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FHWA Highway Safety Programs

Local Elected Officials: Leading the Way in Local Road Safety Brochure

fhwasa16018.pdf (1.46 MB)


A Call to Action for Local Elected Officials

Local elected officials play a key role in road safety. Your constituents look to you to know the issues, find solutions, and take action to make local roads in your community as safe as they can be.

Know the issues

"Elected officials reviewing plans with her county engineer on a rural road"Across the nation, local roads are less traveled than State highways but have a higher rate of crashes with fatalities and serious injuries.

In 2013, more than 12,000 people were killed on local roads–a fatality rate greater than 1.5 per 100 million vehicle-miles of travel (NHTSA, 2014). This is almost three times the fatality rate of the Interstate highway system.

The overall cost of crashes on local roads was well over $100 billion in 2013 alone, in terms of fatalities, decreased quality of life due to injuries, and economic costs (medical, insurance, and property loss).

Local roads often have narrower lanes and can lack features such as shoulders and adequate lighting. They also serve an increasing number of different users–autos, freight trucks, transit, motorcyclists, bicycles, and pedestrians–on the same traveled way.

Find the right solutions

"Two cars on a curved rural two-lane road"Crashes are caused by a combination of road user behavior, vehicle safety, and the roadway itself.

Effectively solving local road safety issues in your community calls for expertise and participation from various agencies representing multiple disciplines.

Collaboration among representatives of the "4 Es" of roadway safety–engineering, enforcement, education, and emergency services–is a proven way to prevent crashes and save lives.

Engineering: Improving roadway features–such as hidden intersections and shoulder drop-offs–to increase safety and make the infrastructure more forgiving when crashes do happen.

Enforcement: Ensuring compliance with traffic laws to change driver behavior and reduce unsafe driving practices.

Education: Giving road users the knowledge they need to employ safe practices and choose responsible behaviors to accommodate all modes.

Emergency services: Providing fast, efficient emergency medical and trauma services to reduce fatalities and serious injuries.

Take action to make roads safer

"Sun-dappled rural road with traffic signs for upcoming curves"You have the power–and the responsibility–to make local roads safer for your constituents and travelers through your community:

  • Work with road managers to take a big-picture look at road safety on your network.
  • Examine the crash data to understand the types, locations, and causes of crashes on your roads.
  • Develop a plan of action together with transportation agencies, police, emergency medical technicians, educators, and other safety stakeholders to improve safety on your roadways.
  • Seek information on low-cost, proven safety countermeasures as well as various funding options.
  • Engage with transportation safety experts from Federal, State, and regional agencies.

Be a champion for transportation safety.

"A 19-year-old, a mother of two kids, another mother of three kids... They all died, and they died on county roads. Do I ever want to see that? No, I don't. So anything that I can do to support the county engineer to make sure my roads are safe–you bet I'll do it."
–Linda Langston, Supervisor, Linn County, Iowa

"Three elected officials and two citizens cutting a ribbon for a new pedestrian bridge in New York City."

Make local road safety a priority in your community–and save lives.


For further information:
Rosemarie Anderson
FHWA Office of Safety

Photo credits: Michael McCarthy; NYC DOT, Flickr Creative Commons

Page last modified on February 1, 2017