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FHWA Home / Safety / Roadway Departure / FHWA Roadway Departure Crash Emphasis Areas

FHWA Roadway Departure Crash Emphasis Areas

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FHWA Safety Program

FHWA's Office of Safety Design developed a Roadway Departure (RwD) Strategic Plan to provide a common vision for research, policy, and implementation to address RwD crashes.

Each year roadway departure (RwD) crashes account for more than half of the highway fatalities in the United States. FHWA defines a RwD crash as: A crash in which a vehicle crosses an edge line, a center line, or otherwise leaves the traveled way. Three Emphasis Areas account for more than 70 percent* of all RwD fatal crashes: overturns, opposing direction, and trees/shrubs.

Chart showing risk factors for fatal crashes involving trees and shrubs: 68% in rural areas; 52% where the posted speed is at least 50 miles per hour; 48% where the posted speed is 45 miles per hour or less; 46% on a curve.

Agencies must reduce the number and severity of RwD crashes, specifically those associated with the 3 major Emphasis Areas, to achieve the vision of Toward Zero Deaths. Each State's Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) can provide direction for reducing RwD related crashes in order to meet their goals. Turn the page to see FHWA's recommended strategies and actions associated with reducing the 3 most common RwD fatal and serious injury crashes.

* Source: FARS 2010-2012 (most harmful event)

Overturn Crashes

Opposite Direction Crashes

Roadside Trees and Shrub Crashes

30% of fatal RwD crashes include an overturn. 23% of fatal RwD crashes involve crossing a center line or median. These crashes are over represented by the risk factors shown below. 19% of fatal RwD crashes involve trees or shrubs on the roadside with the leading risk factors shown in the figure below.
Chart showing risk factors for fatal overturn crashes: 76% in rural areas; 72% where the posted speed is at least 50 miles per hour; 43% on a curve. Chart showing risk factors for fatal opposite direction crashes: 83% on undivided roads; 68% in rural areas; 68% where the posted speed is at least 50 miles per hour; 32% on a curve. Chart showing risk factors for fatal crashes involving trees and shrubs: 68% in rural areas; 52% where the posted speed is at least 50 miles per hour; 48% where the posted speed is 45 miles per hour or less; 46% on a curve.

* NCHRP Report 500, Vol. 4

Visit FHWA's Roadway Departure Strategic Plan online at:

http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/roadway_dept/docs/rwd_strategic_plan_version2013.pdf

Visit FHWA's Roadway Departure website at:

http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/roadway_dept/

For more information, contact:

Brian Fouch
Safety Design Team Leader
brian.fouch@dot.gov
(202) 366–0744

Dick Albin
Resource Center, Safety and Design Team
dick.albin@dot.gov
(303) 550–8804

Page last modified on February 16, 2017
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Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000