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Local governments face significant challenges in implementing road and street safety improve- ments. They are responsible for local roadway networks, which can vary from a few city blocks to thousands of miles of paved, dirt, or gravel roads. Most local governments have substantial resource limitations in terms of financial support and personnel. As a result, many local agencies have not developed safety programs. This synthesis focuses on identifying safety tools that can be used by these agencies in formulating safety programs. It recognizes the wide variation in the parameters of operation and responsibilities of local agencies. Also, it acknowledges that expertise in transportation safety analysis varies widely among local agencies. This synthesis was prepared for easy use by local agencies as they select their safety tools and develop safety programs. In the broad context of the synthesis, âtoolsâ came to be defined as any ideas, practices, procedures, software, activities, or actions beneficial in aiding local agencies to improve the safety of their roadway network. However, these tools cannot reduce crashes if they are not applied. Anything and everything that works was considered for the synthesis. Therefore, a guiding principle of this synthesis was to examine the tools and proce- dures that are practical and relatively easy to apply. The development of this synthesis was based in part on information collected in a series of surveys. State departments of transportation (DOTs), Local Technical Assistance Program centers, local agencies, and professional organizations were contacted and asked to provide information on best safety practice ideas. The safety tools were grouped into reactive and proactive safety tools, and basic and advanced analysis approaches were considered for each group. The individual tools were linked to a series of user-friendly appendixes that provide detailed information on the specific tool, its application, or references to additional documentation. The best practices of reactive crash analysis of state DOTs using Highway Safety Improve- ment Programs (the front-end-loaded identification of safety needs for a given system) are presented. The emerging proactive safety tools of the Road Safety Audit and the Road Safety Audit Review, which assess the issues of safety using an independent team approach, are dis- cussed as tools to structure many of the best practices. Most local agencies do not employ either of these proactive approaches, whereas state DOTs are just beginning to apply these concepts. The overriding message of this synthesis is that safety practices should be tailored to the problems and resources of an agency and that there is no one-size-fits-all safety solution. Emphasis is placed on the use of tools that will give local agencies a practical and affordable toolbox, with a stronger safety program as the result. Achieving buy-in and persuading local authorities to spend time and money directly on safety improvements were the objectives of this synthesis. Large financial commitments and complex analysis are not always necessary. Historically, liability issues have deterred local agencies from systematically identifying safety concerns, because they are fearful that they will be left vulnerable to tort liability simply by acknowledging that safety deficiencies exist on their local roadways. This synthesis emphasizes that the documentation of an agencyâs SUMMARY ROADWAY SAFETY TOOLS FOR LOCAL AGENCIES
2safety agenda is a necessary defense against tort liability. It is important to note that many sound safety ideas are implemented at local levels without a specific acknowledgment of a safety program. It is essential to recognize that improving the local crash picture will require an increased effort by both experienced and inexperienced professionals. Providing guidance for the local agency to become a more professional safety organization by applying the best and most appropriate tools to meet its needs is the key. Helping local agencies to implement safety improvement is the goal. The conclusion of the synthesis is that a documented local roadway safety program is âthe best safety tool.â Recognizing the need to implement even a rudimentary safety program is the first step. The selection of safety tools to meet the individual local agencyâs needs comes next. Developing the selected tools into a continuing program and implementing safety improve- ments are identified as the keys to local roadway safety.