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FHWA Highway Safety Programs

4. Case Studies

4. Case Studies

LRSPs have been implemented by a variety of jurisdictions around the US. This section contains examples of programs implemented to address local rural safety issues.

Ongoing Commitments to Road Safety
Champaign County, Illinois

The agencies in Champaign County mapped out a unified strategy in a multi-disciplinary LRSP (originally called a Comprehensive Highway Safety Plan). This was an effort to continue their commitment to road safety following the State Farm Embedded Safety Specialist Pilot Initiative (ESSI) which was launched in December 2006 in Champaign County, Illinois. ESSI was designed to develop and implement strategies for improving safety by reducing crashes instilling a more integrated safety culture within participating agencies.

The plan envisioned cooperation by various agencies. Each agency’s engineering department would be able to accomplish the engineering aspects of the plan, having both the authority and responsibility to build and maintain a safe road system. Challenges were also identified, including securing sustainable funding and developing partnerships with organizations that can assist with the education and enforcement aspects of the plan.

The plan focused on several key objectives:

  1. Recommending proven safety measures.
  2. Providing a structured and realistic set of responses that implement changes over time.
  3. Integrating a 4-E approach in its proposed solution strategies.
  4. Identifying road safety partners that could sustain a long-term effort.

The process for developing the plan included:

  • Identification of the Champion and Safety Partners: The champion was the MPO, Champaign-Urbana Urbanized Area Transportation Study (CUUATS). CUUATS took the lead on the implementing the process. An important part of the plan process was the identification of road safety partners already in the community. The LRSP served as a basis for setting up a county-wide safety committee which included engineering, enforcement, education, and emergency service representatives. The partners provided substantial input associated with problem identification and prioritization, as well as recommended solutions that were incorporated into the Comprehensive Highway Safety Plan.
  • A Gap Analysis: As a part of the Comprehensive Highway Safety Plan process, agency interviews were conducted to identify safety concerns.
  • Network Screening: Network screening was a systematic process that extracted from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Local Accident Reference System (LARS) database useful information on the risk and potential mitigation of crashes at locations in Champaign County.

The following 13 key road safety issues were identified during the development process:

  1. Intersections.
  2. Information for decision-making.
  3. Alcohol and other impaired drivers.
  4. Driver behavior and awareness.
  5. Roadway departure.
  6. Vulnerable users.
  7. Traffic signs.
  8. Highway-railroad grade crossings.
  9. Work zones.
  10. Large trucks.
  11. Safety belts / occupant protection.
  12. Congestion.
  13. Travel modes.

A set of 36 education, enforcement, engineering, emergency service, and institutional strategies was developed to improve safety in response to these concerns. These strategies were summarized and timeframes were recommended for implementation. Through the committee, a variety of intersection and corridor studies were implemented within the county leading to a number of RSA’s, HSIP-funded safety projects, and a teen driver safety initiative.


Obtaining Data and Establishing Relationships are High Priorities

Lafayette MPO, Lafayette Parish, Louisiana

Financed through grants from FHWA and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the Lafayette Consolidated Government MPO sought to develop an LRSP (originally called a Transportation Strategic Safety Plan).

The plan included more than 250 strategies that incorporated the 4 E’s and varied by cost, proven effectiveness, and the number of partners, among other factors. Lafayette Parish has a high fatality crash rate that is well above the State average.

High-priority challenges were identified: obtaining crash data from parishes and municipalities included in the MPO study area, re-establishing and improving current relationships among enforcement agencies and emergency services, and establishing new relationships among enforcement agencies and Emergency services in parishes now included in the MPO Study Area.

More than 30 agencies were identified as key stakeholders in fostering collaboration, including school systems, law enforcement agencies, cities, departments of safety and transportation, and citizen committees.

Four main goals were proposed in the plan:

  • Protection of drivers and passengers.
  • Protection of all roadway users, such as pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists.
  • Improvement of infrastructure.
  • Implementation of system-wide programs.

The most important goal was driver and passenger protection. Louisiana has been a “primary” enforcement State (i.e., one in which a driver may be pulled over solely for not wearing a seatbelt without needing any other visible infraction) with regards to safety belt usage since 1995, as the most obvious form of occupant protection is the safety belt.

To achieve these goals, the plan proposed the following actions:

  1. Maximizing the use of occupant restraints by all vehicle occupants.
  2. Insuring that restraints, especially child and infant child safety seats, are used properly.
  3. Providing access to appropriate information, materials, and guidelines for implementing programs to increase the use of safety restraints among vehicle occupants.

