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FHWA Home / Safety / Local and Rural Road / Roadway Departure Safety

Roadway Departure Safety: A Manual for Local Rural Road Owners

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4. Countermeasures

The decision regarding which countermeasures to install to address a safety issue can be challenging. When necessary, the local practitioner should seek engineering expertise from a county engineer, State DOT, or through the State Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP). To make the most informed decision regarding roadway departure countermeasure selection, an agency should use all available data, both quantitative and qualitative. Through the work of several agencies (Federal, State and local) and universities, several proven, effective countermeasures have been identified to address roadway departure crashes. When using the countermeasure-based systematic approach, the practitioner should determine the appropriate conditions for which the countermeasure is most effective (crash type, geometric features, traffic conditions).

For a relatively small number of high crash locations with varying causes, the spot location implementation approach may be the most appropriate. Systematic implementation of proven low-cost safety countermeasures is often the most effective approach when there are several locations on the roadway network experiencing similar types of roadway departure crashes. For locations that have yet to experience crashes, but have identified features that contribute to roadway departure crashes, systematically applying safety treatments may be the best approach to prevent future crashes.

A high proportion of crashes tend to occur at locations that share common geometric or operational elements. Installing the same countermeasure at multiple locations (where appropriate) could, in many cases, increase the cost effectiveness of the safety improvement, allowing an increased number of treatments to be applied.

4.1 Select Roadway Departure Countermeasure

The countermeasures discussed in this section of the document are not all-inclusive of all those available to reduce the frequency and severity of roadway departure crashes on local, rural roads. Those discussed have shown to be effective for the appropriate roadway departure crashes.

The determination of sites to consider for countermeasure implementation is based on the analysis performed. Each countermeasure discussed in this section includes the following information:

Legend showing one dot for a short time period, two dots for a moderate time period,and three dots for a long time period.

Countermeasure: Install Advanced Curve Warning Signs


Countermeasure: Provide Curve Delineation Signing (Chevrons).


Countermeasure: Install Object Markers


Countermeasure: Install Center Line and Edge Line Pavement Markings.


Countermeasure: Install Raised Pavement Markers (RPMs)


Countermeasure: Install Edge Line, Shoulder, or Center Line Rumble Strips/Stripes.


Countermeasure: Install Pavement Friction Treatments


Countermeasure: Provide Safety Edge for Pavement Edge Drop-off.


Countermeasure: Removing, Moving, or Marking Fixed Objects


Countermeasure: Create Clear Zones.


9 Federal Highway Administration in conjunction with the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, "Crash Modification Factors Clearinghouse" website. Available at: http://www.cmfclearinghouse.org/.

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Page last modified on June 28, 2011.
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