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FHWA Highway Safety Programs

Roadway Departure Focused Approach to Safety

Roadway departure (RwD) is one of three safety focus areas (along with intersection and pedestrian/bicyclist crashes) with the greatest potential to reduce highway fatalities when using infrastructure-oriented improvements. FHWA’s Focused Approach to Safety provides resources to eligible high priority States to address RwD safety through technical assistance such as data analysis, training, and action plan development.

FHWA compares expected versus actual exposure criteria (RwD crashes by VMT, population, and center line miles) for each State. States are designated Roadway Departure Focus States if they have a ratio higher than 1.0 for all three measures.

In the 18 States with RwD safety plans, more than 1,000 lives are estimated to be saved each year once the plans are fully implemented

Roadway Departure Safety Implementation Plans

Since 2009 FHWA has developed RwD Safety Implementation Plans in conjunction with RwD Focus States. The State-tailored plans include systemic implementation of low-cost treatments aimed at specific crash sub-types. The plan includes recommended RwD countermeasures and a set of strategies with deployment levels, and funds needed to achieve a substantial and cost-effective annual reduction in RwD fatalities. A technical workshop for State and local agency stakeholders is followed by delivery of the plan along with a presentation of the Implementation Plan that includes quantified costs and benefits, action steps for implementation, and templates for evaluation. Sample Roadway Departure Implementation Plan.

Over the past 10 plus years, there were over 18 RwD safety plans delivered, more than 1,000 lives are estimated to be saved each year once the plans are fully implemented.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet implemented a Roadway Departure Safety Plan customized with several RwD safety countermeasures to address Roadway Departure Crashes. Read their story…

California utilized a Roadway Departure Safety Plan to Implement several safety countermeasures to address Roadway Departure Crashes. Read their story on their success and challenges…

Across the Nation, every State department of transportation (DOT) is challenged to wisely allocate resources. Agencies are also under constant pressure to increase efficiency in resource allocation. As demographics shift, challenges in managing human resources may also arise as the number of personnel with the expertise to execute agency plans and programs successively fluctuates. Facing this situation, the West Virginia DOT (WVDOT) undertook a unique, rapid-deployment initiative focused on reducing roadway departure (RwD) crashes by dedicating unspent Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) funds exclusively on RwD countermeasures. Here is their story.