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. South Carolina is addressing transportation safety through a "Target Zero" approach, which focuses on zero fatalities 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 South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) hosted a workshop in Columbia, South Carolina with participants from the Councils of Governments (COGs), 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.
South Carolina's Transportation Safety Planning Strengths
The TSP Workshops project complemented and highlighted the safety planning work already underway in South Carolina and provided new ideas for moving forward. Areas where South Carolina excels in transportation safety planning include:
- Implementation of the Rural Road Safety Program, which is improving 100 miles of road every year through systemic safety improvements.
- Utilizing a data driven safety analysis (DDSA) approach, including the incorporation of safety data into the purpose and need for all transportation projects and the development of safety performance functions (SPFs).
- Stressing safety as the number one priority in the project prioritization process.
- Emphasis on sharing crash data analysis, such as network screening lists and crash stack summaries, with regional COG partners.
South Carolina's Notable Practices in Transportation Safety Planning
Project Development Process: SCDOT participated in a DDSA training and developed an Implementation Plan to better integrate data into the planning and project development process (PDP). Activities underway to enhance transportation safety include:
- Incorporating safety data at the very beginning of a project via a project feasibility report.
- Using crash modification factors and SPFs in design decisions.
- Sharing network screening lists with planning partners.
- Engaging the SCDOT safety office in project scoping discussions.
Regional Comprehensive Transportation Safety Planning Approach
SPATS Takes Multidisciplinary Approach: The Spartanburg Area Transportation Study (SPATS) is taking a multidisciplinary approach to the safety needs in their region. On the behavioral side, they are coordinating with the County Coroner, local media, and local partners on media outreach spots to raise awareness on safety. They have also identified the top factors associated with crashes (night conditions, roadway departures, speed, young drivers, and unrestrained drivers) and are coordinating with the SCDOT, the County Transportation Committee and local partners to identify multidisciplinary solutions. On the infrastructure side, SPATS has identified the top seven corridors for intersection crashes (where 55 percent of fatal and serious injuries are occurring) and plan to apply countermeasures at those locations.
GPATS Incorporates Safety into Engagement Activities: For their most recent long range transportation plan (LRTP) update, the Greenville-Pickens Area Transportation Study (GPATS) encouraged the public and other stakeholders to think through how the region could improve the safety of the future transportation network. The conversations about safety, which occurred during extensive outreach activities, suggested that 1) safety should be a priority in all projects, 2) safe places to walk and bike are important, and 3) maintenance efforts should be coordinated with safety efforts. As a result of this input, the LRTP stressed safety as the number one priority in the project selection process. In addition, GPATS accelerated signal timing projects, and allocated funding to support the bicycle, pedestrian, and transit capital projects.
Next Steps for Transportation Safety Planning in South Carolina
- Data Driven Safety Analysis – Continue with the DDSA approach and share the results of the Implementation Plan activities with state and regional stakeholders.
- Analysis Reports – Develop a template or standardized approach to easily share crash statistics or crash locations with regional partners, which can be incorporated into the project prioritization process.
- Outreach – Identify creative ways and opportunities in general to communicate the statewide and/or regional "safety story" to the public and stakeholders.
Page last modified on September 4, 2019