audits.
The majority of technical assistance will probably be requested by State and local engineers, but the West Virginia SCR has received and responded to several requests from local communities as well. In West Virginia, there are no county-maintained roads; all roads are State maintained except those that are in incorporated municipalities. There are, however, county headquarters staffed by State personnel. The primary recipient of SCR support is the State DOT including central office, districts, and county headquarters. Other SCR activities include local road agencies and communities. When possible, the SCR tries to involve elected officials, public health, and law enforcement agencies, but this is the exception rather than the rule. The SCR indicated that pedestrian and bicycle advocacy groups are more responsive to these requests.
Many SCR programs are relatively new and based on their recommendations; local agencies may have only recently installed safety countermeasures. Few, if any, crash-based evaluations of SCR programs have been conducted to determine program effectiveness. However, several other indicators can be used in lieu of crash-based statistics to assess the strength and effectiveness of the program. Other indicators may include:
Based on interviews with several States, there is evidence that the SCR program has been successful.
Local agencies do not have adequate funding to evaluate roadway improvements; however, the safety circuit riders are optimistic about their efforts. Ed Kant, Florida safety circuit rider, indicated that two locations recently improved in Hendry County included restriping and installing turn lanes. The projects have been completed for less than a year, but it appears that the identified safety issues have been corrected.
With help from Local Technical Councils, the SCR is working to raise awareness among local jurisdictions. The effort has met with a good deal of success because local agencies now understand the magnitude of the safety problem (e.g., crash statistics and crash costs) as well as available resources to address the problem. This has also generated significant interest from the insurance organizations and State DOT to develop and support the program. The insurer of local road agencies sees the potential for the SCR program to reduce liability.
The SCR program is evaluated on an annual basis and results are reported to the Center for Transportation Research and Education (CTRE), at Iowa State University. In addition, LTAP provides quarterly reports to the DOT to show how funds are being used, particularly for the SCR program. An annual report is also provided to the LTAP Advisory Committee. Finally, there are periodic surveys to identify customers' needs as well as any suggestions they have for training.
While there are several annual evaluations of the SCR program, as mentioned above, many of the oversight groups use similar metrics for evaluation. At CTRE, annual goals are set and discussed during the program evaluation with the CTRE Director. The annual report to the LTAP committee is essentially a summary of the quarterly reports to the Iowa DOT, with an added listing of contacts and technical information sharing. Participant evaluations were used for several years following individual workshops, but were discontinued because the results were mostly redundant and not worth the effort. Appendix F.1 Quarterly Report to Iowa DOT provides an example of a DOT quarterly report summary.
To date, Iowa's SCR program has demonstrated results as anticipated and appears to be very successful. The continued interest in training and an increasing number of requests for technical assistance indicate the program's value. Feedback from local agencies has also been positive. Iowa provides a series of safety workshops for rural agencies every year. These include workshops related to older driver safety, intersection safety, and run-off-road crashes. This year a number of attendees indicated they were implementing specific spot improvements on their own (e.g., shoulder widening and slope flattening). The spot improvements are typically implemented with in-house funding and staff.
One noteworthy aspect of Iowa's SCR program is the opportunity for involvement in safety-related research. The research offers a good basis for technology transfer in topics of interest to local agencies.
There has not been a formal evaluation of SCR activities in New York, but a review of the overall LTAP program was conducted in 2007. Currently, the program appears to be effective because there are several requests for training and technical assistance, and the training sessions are always full. From 1997 to 2003, the traffic safety outreach program trained 2,341 participants in 105 workshops on seven topics. In addition, safety-related videos were loaned to local agencies 525 times. Among these, work zone training was the most popular. Technical assistance was requested and filled 143 times on issues of traffic safety, traffic control, and sign management. An example of a successful technical assistance effort follows. A school zone speed limit sign with flashing beacons was installed prior to a school zone to warn motorists to slow down when flashing. The sign created a safety hazard, however, because it was located on the outside of a horizontal curve and mounted on a 2.5-ft-high concrete base. The SCR conducted a site visit, confirmed that the fixed object was a hazard, and recommended a better installation location. The beacon was relocated beyond the curve and installed with the concrete base at ground level.