The plan also listed all of the objectives and strategies along with the associated lead department or agency responsible for their implementation to include partners, approximate cost, and effectiveness.

Two primary measures of effectiveness for the implementation of these strategies were identified:

  1. Safety belt use rate and percentage for the Lafayette
  2. MPO study area.
  3. Number of unbelted fatal and serious injury crash victims and proportion of all fatalities.

The plan includes details about annually reviewing performance measures and guidelines as to how changes may be implemented. Additionally, there is a section devoted to funding implementation and continued management of the plan.

For the 2011-2012 fiscal year, Lafayette MPO proposed the following five recommended actions in their implementation plan totaling $3,210,000:

  • Know Your Traffic Law Program - To educate the public about traffic safety and other risky behavior commonly experienced by Lafayette motorists.
  • Safety Town – To construct a permanent, interactive education facility where children learn about traffic safety in a safe environment.
  • Safety Fair – To educate youth about the basics of road safety.
  • DWI Crash Emergency Room Program – To provide mobile trauma room demonstrations from high school to high school.
  • Judicial Community Service Plan for Traffic Violators – To have judges assign community service hours based on the MPO Safety Plan.


LRSP Generated Using SHSP Model
Olmsted County, Minnesota

Olmsted County prepared an LRSP as part of an effort to reduce the number of fatal and serious injury crashes that occurred on its system of highways. It was part of a coordinated effort with the Southeast Minnesota Towards Zero Deaths organization and the sheriff’s department to identify opportunities for targeted enforcement campaigns.

The traffic safety priorities identified were based on the data-driven analysis of approximately 11,000 crashes that occurred in Olmsted County between 2003 and 2007. The analysis was done in accordance with the guidelines for Federal transportation safety funds and Minnesota’s SHSP.

These primary steps were performed in completing the plan:

  • Conducting a comprehensive crash analysis, including system (i.e., State vs. local), severity, location (i.e., urban vs. rural), intersection-related vs. road departure, and crash type.
  • Identifying Olmsted County’s safety emphasis areas (22 identified causes of crashes).
  • Identifying a short list of high-priority proven safety strategies effective at reducing specific types of crashes.
  • Identifying locations on the county’s highway system that were most at-risk based on a variety of system-wide factors.
  • Identifying safety improvement projects that would be eligible for funding through the State’s HSIP.

Following the same procedure used to generate the State’s SHSP, Olmsted County identified the following emphasis areas as being highest-priority on its local highway system:

  • Driver behavior – young drivers, aggressive driving, impaired driving, and seat belt usage.
  • Specialist users – bicyclists.
  • Highways – road departure and intersections.

Potential safety improvement strategies for each of the emphasis areas were evaluated. The initial list came from the NCHRP 500 Series Reports. Some proposed strategies were then eliminated from further consideration because they were considered too expensive or were experimental strategies that had no history of application in Minnesota.

A safety strategies workshop was held in Olmsted County and was attended by 50 safety partners representing the State, county, townships, and cities, as well as the Mayo Clinic, bicycle advocates, and driver education professionals. The two primary objectives of the workshop included sharing the results of the analytical process and providing a forum to discuss the short list of safety strategies. The participants further prioritized the safety strategies from highest to lowest.

As a result of the strategies identified in the LRSP, safety strategies were implemented county-wide, not just at specific locations. These strategies included the implementing the following safety measures and resulted in $962,000 of federally funded improvements over three years:

  • Improving the edges of rural highways and enhancing delineation of horizontal curves in rural areas.
  • Upgrading the signs and pavement markings, installing street lights, and providing dynamic warning signs at rural stop-controlled intersections.
  • Adding technology at signalized intersections to support increased enforcement levels for red light running.
  • Adding channelization and median islands to restrict/control turning maneuvers at urban stop-controlled intersections.

The potential improvements were low-cost in nature and aligned with the State’s SHSP, placing Olmsted County in a position to qualify for HSIP funding.
The County LRSP also included a section on policy addressing edge line rumble strips and rumble stripes, pavement markings, and pedestrian crosswalks.LRSP Generated Using SHSP Model
Olmsted County, Minnesota


Securing Funding and Developing Partnerships
Sokaogon Chippewa Band of Mole Lake, Forest County, Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) commissioned a multi-disciplinary Tribal Highway Safety Plan to map out a unified strategy to address highway safety on tribal lands within Mole Lake, Wisconsin.

