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DESCRIPTION OF STUDY agency's safety improvement may not all come from safety improvement programs but The aim of the study was to provide answers to key instead safety improvements are incorporated questions by synthesizing current practices in allo- into design guidance or policy. However, only cating safety resources in the United States. A survey provide the discretionary improvement bud- of practice was distributed to all 50 states to gain a get. Please add explanation if necessary. better understanding of the extent to which states are 2. Are there established method(s) that your state using black spot and systematic methods. Because the systematic approach is a relatively new concept uses to determine where safety dollars will be in the United States, agencies are in the early stages of spent? This may include severity or rate rank- applying it. There are questions regarding what per- ing methods of high-crash locations. It may centage of safety budgets should be devoted to each also include systemwide improvements such approach. How should states allocate their limited as edge line or centerline rumble strips for resources to achieve the greatest safety improvements? the whole system regardless of whether a A good first step in answering these questions is to crash has occurred. Please add explanation if look at the current state of practice across the country. necessary. In addition, the states were asked to provide infor- 3. How are your state's districts/regions/etc. mation related to safety-resource allocation based on involved in choosing safety projects? Is your jurisdiction--state highways under the jurisdiction of state's safety funding administered at a cen- the state transportation agency versus local highways tralized location, or are funds distributed to under the jurisdiction of county, city, or other local the districts/regions by formula? agencies. 4. What portion of your state's safety improve- Follow-up case studies were conducted with four ment budget is used to fund safety improve- of the responding states--Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, ments at high-crash locations (black spot and North Carolina--to gain a more in-depth under- analysis)? standing of how these states are striving to balance the 5. What portion of your state's safety improve- two approaches. ment budget is used to fund systemwide On January 27, 2009, a survey of practice was improvements (rumble strips, median cable mailed out to all state traffic safety engineers. A total barrier, signing, pavement marking improve- of 25 states responded (see Figure 4), and the results ments, delineation, etc.) throughout the are summarized in this section. whole system whether or not a crash has The survey consisted of the following questions: occurred at a specific location (systematic 1. Approximately how large is your state's safety improvements)? improvement budget? We recognize that your 6. Has the level of safety improvement funding in your state allocated through black spot analysis and through systematic improve- ments changed in recent years? Please explain. 7. Do you share or grant federal safety funds with local (cities and counties) or regional jurisdic- tions to make roadway safety improvements? Safety Improvement Budgets Discretionary safety improvement budgets vary greatly across the United States. Budgets reported from the 25 state respondents are illustrated in Figure 5. · Seven states, which are generally geographi- Figure 4 States responding to survey of practice cally smaller or less populous, have budgets in (responding states shaded). the $5 million to $15 million range. 7
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200 150 $ Million 100 50 0 e t as ia ta i re i rk n a a a ia n o ia o as a ts ky na a a ur ai on se go ot an ot ga ic ad w in in rn an in et so Yo hi aw uc ns ns so ta ex Io ol ol rm ak ak rg es us ifo ps re si hi or ne lv on nt ka Ka ar ar is H ew M ui D D Vi ic Ve O ol sy nn ch al am M Ke in C C M Ar Lo M C h ew th C N nn sa Te M ut h th H or ut Pe N as So or ew N So N M N Figure 5 Safety improvement budgets of the 25 responding states. · Ten states have budgets ranging from $15 mil- on crash history as well as for more proactive lion to $30 million. systemwide improvements. · Nine states have budgets ranging from $30 mil- · Increased focus is being given to fatal and lion to $55 million. serious-injury crashes, which influences how · California has, by far, the largest safety budget, safety funds are allocated. with an annual reserve of $200 million. The · SHSPs are another influence. For example, amount of California's budget actually spent Michigan reported that "each submitted proj- each year varies based on the number of ect must address serious injuries and fatal- projects that meet qualifying criteria. ities and fit into one of the focus areas of · The average budget for the 25 states that the SHSP." South Dakota noted that road- responded to the survey is $33.1 million. departure crashes were identified as the lead- ing cause of fatalities in its SHSP, and they are focusing on investments that target that Methods for Determining Where particular crash type. Safety Dollars Are Spent Most of the states reported an analytical method Involvement of Districts/Regions based on crash data that also includes a ranking/ Nearly all of the respondents reported that safety prioritization component. Ranking based on benefit- programs are administered centrally, but with signifi- cost analysis is a common method. Some interesting cant input from districts/regions. In many cases, the trends include the following: districts submit candidate locations or projects for · Most states reported that money is being allo- safety funding that are then reviewed, prioritized, and cated for improvements at spot locations based approved by safety staff or committees at the agency's 8
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headquarters. Seven states indicated a distribution of · Increased weighting of fatal and serious-injury funds to districts by formula. crashes, which has lowered the priority of some intersection black spots. · A large number of serious crashes occurring on Funding at High-Crash Locations rural and local roads that are widely and ran- versus Systemwide Improvements domly dispersed across the system. As illustrated in Figure 6, most states target their safety funds at high-crash locations. Some inter- pretation of the responses was required as some Cost Sharing with Local Agencies states provided a numerical percentage, while others The amount of safety funding shared with local provided a more explanatory response. For this rea- agencies varies greatly and is summarized in Figure 7. son, the states are grouped into the three ranges shown in Figure 6. · Seven states indicated that no federal funds The survey asked about budgets specifically are shared with local agencies (one has a state- intended for safety improvements. Several states indi- funded program that allows local applica- cated that some systemwide safety improvements are tions). One reason for this cited by two states accomplished through other funding sources, such as was that the federal aid process is cumbersome 3R and regular construction budgets. for the relatively small amount of funding that There is a clear trend toward increasing the pro- is available. portion of safety funding to systemwide improve- · Eight states indicated that local jurisdictions ments. Fifteen of the 25 respondents indicated that can submit candidate projects or locations that the percentage of money allocated to systemwide compete or are ranked against the candidates improvements either had already increased or would from the state highway system. The amount be increasing, based on in-progress policy reviews. allocated to local agencies varies from year to Reasons for the shift include the following: year, and no typical or average amounts were indicated. · Changes in priorities and strategies that resulted · Four states indicated specific allocations to from the strategic highway safety planning local jurisdictions. California and Minnesota process. have the highest local share with a 50-50 split · The effectiveness of certain systemwide strate- of federal funds. gies for reducing severe road-departure crashes · Three states indicated that the entire public road such as shoulder rumble strips and cable median system is analyzed and that safety funds are barriers. distributed accordingly. Louisiana stated that 100% 100% High-crash Systemwide locations Minnesota (non-metro) Iowa Arkansas Louisiana Colorado Michigan Kansas Missouri Kentucky South Carolina Massachusetts Tennessee Minnesota (metro) Montana New York Note: Unable to determine for California, Hawaii, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and North Dakota. Some North Carolina of these reported that the distribution varied by year. Oregon Pennsylvania South Dakota Vermont Virginia Figure 6 Shares of state safety funding targeted systemwide versus at high-crash locations. 9