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FHWA Home / Safety / Transportation Safety Planning (TSP) / Directions in Road Safety - Newsletter

Directions in Road Safety - Newsletter

Vol. 7, Issue 1, January 2012

The Transportation Safety Planning Working Group – We're Still Here!

The mission of the TSPWG is to fully implement the SAFETEA-LU safety planning factor and coordinate activities with the implementation and evaluation of Strategic Highway Safety Plans from a multimodal perspective on transportation safety planning.

The Transportation Safety Planning Working Group (TSPWG) continues to tackle the issues and concerns surrounding safety and the transportation planning process. Renewed emphasis on transportation safety planning (TSP) comes at an opportune time. With traffic-related fatalities at their lowest level since 1949, continuing the positive trend requires new and innovative approaches for improving safety.

The TSPWG focuses on implementing the safety planning factor in SAFETEA-LU; coordinating transportation activities with state Strategic Highway Safety Plans (SHSP); and providing a multimodal perspective on transportation safety planning. Integrating safety in the transportation planning process is the first step toward institutionalizing safety practices overall which the TSPWG accomplishes through strong partnerships among stakeholders, and ongoing communication. The challenge for today is to continue the momentum, which the TSPWG has committed to do by:

Communicating with the many stakeholders involved in transportation safety planning is a key activity for the TSPWG. Looking ahead, the Group plans the following actions:

Transportation Research Board (TRB) TSP Subcommittee: The TSP Subcommittee will meet during TRB's Annual Meeting in January 2012 to discuss recent research results and experiences in the field, and to explore additional research needs to move the state of the practice forward. The meeting is at the Marriott on Tuesday, January 24 in Park Tower Suite 8219 from 10:15-12:00 p.m.

TSP Web Site: The TSPWG is revising the TSP web site to freshen the look, content, and functionality so the site remains a useful resource to TSP stakeholders seeking information about the TSPWG, noteworthy practices, safety tools for planners, research, publications, newsworthy events, and other information. Look for changes and updates in early 2012.

Leadership Workshop: The TSPWG is planning a Leadership Workshop sometime in 2012. The event will convene safety and transportation planners to discuss the opportunities and challenges associated with integration. Future editions of this publication and the TSP web site will include the agenda and additional details.

Directions in Road Safety newsletter: This newsletter, slated for periodic publication, includes the latest information on how states and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) are integrating safety and planning; information on the latest publications, tools, research, and training; and information available from Federal agencies. Anyone interested in transportation safety planning is welcome to submit newsletter ideas and articles.

News from the Field

This section of Directions in Road Safety includes examples where states, MPOs, and in some cases other countries have incorporated safety into the planning process.

Strategies for Reducing Pedestrian and Bicyclist Injuries

Incorporating safety into the transportation planning process sometimes involves identifying locations with the greatest potential for safety improvements. The California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) released a report offering methods to identify sites with potential for significant reductions in pedestrian and bicyclist injuries. The study, which looked at data from 1998 to 2007 on a section of roadway in the San Francisco East Bay area, evaluated several methods for identifying locations and provided the strengths and weaknesses of each. The result is a framework for conducting benefit-cost analyses along with a training protocol to assist with the analyses.

Sustainable Safety Reduces Crash Probabilities

Addressing safety at every level of the planning process results in reductions in traffic fatalities and serious injuries. A program introduced by the Dutch SWOV Institute for Road Safety Research, called Sustainable Safety, reduces the probability of crashes by identifying the factors that contribute to crashes and eliminating them during the design and construction process. Some of the strategies implemented as part of the demonstration projects include installing roundabouts, introducing traffic calming zones, intensifying police enforcement, and reducing speed limits in rural areas. Overall, the program resulted in a 30 percent reduction in fatalities over a 10-year period.

Los Angeles County Releases “Living Streets” Design Manual

Transportation safety planning involves more than drivers and cars; it involves all road users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcycle riders, truck drivers, etc. A program called “Living Streets” or “Complete Streets” focuses on achieving a balanced street design that accommodates cars while ensuring the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users. Los Angeles County, California released its design manual, The Model Design Manual for Living Streets, as a resource for municipalities that encourages them to adopt the “complete streets” or “living streets” principles. In addition to safety, the manual includes a focus on economic and environmental considerations. The design of the manual allows municipalities to adopt the information in full or part to suit their needs and concerns.

Cover of the Los Angeles County Model Design Manual for Living Streets.