Several challenges associated with implementing the plan were identified, including securing sustainable funding and developing partnerships with organizations that can assist with the education and enforcement initiatives outlined in the plan. Key stakeholders were identified and partnerships were formed between the Sokaogon Chippewa of Mole Lake, WisDOT, the Forest County Sheriff’s Department, and the Forest County Highway Administration.

The following represent the five key emphasis areas identified in the plan:

  1. Interaction of Modes (All-Terrain Vehicles [ATVs], Snowmobiles, Dirt Bikes).
  2. Speeding.
  3. Pedestrians and Bicycles.
  4. Large Trucks.
  5. Enforcement.

Objectives were identified for each of the key safety issues, with short-, medium-, and long-term initiatives in engineering, enforcement, education, and emergency services proposed for each.

Speeding was identified as a great concern within Mole Lake, and targeted in the following safety objective:

Reduce speed- and behavior-related collision frequency and severity, and promote observance of speed limits and traffic control devices to improve safety for all road users.

Potential strategies were identified to reduce speeding in the areas of engineering, enforcement, and education.


  • Targeted education campaigns to high-risk populations (short- and medium-term).
  • Public Service Announcements (short- and medium-term).


  • Coordination with WisDOT on speed enforcement grant through the Bureau of Transportation Safety (BOTS) or the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) (short-term).
  • Targeted enforcement, by time or location (short- and medium-term).
  • Use of permanent speed feedback displays at locations where speeding is a safety concern (short-term).


  • Install gateway treatments on the northbound and southbound approach to the Mole Lake business district (long-term).
  • Install a two-way left turn lane through Mole Lake as a strategy to slow driver speeds (medium-term).

Regarding non-motorized safety, there was a significant pedestrian safety issue on a section of the state highway that crossed Swamp Creek. As a result of the LRSP, an RSA was conducted and the Tribe was able to secure American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding (ARRA) to build a bridge for non-motorized users parallel to the state highway. In addition, sidewalk and marked pedestrian crossings were installed throughout the reservation.

The enforcement emphasis area dealt with partnerships. The Forest County Sheriff was contracted to provide enforcement on the reservation; however, the Department only had authorization to enforce traffic laws on the state highway and county roads. Therefore, the Sheriff had no authorization to enforce traffic laws on the BIA roads and they could only respond to crashes if called by the tribe. The LRSP presented several strategies for evaluating the options to provide enforcement on the BIA roads.


Developed a Model and Framework
Wyoming Rural Road Safety Program

The Wyoming LTAP Center developed a Wyoming Rural Road Safety Program (WRRSP) with funding from Wyoming DOT (WYDOT), Mountain Plains Consortium (MPC), and FHWA, and in cooperation with Wyoming counties. The main objective of the WRRSP was to develop and evaluate a transportation safety program that could help local agencies reduce crashes and fatalities on rural roads statewide. It was written to provide other local agencies with a framework to be used if they were interested in implementing a rural road safety program.

Through this LRSP concept, local jurisdictions qualify for HSIP funding from the Wyoming DOT. Through the Spring of 2011, the WRRSP has allocated more than $1.5 million to implement low-cost safety improvements.

As part of the study, a Local Road Safety Advisory Group (LRSAG) was established, including representatives from WYDOT, the Wyoming LTAP, Wyoming Association of County Engineers and Road Supervisors (WACERS), the Wyoming Association of Municipalities (WAM), and FHWA.

Four subtasks were identified in the WRRSP:

  1. Identify roadway classifications systems used by counties in Wyoming.
  2. Develop a methodology for using available data (crash records, traffic volume, speed, etc.) for crash prediction on rural roads.
  3. Establish a five-step methodology to identify safety measures on high-risk rural roads.
  4. Develop a procedure to perform economic analysis for safety measures.

The report consisted of seven sections:

  1. Introduction.
  2. Summaries of literature reviews for each of the three research objectives.
  3. Introduction of the detailed procedure of the WRRSP.
  4. The roadway classification survey and its results.
  5. The regression model methodology used to predict crashes on rural roads.
  6. The procedure for performing economic analysis for safety improvements.
  7. Summation of the conclusions and recommendations for future studies.

The plan also provides forms, guidelines, photos, surveys, and sample data useful for implementing this framework in other jurisdictions.