Systemic Approach to Rural Roadway Departures
Definition of Systemic
According to 23 USC 148(a)(12), the term "systemic safety improvement" means an improvement that is widely implemented based on high risk roadway features that are correlated with particular crash types, rather than crash frequency.
Crash locations are random. Crash types are not. A fundamental challenge on rural roads is that roadway departure (aka lane departure) crash locations are random and tend to change from year to year. It is not cost-effective to apply countermeasures where crashes already happened when they are unlikely to happen again at the same location in the near future.
Rural Roadway Departure Crashes
Source: © ESRI, © HERE, © OpenStreetMap. Annotated by VHB
What if you could use your crash data along with knowledge of your roadway to identify risk factors? Then you could systemically apply countermeasures where crashes are most likely to occur in the future! There are multiple systemic analysis tools to help identify risk factors.
- FHWA Systemic Safety Project Selection Tool
- Crash Tree Maker
- Highway Safety Benefit Cost Analysis Tool
- AASHTOWare Safety Analyst
Benefits of a Systemic Approach:
- Target high-risk roadway features
- Apply proven countermeasures across the network
- Prevent future crashes
To learn more about the systemic approach, visit the FHWA systemic safety web page. The FHWA has developed a 4-hour training course on the systemic approach. Contact your LTAP Center, State DOT, or FHWA Division Office to request the training at a location near 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.
A fundamental challenge on rural roads is that roadway departure crash locations are random and change from year to year.
Documenting the systemic analysis into a simple safety action plan is a powerful way to prioritize safety improvements.