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LOCATION OF SEVERE CRASHES--RURAL VERSUS URBAN AND STATE VERSUS LOCAL A closer look at where severe crashes occur pro- vides further support for including systematic approaches in highway safety programs. Table 1 illustrates the high percentage of fatalities that occur on rural roads. In 39 states, 50% or more of highway deaths are occurring on rural highways. In 20 of those states, 70% or more of highway deaths are on rural roads. Nationwide, 56% of highway fatalities occur on rural roads. Traffic volumes are much lower on rural roads; as a result, crash frequencies at rural locations are usu- Figure 3 Example of a typical rural lower cost safety ally too low to trigger a safety improvement based on countermeasure. designation as a black spot. For example, rural inter- sections in Minnesota average around 0.5 crashes per year and 0.01 fatal crashes per year. Most black spots enough to identify candidate sites for improvement are in urban areas or other densely traveled corridors through a process that focuses on the total number of while the majority of fatalities are in rural areas with crashes. lower traffic volumes. It is clear that the states expect a systematic approach would be necessary to address The Systematic Method the high number of severe crashes that are widely scattered across rural roadways. The systematic method is being added by a num- As states shift a portion of safety resources to ber of states to their safety planning efforts to better lower cost systematic safety improvements on rural address the very low density of severe crashes in rural highways, another important question is raised: how areas and to complement the black spot component of should resources be shared with local agencies, which their programs. The objective is to identify candidate have jurisdiction over a large percentage of the sites for a wide deployment of lower cost safety mea- nation's rural highway system? Most local agencies sures over many miles of roadway segments, corri- have no staff trained in safety planning and no expe- dors, or even over the entire roadway system. rience competing for funds specifically directed at Road-departure crashes are a good example of improving highway safety. Furthermore, most local where the systematic approach is beneficial. Road- agencies have historically devoted their entire capital departure crashes account for 53% of fatal crashes improvement programs to construction and mainte- in the United States, but they are most common on nance of their systems. rural, high-speed roadways.2 These crashes normally Table 2 documents the estimated distribution of involve a single vehicle and are widely distributed fatalities between highways managed by a state trans- geographically. (As was previously mentioned, the portation agency and roads managed by county, city, density of fatal road-departure crashes in Minnesota or other local units of government (note that the is 0.002 per mile.) Lower cost countermeasures, such FARS data do not specify the roadway jurisdiction. as shoulder rumble strips (see Figure 3) and improved As a result, the state versus local split was inferred roadway delineation, can be implemented on a more from the route signing field. For example, interstate systemwide basis. A number of states have indicated highways were assigned to the state list and county that they expect this approach to be more effective for roads were assigned to the local agency list). Most reducing these types of widely distributed severe states have a significant percentage of severe crashes crashes. occurring on local highways. In 30 states, 40% or more of highway deaths are occurring on the local system. It is clear that providing local highway agen- 2 2007 data from the Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS) cies with technical and financial resources is an published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administra- important component of a comprehensive statewide tion (NHTSA). highway safety plan. 4