Signalized Intersections Safety Strategies

Identifying safety improvements with the greatest potential to reduce severe crashes, whether as standalone projects or as part of larger capital improvement projects, requires keeping current on the latest research. Many states during the development of their SHSPs turned to the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 500 Series guidebooks developed in support of the American Association of State Highway Transportation Official's (AASHTO) SHSP. Each of the guides includes information on strategies designated as proven, tried, or experimental.

There has been considerable research conducted since the publication of the guides prompting the need for a review of some of the strategies. NCHRP Report 705: Evaluation of Safety Strategies at Signalized Intersections evaluated the effectiveness for selected strategies in Volume 12: A Guide for Reducing Collisions at Signalized Intersections using crash modification factors (CMF), which are a tool for quickly estimating the impact of safety improvements.

Public Transportation Performance Measures

State departments of transportation (DOT) are increasingly using performance measures in areas like safety, congestion relief, energy use, and infrastructure preservation to improve their planning, construction, and operations. The next highway authorization legislation is expected to include expanded reliance on performance management. NCHRP Research Results Digest 361 published information on the performance measures and performance management approaches state DOTs can use to make multimodal and grant funding decisions on public transportation.

News from Federal Agencies

This section of the newsletter focuses on the Federal agencies with a role in transportation safety planning, including the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)

Integrating Road Safety into NEPA Analysis: A Practitioner's Primer

Traffic safety has such an enormous impact on the traveling public, necessitating continued efforts to maximize the safety impact of all transportation planning processes. This includes the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. NEPA provides a unique opportunity to address safety since it requires a review of the environmental consequences, including safety impacts, of all Federally funded transportation projects. Taking a proactive approach to transportation safety before and during the NEPA process can save time, money, and most importantly – lives. Integrating Road Safety into NEPA Analysis: A Practitioner's Primer presents strategies that take advantage of the latest safety research and analysis techniques at every stage of the NEPA process and links them to safety planning.

Cover of the Federal Highway Administration Integrating Road Safety into National Environmental Policy Act Analysis: A Practitioner”s Primer.

The Primer is for NEPA practitioners interested in learning the basics of incorporating scientific safety analysis into NEPA documents, and safety professionals (planners and engineers) interested in understanding the basics of the NEPA process, and where to incorporate safety. Since few NEPA documents contain scientific safety analysis or reference research that demonstrates the safety benefit of planned improvements, the Primer aims to make practitioners aware of tools, techniques, and resources to improve the quality of safety analysis and mitigation identified during NEPA. It also explains how to address safety prior to NEPA, during safety planning processes, and after NEPA, during project construction, operation, and maintenance.

Roadway Safety Noteworthy Practices Database

If you want to know how your peers are successfully implementing innovative approaches to safety program and project planning, implementation, and evaluation, then the Roadway Safety Noteworthy Practices Database is where to find the information. The database makes it easy for states, MPOs, and local safety practitioners to learn about noteworthy practices. The database includes case studies of successful practices organized by topic or by state. Each case study includes a summary of the practice, key accomplishments, results, and contact information for individuals interested in learning more.

Guidance on Minimum Roadway Safety Data Collection

Data is a critical element to defining the safety issues and needs in the transportation planning process. While efforts are underway to improve the quality of the available data, many safety practitioners also recognize the need for an increased focus on integrating crash data with roadway and traffic data. FHWA, through a year long process involving an expert working group, has identified the minimum level of roadway data elements states should collect for their Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) analysis. The guidance identifies the 38 critical data elements for substantive safety analysis. By integrating these data, states will be in a position to make better safety investment decisions.

Regional Concept for Traffic Operations: A Practitioner's Guide

The management and operations of the transportation system are critical elements for improving transportation at the regional and local levels. The Regional Concept for Transportation Operations: A Practitioner's Guide documents the successes and lessons learned from four metropolitan areas as they developed Regional Concepts for Transportation Operations (RCTO), a management tool used by planners and operations practitioners for implementing regional transportation management and operations collaboratively. The approach is beneficial because it engages operators and other stakeholders in the planning process and brings in the perspective of non-traditional stakeholders such as public safety personnel.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

2010 Data Shows Deaths at Lowest Level in Six Decades

U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood announced that updated 2010 figures from NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) showed highway deaths fell to 32,885 in 2010, the lowest level since 1949. This decline happened even though Americans traveled nearly 46 billion more miles during the year, an increase of 1.6 percent over 2009. The U.S. also reported its lowest fatality rate ever recorded with 1.10 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2010, a decrease from the 1.15 deaths in 2009. NHTSA reported deaths decreased for almost every category but increased among pedestrians, motorcycle riders, and large truck occupants.

