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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

R&T Portfolio: Safety Research and Technology

Safety is the top priority for the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Despite significant progress over recent decades, there were still more than 36,000 traffic-related deaths in 2019. The FHWA is dedicated to the goal of reaching zero deaths and serious injuries on the Nation’s highways. Promising vehicle and infrastructure technologies, such as Automated Driving Systems, could significantly improve roadway safety in the long term, but widespread deployment and adoption is still a long way away. However, there are treatments, strategies, and tools, such as FHWA proven safety countermeasures, that can be implemented today to help reach this goal. The FHWA Office of Safety and the Office of Safety Research and Development (R&D) remain dedicated to reducing highway collisions by improving roadway design and mitigating human factors that cause collisions.

The FHWA’s Safety R&T Program addresses the contributing factors of roadway deaths and injuries related to roadway layout and human factors safety issues. Through its research, the program enables transportation professionals to match crash causes with cost-effective countermeasures. With state-of-the-art safety resources aimed at targeted safety problems, State and local agencies can deliver significant safety improvements to the public.

Safety Research Activities

FHWA’s safety research analyzes where and why incidents occur throughout the country, and identifies design and operations improvements to reduce the number of collisions. FHWA researches collisions on all types of roads, from interstate highways to rural roads and everything in between. As 94 percent of collisions are caused by human driving errors, FHWA places significant focus on mitigating human factors that cause collisions, such as distraction or poor decisionmaking. Roadway design can also reduce the rate and severity of collisions by improving sight distance, providing more space for recovery of an out of control vehicle, and improved markings.

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Images copyrights: Joe Sohm © 2018 Getty Images; WSDOT © 2012 Flickr; Mihtiander © 2015; Joe Sohm © 2018 Getty Images.

Contact Us

James Pol
Technical Director, Office of Safety Research and Development
U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
6300 Georgetown Pike
McLean, VA 22101
United States

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