The Pennsylvania LTAP submits a quarterly report to the Bureau of Highway Safety and Traffic Engineering (BHSTE) in fulfillment of their grant requirements. The quarterly report summarizes the activities conducted by the SCR, including progress to complete activities proposed in the grant. Specifically, the report summarizes the number of sessions, the number of attendees, and the number of site reviews that resulted from training sessions. For each individual training course, the report indicates the date, duration, instructor, and location as well as the number of registered students, number of students attended, and number of students that passed. For technical assistance activities, the report summarizes the number of contacts by response method (i.e., office or on-site) as well as the number of safety improvement recommendations and number of safety improvements implemented as a result of the recommendations. Specific details are provided for the Local Safe Roads Communities and the Walkable Communities efforts, including the number of communities contacted, progress made in each community, and number of communities completed. For each individual technical assistance activity, the report provides information for the date completed, description of the type of activity (e.g., delineation and marking), location, method of contact (e.g., phone or field visit), information requested, actions taken, and time spent on the activity.
Several of the SCR activities were summarized in Chapter 2 and Appendix E, including the number of training sessions and participants as well as the number of technical assistance activities and resulting improvements. While these summaries provide some indication of the penetration of the SCR Program, they do not provide a specific measure of the quality or safety effectiveness of the program.
To evaluate the quality and effectiveness of SCR technical assistance activities, a safety technical assistance evaluation analysis was conducted. The following points summarize the results of 17 evaluations received during a single reporting period:
While most agencies were unable to quantify the safety effectiveness of the technical assistance and resulting improvements, two agencies did provide noteworthy information:
The West Virginia SCR indicated that it is too early to determine whether the program is operating as envisioned in terms of crash reduction goals. Local agencies often implement the recommended safety improvements, but it is difficult to show an associated crash reduction because the location of interest is usually only one point on a relatively low-volume road. Similarly, the State DOT has either programmed or recently implemented recommendations and sufficient time has not passed for a formal evaluation.
Anecdotally, the SCR program has exceeded expectations. This is evidenced in the training area by the number of requests for workshops. In fact, the SCR program receives more requests for workshops than they can facilitate. For technical assistance, the SCR noted that the large-scale data analysis, road review, and countermeasure identification effort for the State DOT is a noteworthy aspect of the program. The State DOT has programmed several recommendations related to roadway departure countermeasures and has implemented several intersection and pedestrian countermeasures identified in five focus cities.
While many of the existing SCR programs complete an annual program review, only one included a detailed review of crash data to determine the effectiveness of the program. The following describes the overall status of the SCR program in Kentucky and details the safety effectiveness in regard to crashes.
According to the Kentucky SCR, the program is exceeding expectations. By the end of the first phase of the program in June 2005, Kentucky helped to improve 39 roads as a result of the workshop and RSA activities, spending only $235,000 on the safety improvements. The involved counties in Kentucky have seen a marked improvement in safety through reduced injuries and fatalities. Roadways included as part of SCR activities recorded a 49.9 percent crash reduction in 2006. This reduction is based on crash data from sites that were improved in 2005 as part of the SCR efforts. The reduction was determined by comparing the average number of crashes per year in the before and after periods. The before period included five years of data and the after period included crash data from the time of implementation in 2005 through 2006. The public and media also responded well to the visible improvements in local roads.
Secondary benefits are those benefits that cannot be quantified in terms of a crash reduction. While the SCR can provide recommendations to enhance safety, the recommendations do not necessarily include the implementation of some countermeasure or program. The recommendation can include advice against implementation if it is counter to good safety practice and recognized engineering guidelines (e.g., installing CHILDREN AT PLAY signs). Political expediency is an issue at all levels of government, particularly at the small, local government level. Elected officials, public works directors, and street supervisors are often under public pressure to install or implement some device, even though it may not be in the best interest of safety. The SCR can provide these people with safety-related evidence to support or refute the public request.
