Safety is a national transportation performance goal area, but more importantly, it is the number one priority for all transportation system users. For this reason, every state Department of Transportation (DOT), metropolitan planning organization (MPO), and many local jurisdictions are investing in programs and projects to reduce fatalities and serious injuries. California is addressing transportation safety through a "Toward Zero Deaths" approach, which focuses on zero fatalities and serious injuries and the promise to move residents and visitors to their destinations safely. Many different stakeholders play a role in achieving this commitment, with transportation planners leading the way on stakeholder coordination, crash data analysis, prioritizing and programming investments, and tracking and evaluating results.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Safety and Office of Planning provide technical assistance to their partners to address transportation safety. The Transportation Safety Planning (TSP) Workshops projectis one such effort that facilitated open discussions between safety and planning practitioners to further the collaborations on saving lives and eliminating fatalities and serious injuries.
In July 2018, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) hosted the workshop in Los Angeles, California with participants from the MPOs, local safety and transportation partners, and FHWA. The workshop was a part of a yearlong project that also included a pre-workshop webinar to introduce participants to the concepts of transportation safety and planning integration, and prioritize topics to emphasize during the workshop; a post-workshop technical assistance webinar to discuss opportunities and challenges identified by participants at the workshop; and a peer exchange webinar to share successful practices and broaden collaboration with other states who were participating in this yearlong project around the same time.
California's Transportation Safety Planning Strengths
- The Transportation Safety Planning Workshops project complemented and highlighted the safety planning work already underway in California and provided new ideas for moving forward. Areas where California excels in transportation safety planning include:
- The Transportation Injury Mapping System (TIMS), which provides various tools, enabling planners to easily access and use California's collision data.
- Innovative and comprehensive approach to engaging stakeholders in the Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) through relatable branding and annual regional meetings to share and obtain feedback on solutions.
- Strong MPO engagement in safety through innovative analysis, such as the creation of the high injury network, incorporating safety into project prioritization, and behavioral safety programming and implementation.
California's Notable Practices in Transportation Safety Planning
Transportation Safety Planning Tools: California has a number of tools available for planners to ensure they can address safety in the planning process.
- Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS) Query Map – Basic tool for accessing fatal or injury collisions from the state crash database.
- SWITRS GIS Map – Interactive maps with multiple functionalities including intersection rankings.
- Collision Diagrams – Tool to help users generate an interactive collision diagram.
- Safety Target Setting – Safety target setting tool for MPOs.
- Safe Routes to School Map Viewer – Provides pedestrian and bicycle collision maps around schools.
- Active Transportation Project Maps and Summary Data – Identifies pedestrian and bicycle collision hot spots and generates data summaries.
- Motorcycle Collision Map – Simple means to explore motorcycle collisions by jurisdiction.
Behavioral Safety Planning: The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) leads the Go Human campaign, which uses advertising, demonstration projects, partnerships and co-branding, and materials distribution to create safer streets for all users. In 2018, the advertising campaign alone was viewed 375 million times with about one in five residents in the region recognizing the advertising.
High Injury Network: SCAG developed a High Injury Network (HIN) to highlight streets with the highest concentrations of collisions (more than 50 percent) within the local network. Additionally, the HIN has:
- Helped the region more effectively work towards achieving safety targets.
- Helped jurisdictions focus on the most challenging areas.
- Inspired more local efforts to develop HINs.
Project Prioritization: Fresno Council of Governments uses various criteria to prioritize transportation projects in the long range transportation plan. Safety is a part of the total project score for active transportation, capacity increasing, and operations projects. Safety points are awarded to a project based on qualitative information as well as the results of crash analyses, which provide information on whether the project will provide safety improvements in an area with a high collision rate.
Next Steps for Transportation Safety Planning in California
- Local Road Safety Planning – Caltrans will continue to assist local agencies in performing collision analyses, identifying and prioritizing safety issues, identifying countermeasures, and preparing funding applications.
- Communications – Caltrans will engage leaders and stakeholders early and often on transportation safety issues during meetings or through other techniques, such as fact sheets or social media.
- Outreach – Caltrans will continue to engage regional and local transportation stakeholders in annual SHSP meetings to provide important information on safety priorities and countermeasures, and assist with implementation.
Page last modified on September 4, 2019