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FHWA Highway Safety Programs

Addressing Rural Roadway Departures on All Public Roads

If we are going to solve this problem, States must work with local agencies to reduce rural roadway departures (aka lane departures) on all roads.

Roadway ownership isn't always clear in the national crash data, so the pie chart below shows where these deaths occur based on functional classification. Ownership of roads varies throughout the country, but arterials are typically under the jurisdiction of State DOTs, while collectors and roads functionally classified as local are more likely to be under the jurisdiction of others. The chart clearly indicates lane departure crashes are a major problem on all types of public rural roads. It is estimated that more than 40 percent of traffic fatalities occur on locally-owned roads.

Rural Roadway Departure (RwD) crashes by the numbers

Rural RwD Deaths

Rural RwD Deaths Chart: 11,674 (34%), Urban & Other Rural comprise 66%

All Roadways are Affected

All Roadways are Affected Chart: Local 16%, Minor Collector 6%, Major Collector 23%, Minor Arterial 19%, Interstate 10%, Other Principal Arterial 26%.

Source: NHTSA FARS 2014-2016

Several States and LTAPs are assisting local agencies in their effort to reduce rural roadway departures. Some examples include:

  • Splitting federal safety funds according to the percentage of fatalities on the State and local system.
  • Summarizing data or providing crash analysis assistance.
  • Assisting in development of local road safety plans.
  • Providing project development assistance or project bundling for multiple local agencies.

Contact your local LTAP CenterState DOT, or FHWA Division Office for more information. We've helped many others across the country and we're here to help you!

Explore the Other Pillars of FoRRRwD

FoRRRwD is supported by four pillars that work together to reduce rural roadway departures on all roads. Click a pillar below to learn more.


Roadway departure crashes are a major problem on all public rural roads. More than 40 percent of them happen off State networks.


There are many flexible cost-effective countermeasures that are proven to reduce these crashes.

Read more about the Countermeasures »


A fundamental challenge on rural roads is that roadway departure crash locations are random and change from year to year.

Read more about the Systemic Approach »


Documenting the systemic analysis into a simple safety action plan is a powerful way to prioritize safety improvements.

Read more about the Safety Action Plans »