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Table 1 Rural versus urban highway fatalities Location Rural Urban Unknown Total State Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent Number Alabama 726 65 380 34 4 <1 1,110 Alaska 44 54 38 46 0 0 82 Arizona 516 48 555 52 0 0 1,071 Arkansas 496 76 153 24 0 0 649 California 1,496 37 2,499 63 0 0 3,995 Colorado 316 57 238 43 0 0 554 Connecticut 47 16 249 84 0 0 296 Delaware 71 61 46 39 0 0 117 District of Columbia 0 0 44 100 0 0 44 Florida 1,257 39 1,942 60 14 <1 3,213 Georgia 836 51 737 45 68 4 1,641 Hawaii 64 46 74 54 0 0 138 Idaho 202 80 50 20 0 0 252 Illinois 501 40 747 60 0 0 1,248 Indiana 569 63 329 37 0 0 898 Iowa 357 80 89 20 0 0 446 Kansas 326 78 90 22 0 0 416 Kentucky 677 78 187 22 0 0 864 Louisiana 520 52 473 48 0 0 993 Maine 164 90 19 10 0 0 183 Maryland 245 40 369 60 0 0 614 Massachusetts 36 8 398 92 0 0 434 Michigan 642 59 445 41 0 0 1,087 Minnesota 352 69 158 31 0 0 510 Mississippi 629 71 255 29 0 0 884 Missouri 686 69 306 31 0 0 992 Montana 263 95 14 5 0 0 277 Nebraska 205 80 51 20 0 0 256 Nevada 122 33 248 66 3 1 373 New Hampshire 105 81 24 19 0 0 129 New Jersey 119 16 605 84 0 0 724 New Mexico 302 73 111 27 0 0 413 New York 672 50 660 50 0 0 1,332 North Carolina 1,226 73 450 27 0 0 1,676 North Dakota 103 93 8 7 0 0 111 Ohio 815 65 440 35 0 0 1,255 Oklahoma 540 70 226 30 0 0 766 Oregon 342 75 113 25 0 0 455 Pennsylvania 765 51 726 49 0 0 1,491 Rhode Island 8 12 61 88 0 0 69 South Carolina 966 90 111 10 0 0 1,077 South Dakota 127 87 19 13 0 0 146 Tennessee 699 58 512 42 0 0 1,211 Texas 1,894 55 1,565 45 7 <1 3,466 Utah 189 63 110 37 0 0 299 Vermont 63 95 3 5 0 0 66 Virginia 612 60 414 40 1 <1 1,027 Washington 353 62 218 38 0 0 571 West Virginia 363 84 69 16 0 0 432 Wisconsin 502 66 254 34 0 0 756 Wyoming 124 83 26 17 0 0 150 U.S. Total 23,254 56 17,908 43 97 <1 41,259 SOURCE: 2007 data from the Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS). 5

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Table 2 Fatal crashes by jurisdiction (highways managed by a state transportation agency versus highways managed by local agencies) Jurisdiction State Agency Local Agency Unknown State Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent Total Alabama 623 56 486 44 1 <1 1,110 Alaska 38 46 41 50 3 4 82 Arizona 462 43 549 51 60 6 1,071 Arkansas 515 79 134 21 0 0 649 California 1,718 43 2,276 57 1 <1 3,995 Colorado 357 64 197 36 0 0 554 Connecticut 212 72 84 28 0 0 296 Delaware 73 62 44 38 0 0 117 District of Columbia 4 9 40 91 0 0 44 Florida 1,956 61 1,242 39 15 <1 3,213 Georgia 1,010 62 627 38 4 <1 1,641 Hawaii 83 60 51 37 4 3 138 Idaho 148 59 104 41 0 0 252 Illinois 761 61 487 39 0 0 1,248 Indiana 497 55 401 45 0 0 898 Iowa 210 47 236 53 0 0 446 Kansas 242 58 174 42 0 0 416 Kentucky 743 86 121 14 0 0 864 Louisiana 803 81 190 19 0 0 993 Maine 117 64 66 36 0 0 183 Maryland 438 71 175 29 1 <1 614 Massachusetts 222 51 212 49 0 0 434 Michigan 432 40 655 60 0 0 1,087 Minnesota 267 52 243 48 0 0 510 Mississippi 497 56 387 44 0 0 884 Missouri 759 77 233 23 0 0 992 Montana 212 77 65 23 0 0 277 Nebraska 137 54 119 46 0 0 256 Nevada 147 39 211 57 15 4 373 New Hampshire 78 60 51 40 0 0 129 New Jersey 330 46 394 54 0 0 724 New Mexico 251 61 155 38 7 2 413 New York 601 45 731 55 0 0 1,332 North Carolina 777 46 899 54 0 0 1,676 North Dakota 57 51 54 49 0 0 111 Ohio 668 53 587 47 0 0 1,255 Oklahoma 526 69 240 31 0 0 766 Oregon 233 51 222 49 0 0 455 Pennsylvania 1,215 81 276 19 0 0 1,491 Rhode Island 36 52 33 48 0 0 69 South Carolina 593 55 481 45 3 <1 1,077 South Dakota 83 57 63 43 0 0 146 Tennessee 807 67 404 33 0 0 1,211 Texas 1,654 48 1,811 52 1 <1 3,466 Utah 205 69 94 31 0 0 299 Vermont 38 58 28 42 0 0 66 Virginia 630 61 396 39 1 <1 1,027 Washington 275 48 294 51 2 <1 571 West Virginia 302 70 130 30 0 0 432 Wisconsin 354 47 402 53 0 0 756 Wyoming 118 79 32 21 0 0 150 U.S. Total 23,514 57 17,627 43 118 <1 41,259 SOURCE: 2007 data from the Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS). 6