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FHWA Home / Safety / Local and Rural Road / Communicating About Local Road Safety with Local Elected Officials

Local Elected Officials: Leading the Way in Local Road Safety

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Techniques for Local Agency Practitioners

Local elected officials play a major role in local road safety. They set goals, adopt policies, build coalitions, and approve the budgets for the roads you operate. These officials, however, typically face many demands for their time and many requests for funding. When you work with them, you need to make every minute count.

Communicate

Photo: One woman and two men wearing hard hats and looking at plans or documents at a work site.

Keep it simple

Provide the facts in clear, concise language. Use terms that lay people will understand. Avoid acronyms and engineering jargon–for example, use "federal sign regulations," not "MUTCD."

Tell a story

Supplement facts and figures with stories of actual crashes. Explain how your plans may reduce these crashes.

Highlight successful examples

Share success stories from similar communities to show what has been proven to work. Use statistics about effective countermeasures.

Use creative presentation tools

Photo: Two cars on a curved rural two-lane road

Network

Build and maintain relationships with other safety stakeholders, such as:

These stakeholders can help you gather safety information and reinforce support for safety initiatives when you communicate with your elected officials.

Know the facts

Have the facts at hand about road safety in your community. You are the roadway expert, and the elected official looks to you for guidance:

Inform and educate

Inform and educate your elected officials:

Involve officials in safety

Provide regular updates on safety issues and projects. Include your local elected officials in road safety events to keep them involved and focused on safety:

Photo: Group of town officials and citizens at a ribbon-cutting event on a local street.

Working together, you and your elected officials can reduce crashes and save lives.

"We work to continually get the message out to our local elected officials that we're working day-in and day-out toward addressing the traffic-safety-related concerns of Mohave County residents."
–Steve Latoski, Public Works Director, Mohave County, Arizona

"You don't need tons of technical jargon to talk about things that are really common sense."
–Joe Marek, County Engineer, Clackamas County, Oregon

Local agency practitioners across the country are communicating successfully with local elected officials. You can, too.

Resources

Communicating About Local Road Safety with Local Elected Officials Video–http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/local_rural/
Local Elected Officials: Leading the Way in Local Road Safety Video–http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/local_rural/
Local Elected Officials: Leading the Way in Local Road Safety (brochure)–http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/local_rural/
FHWA Federal Aid Essentials Video: Roadway Safety Fundamentals–https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/federal-aidessentials/
FHWA Federal Aid Essentials Video: Introduction to HSIP–https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/federal-aidessentials/
Local-focused safety tools and information–http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/local_rural/

For further information:
Rosemarie Anderson
FHWA Office of Safety
rosemarie.anderson@dot.gov

FHWA-SA-16-019

Photo credits: Montgomery County, PA, Planning Commission, FHWA Flickr; iStock; Shutterstock; Michael McCarthy

FHWA Office of Safety logo and tagline: Safe Roads for a Safer Future: Investment in roadway safety saves lives.

U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration logo and word mark

Page last modified on February 1, 2017
Safe Roads for a Safer Future - Investment in roadway safety saves lives
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000