Federal Transit Administration (FTA)

Multimodal Safety Planning

State DOTs, MPOs, and transit agencies consider safety issues and concerns during the transportation planning process to identify goals, objectives, and strategies for reducing incidents, accidents, and fatalities. To this point, the emphasis in the planning process has been on making the nation's roadways safer. However, there is a need to consider safety risks and countermeasures on a multimodal basis. Transit safety also needs to be a key consideration during the transportation planning processes, not only for risk factors affecting transit riders as they access, ride, and egress the system, as well as workers, but also for tapping transit's role, in selected settings, to serve as a countermeasure in improving the safety of travelers throughout the corridor.

To support all of these cases, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) prepares and delivers guidance and technical assistance for metropolitan and statewide transportation planners to develop a culture of safety, which encourages the consideration of the role of transit in transportation safety at the earliest stages of systems planning. FTA has been a long-standing member of the TSPWG and is currently authoring a paper for the TSP web site, explaining methods for incorporating a multimodal safety culture into the transportation planning process. For more information, contact Charles Goodman at Charles.Goodman@dot.gov or Levern McElveen at Levern.McElveen@dot.gov.

Sample photo of light rail service.

Framework for Institutionalizing Safety

Recommending incorporation of safety into the transportation planning process is one thing, but actually institutionalizing the practice is another. Several years after the introduction of TSP, NCHRP launched a research program, NCHRP 08-76, Institutionalizing Safety in the Transportation Planning Process in 2009. The purpose of the research, which built upon NCHRP 546, Incorporating Safety into Long-Range Transportation Planning, was to identify and document institutionalized methods for addressing safety in the traditional planning process.

The research model involved a literature review, surveys, 45 telephone interviews, in-person interviews in three states with transportation planning practitioners and analysts, on-site research, materials from an updated TSP training course, an expert working group, and the expertise of the research panel and consultant team. The 08-76 final report, expected in early 2012, will report research results and provide a framework for establishing safety as part of the planning culture at state DOTs and MPOs. The framework will include recommendations, actions, and examples for implementing the practices toward ultimately achieving the goal of institutionalizing safety planning. The specific steps included in the framework are the following:

  1. Ensure DOT and MPO committees, policy boards, and other planning structures include representatives with safety expertise, e.g. safety professionals and practitioners, law enforcement, and safety stakeholders;
  2. Safety is included in the vision, goals, and objectives of planning documents;
  3. Safety performance measures are integrated into the overall performance management system;
  4. Data are collected and analyzed for identifying and prioritizing safety issues, projects, and programs;
  5. Safety is an established decision factor for prioritizing safety issues, projects, and programs, and allocating funds; and
  6. A monitoring system is implemented to track the transportation system's safety performance and regularly evaluate the effectiveness of safety programs and policies.

The final report will be published in the near future. For additional information, contact Lori Sundstrom, Senior Program Officer, Transportation Research Board, at LSundstrom@nas.edu.

Got Safety Planning?

Like the popular advertising campaign that urges people to drink milk, we want to know if your agency has integrated safety anywhere in your transportation planning process either directly or by linking your planning activities to your state's SHSP.

If you have a TSP-related project to announce or an achievement to celebrate – we want to know. Please send a brief description along with contact information and a direct web link to your report or project to Nicole Waldheim at nwaldheim@camsys.com. We know there is a lot going on in the field on transportation safety planning. You send us the results – we'll bring the confetti!

The TRB Annual Meeting

The 2012 Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting features a number of committee meetings and panel sessions of interest to transportation planners and safety practitioners. The meetings are scheduled in Washington, D.C., January 22-26, 2012 at the Marriott Wardman Park, Omni Shoreham, and Hilton Washington Hotels. To learn more, visit the TRB web site and use the interactive tool to find meetings and sessions you want to attend.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Systemic Approaches to Highway
Safety (Presentation)
1:30-4:30 p.m.
Marriott, Madison A
The goal of this workshop is to provide an understanding of current and emerging approaches for identifying the best candidate locations and suggested projects for safety investments not picked up by traditional black-spot analysis. This allows states to address the significant number of fatal and serious injury crashes spread across the network.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Highway Safety Workforce Development Task Force
10:15-12:00 p.m.
Marriott, Taft

Rural Road Safety Policy, Programming, and Implementation Joint Subcommittee
1:30-3:15 p.m.
Marriott, Taylor

Tribal Safety Issues Subcommittee
1:30-3:15 p.m.
Hilton, Oak Lawn

Safety Data, Analysis, and
Evaluation Committee
1:30-5:30 p.m.
Marriott, Washington B3