Secondary benefits also include the increased awareness of manuals and guidelines (e.g., MUTCD, Roadside Design Guide). By working with the local agencies, the SCR can demonstrate the purpose of using these manuals and guides. If the agency continues to refer to these materials after their experience with the SCR, this should lead to increased uniformity of the roadway and roadway features (e.g., signs, markings, work zone traffic control), better information to motorists, and reduced liability exposure for the local agency. While it is difficult to quantify the safety effectiveness of secondary benefits, they should not be ignored because they can lead to significant long-term safety benefits.
As discussed in Section 3.3.1 Technical Assistance Case Studies, the City of Fairmont requested assistance from the West Virginia SCR to evaluate the potential to convert on-street parallel parking to angle parking. The request for angle parking was proposed to the City of Fairmont City Council by retail merchants with the hope of increasing available parking. The West Virginia SCR evaluated the situation and provided advice to the City of Fairmont recommending against the conversion to angle parking because of restricted sight distance on the street. The public works director, armed with the recommendation from the SCR, presented the advice and supporting evidence to the City Council. The City Council took into account the data provided by the SCR and turned down the request from the business community.
In another case, a new city administrator in a small town (Ronceverte, WV) asked the SCR to review the town's plan to convert several streets in a residential area to one-way traffic flow. The SCR examined the area and noted the presence of pedestrian traffic with relatively low traffic volumes. The SCR recommended against the one-way conversion (i.e., the streets remain two-way) because the conversion to one-way pairs would likely increase speeds and make the streets more attractive as shortcuts, thereby increasing traffic volumes in a residential area where pedestrians are present. The administrator took the advice of the SCR and, two years later, commented that he was glad he had listened to the SCR. Since then, the SCR has provided traffic-related assistance to the town on three other occasions. This indicates that the town respects and values the advice of the SCR, even though the first contact involved the rejection of their idea.
A number of other examples exist where the West Virginia SCR has recommended against proposals for installing CHILDREN AT PLAY signs or mid-block crosswalks where safety was an issue.
While much of the evidence of program success has been quantitative (e.g., number of training and technical assistance activities, number of requests for activities, and implementation of recommendations), participant feedback can also be an indicator of the strength and success of a program. Participant feedback represents customer satisfaction, which is important for the sustainability of a program.
Florida and West Virginia were two States where thorough case studies were conducted. Because of the large number of SCR activities in these States, ample opportunities were available to obtain feedback from course and workshop participants as well as those requesting technical assistance. The remainder of this section provides an overview of activities performed and related feedback regarding the satisfaction with the SCR program. More details on participant feedback are provided in Appendix G.
In January 2008, one of the Florida SCRs instructed a RSA workshop for CTSTs in Heathrow, Florida. The purpose of the workshop was to provide CTST members with a basic understanding of RSAs and better prepare them to identify safety issues and countermeasures in their communities. The free workshop attracted participants with very different backgrounds and reasons for attending. Follow-up interviews were conducted with several participants determined their reasons for attending and their satisfaction with the workshop. Each participants interviewed had positive comments regarding the workshop. The Pedestrian and Bicycle Coordinator for the City of Gainesville, Florida, indicated that he had attended prior RSA training, but this workshop was very useful and provided a different perspective on RSAs. A recently promoted Highway Safety Program Manager for District 1 indicated that he now has a good understanding of the RSA process and within one month of the training had already conducted an RSA. The Transportation Planning Section Manager for the Lake County Public Works Department indicated that the RSA workshop was very good overall and provided information from many different perspectives. Regarding the length of the workshop, he indicated that it was sufficient for senior management, but a two-day course may be more appropriate for those who are involved with RSAs on a regular basis. Additional comments are presented in Appendix G.
The West Virginia SCR has conducted numerous technical assistance activities including activities related to parking, traffic calming, walkability, and pedestrian and bicycle safety. These activities have been conducted both in- and out-of-state. Participants consistently indicated that the SCR was extremely helpful and very pleasant.