Changing Safety Culture Within
Organizations (Presentation)
3:45-5:30 p.m.
Marriott, Delaware A
Presentations at this event include Making Toward Zero Deaths a Reality; Creating a New Safety Culture in the Nevada Department of Transportation; Walking the Walk: Strengthening the Safety Culture at the U.S. Department of Transportation; and Going Beyond Compliance: Safety Culture as a Corporate Philosophy.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Transportation Safety Planning Subcommittee
10:15-12:00 p.m.
Marriott, Park Tower

Toward Zero Deaths Goal Subcommittee
3:45-5:30 p.m.
Marriott, Park Tower Suite 8219

Roadway Safety Culture Subcommittee
3:45-5:30 p.m.
Marriott, Park Tower, Suite 8222

Highway Safety Performance
(Poster Session)
7:30-9:30 p.m.
Marriott, Salon 2
Some of the presentations at this event focus on crash modification factors, safety performance functions, identifying high-collision locations with volume data, the application of the Highway Safety Manual, and the safety effectiveness of various countermeasures.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New Developments in Highway Safety Research (Presentation)
8:00-9:45 a.m.
Marriott, Maryland B
Presentations at this event include Enhanced Safety Prediction Methodology and Analysis Tool for Freeways and Interchanges; Input to Development of the National Highway Safety Strategy; Recommended Protocol for Developing Crash Modification Factors; and Consideration of Roadside Features in the Highway Safety Manual: A Progress Report.

Highway Safety Management Subcommittee
10:15-12:00 p.m.
Marriott, Taylor
This meeting is sponsored by the Transportation Safety Management Committee.

Implementation of AASHTO Highway Safety Manual: What Is Under Way? (Presentation)
10:15-12:00 p.m.
Marriott, Marriott B
Presentations at this event include an Overview of Lead States Initiatives and Peer Group Efforts along with information from the Ohio, New Hampshire, Washington State, Virginia, and Florida Departments of Transportation.

Transportation Safety
Management Committee
2:30-6:00 p.m.
Marriott, Washington B3

Highway Safety Performance Committee
2:30-6:00 p.m.
Marriott, Hoover

Highway Safety Management Subcommittee
7:30-9:30 p.m.
Marriott, Coolidge
This meeting is sponsored by the Highway Safety Performance Committee.

Member's Corner

By Jennifer Warren, FHWA, Office of Safety

This section is for TSPWG members who want to share information about a program, upcoming research, a new tool, or a conference.

What would transportation safety planning be without good data? We rely on data every day to identify safety priorities and make sound investment decisions. Most of us are familiar with the traditional “go to” data resources, but below are some other useful data resources that other TSP professionals may find of interest.

SafeRoadMaps is a tool that combines information from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System with Google Maps. Newly released Version 3.0 includes new summer hot spots. Developed by the National Center for Excellence in Rural Safety (CERS), SafeRoadMaps is a publicly accessible website that visually communicates issues related to rural and urban road transportation safety. It integrates a range of spatial data regarding motor vehicle crashes, transportation policy legislation, and driver behavioral data presenting a visual representation of traffic safety across the United States.

State Traffic Safety Information (STSI) for Year 2010. NHTSA provides this resource for quick, easy access to traffic safety facts by State. Fatality data is included for various behavioral safety areas (impaired driving, seat belts, etc.) as well as infrastructure areas such as roadway departure and intersections. County data is also provided along with crash location maps (via Google Earth).

Transportation Safety Planning (TSP) State Fact Sheets are available on the FHWA's Office of Safety web site. Each State fact sheet includes the state's SHSP emphasis areas, fatality trends, fatalities in safety focus areas, and rural and urban fatalities.

TSPWG Members

The TSPWG includes representatives from agencies and organizations dedicated to advancing the integration of safety practices in the transportation planning process. The group meets quarterly to identify future research needs and to share new safety planning ideas, tools, and resources. If your organization is interested in participating, contact Rick Pain, TSPWG Moderator, at rpain@nas.edu. The core TSPWG members include:

American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA)

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

American Public Transportation Association (APTA)

Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO)

Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA)

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

Federal Transit Administration (FTA)

Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)

Institute of Transportation Engineers, Inc. (ITE)

International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)

National Association of County Engineers (NACE)

National Association of Development Organizations (NADO)

National Association of Regional Councils (NARC)

National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC)

Transportation Research Board (TRB)

Directions in Road Safety

Managing Editors

Susan Grosser, FHWA

Jennifer Warren, FHWA

TSPWG Moderator

Rick Pain, TRB

Research, Content, Format, and Web Master

Cambridge Systematics, Inc.

Page last modified on October 19, 2014
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