A participant involved in the walkability audit of Concord University and Town of Athens, West Virginia, noted that the study helped to spark interest in pedestrian issues throughout the university and community. The community has since applied for a grant through Safe Routes to School to implement several recommendations from the walkability study. Officials included several portions of the SCR's report in their application and were awarded the grant.
For those agencies that would like to initiate or enhance a SCR program, several lessons from other SCR programs may be of use. The following points were identified as challenges that have arisen or lessons learned during the initiation and evolution of existing SCR programs. The issues are summarized by the chapters presented in this report.
Chapter 2 discussed program initiation and program sustainability. The chapter includes information related to funding, partnerships, promoting the SCR program, and how to identify qualified circuit riders. Many of the obstacles identified by existing SCR programs were encountered during the program initiation stage. During program initiation, one must determine the need for a SCR program and at the same time identify sources of funding to support the program activities. This is why most existing SCR programs started small and expanded as the program became more established. Another challenge is identifying a qualified SCR once the program is funded or in obtaining funding to initiate or continue a program. Although it took several years, Wisconsin's program provides valuable insights as to how funding may be obtained to start a SCR.
West Virginia had no challenges of a technical nature, but did encounter some drawbacks related to program administration. Administratively, it took a long time to process the contractual paperwork through the State DOT because this effort was different from the normal Highway Planning and Research (HP&R) projects.
The SCR program has been very popular in Florida, but as a result of the substantial population (18.5 million), transportation funds are spread thin. Hurricanes, reduced property taxes, and budget cuts have also reduced the available funding for safety projects. With reduced funding, local agencies are interested in SCR activities because they do not have the funds to implement the recommended improvements or pay for workshops and training. Also, with funding shortages, training was the first program to be cut. Much of the time spent developing relationships and buy-in has been negated by the lack of funding.
The State of Iowa has been a leader in changing the culture of highway safety. Specifically, they have stressed the significance of the highway safety problem and have established support from State and local agencies as well as the public to address this issue. This has helped sustain the SCR program in Iowa because agencies and the public can see a real benefit to the activities performed.
In terms of continuity, West Virginia had some difficulties related to turnover within the SCR program and within local agencies. The original circuit rider left West Virginia after the first year of the program, so a new circuit rider arrangement was worked out for year two and beyond. Because of high turnover in local governments, continuous effort is necessary to promote the SCR program as a resource.
The New York LTAP Center indicated that one of its biggest challenges has been finding personnel to provide training and technical assistance. One potential hire did not accept the position because of concerns about the long-term status of the SCR program, among other reasons. Currently, the program contracts with eight private consultants to provide training when needed. Two of the consultants also serve as SCRs and provide technical assistance.
Chapter 3 highlighted various activities performed by the safety circuit riders. Activities include technical assistance, training, and technology transfer. The main issues related to safety circuit rider activities include the time to develop materials, travel time, and staying current with client needs.
The Iowa safety circuit rider cited the amount of time necessary to develop course materials. It can take 4 to 8 hours to develop materials for a one-hour presentation, depending mostly on the availability of materials and resources. Staying up-to-date with new technology is also an issue because it is constantly changing.
The Idaho safety circuit rider indicated that travel time for training and technical assistance is an issue because of the State's large geographic area. Flying was considered as an alternative mode of transportation, but has not proven to be a viable solution because of the amount of training materials necessary for the workshops.
Based on conversations with the West Virginia safety circuit rider, it is important to realize the limitations of the safety circuit rider duties. The safety circuit rider is intended to provide support to State and local agencies, not to perform the duties of the agencies or consultants. This is a sensitive issue because the safety circuit rider can make recommendations, but they cannot always help agencies implement the recommendations. For example, the SCR program in West Virginia was able to purchase a retroreflectometer with the additional FHWA funding support. As part of a technical assistance activity, the safety circuit rider may recommend that the agency conduct a sign study to determine the adequacy of sign retroreflectivity and replace inadequate signs. The safety circuit rider may then provide technology transfer to the agency, demonstrating the use of the retroreflectometer. However, the agency is responsible for completing the majority of the work, not the safety circuit rider.
Local agencies often have very limited resources to implement the recommended changes, including staff, materials, equipment, and budget. The low-cost improvements are beyond the scope of what the local agency can do, but the magnitude is also too small a job to justify all of the paperwork, time, and hassle of hiring a contractor. Therefore, the work may not get done. If there was a statewide or district-wide contract to cover the low-cost improvements, then small work orders could be issued to the contractor with minimal effort and delay in response to each SCR visit. One safety circuit rider in Florida strongly recommended an on-call contractor to implement the relatively low-cost recommendations from SCR-related activities as they are completed. If a contractor could handle the simple low-cost improvements (e.g., add a sign, refurbish pavement markings), everyone would see an immediate improvement from the SCR efforts, including the local agency, the public, and the elected officials. This would have a significant effect on program visibility and should lead to more timely safety benefits. In Florida, one district currently uses FHWA funding to purchase materials (e.g., signs, Qwik Kurb, solar-powered flashers) for the local agencies, but the local agencies are responsible for installation and maintenance.
In West Virginia, the SCR program has had a minor backlog of requests for assistance from local agencies, but mostly related to scheduling issues. Site visits often require two to three months advance notice to work out the logistics. Every year, the local agencies are given more responsibility (e.g., new signals, widened roads, more signs, etc.) and asked to cut their budgets. The common theme of do more with less has not been conducive to the SCR program.
Over time, it may be necessary or beneficial to make changes to a SCR program. As discussed previously, many SCR programs start small and expand the number and types of training and technical assistance offered. Starting small allows a program to establish relationships with local agencies and thoroughly develop materials for those activities that are offered. As a program becomes established, it may be necessary to adjust training and technical assistance based on the need of local agencies. Some larger States have also added SCRs to more efficiently cover the various regions of the State. Funding, however, is the primary factor in determining the level of safety circuit rider support. As funding changes, particularly if funding is reduced, it may be necessary to adjust the type or level of support. The following points are offered as examples of changes that were made out of necessity or proactively to enhance existing SCR programs.
At the inception of its SCR program, Kentucky offered limited support related to data collection and analysis. After the program was established, the State was able to expand its data collection and analysis efforts. It has also expanded the number of items monitored using the data.
In Iowa, the SCR program constantly reviews its emphasis areas for relevance and worth to customers. Surveys of needs and preferences for training are distributed to customers periodically and topics are added as needed.
The Florida SCR program has enjoyed great success with the RSA course. The full two-day course was modified to a one-day version for the CTSTs in the State because CTST members are volunteers and do not have time to attend a two-day session. Of the 57 CTSTs that would greatly benefit, many have not yet received the training because funding is not adequate to meet the demand.
When the FHWA grant for the West Virginia SCR program expired, the intense work on data analysis and road reviews also ended. Other safety circuit rider activities continue and the potential to increase data analysis and road review activities depends on whether additional funding is identified. For example, the State DOT may fund an initiative on intersection safety that involves the safety circuit rider.
The Florida SCR program includes three safety circuit riders, located strategically throughout the State to help cover the large geographic area in Florida. Although multiple safety circuit riders requires greater funding, the funds are actually better used because travel time and travel costs are reduced. This leaves more time and funds available for actual safety circuit rider activities. All three safety circuit riders are also part-time, which helps to reduce costs.
The New York SCR program created separate contracts for safety circuit rider training and safety circuit rider technical assistance. Although the same person may be involved with both aspects of the program, the separate contracts make the paperwork easier. This is particularly useful for the New York SCR program because it contracts with consultants to provide the majority of the safety-related training.
The New York safety circuit rider also indicated that travel can be very time consuming due to the large geographic area of the State. To minimize costs and travel time, the safety circuit rider combines trips whenever possible.