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3Lesson: âNever neglect details. When everyoneâs mind is dulled or distracted the leader must be doubly vigilant.â Strategy equals execution. All the great ideas and visions in the world are worthless if they can not be implemented rapidly and efficiently. From Colin Powellâs A Leadership Primer â Part II It is often said that all roads and streets are local. Certainly when a crash and a fatality occur, it is local. The human and economic costs are staggering. Each year, more than 40,000 traffic fatalities are reported. The 2000 economic cost of road- way related crashes was $230.6 billion (1). What can local agencies do to aid in reducing this tragedy? To achieve the stated U.S. goal of a 20% reduction in fatali- ties, or saving 8,000 lives annually, local agencies will need to help. Indeed, local agencies must take the lead if there is to be success. Helping these local agencies to achieve this success is the purpose of this synthesis. Local roadway networks vary from a few city blocks to thousands of miles of paved, dirt, or gravel roads. Unfortu- nately, the local roadway network experiences the highest overall crash rates. Local agencies responsible for these road- ways often have limited resources, staffs, and knowledge of safety tools. This situation is compounded because many local agencies do not have a safety program. Local agency work forces vary widely according to the size of their jurisdictions and their financial resources. Local agen- ciesâ expertise in transportation also varies considerably. Many agencies have no full-time engineer, whereas others have large, trained professional staffs. In addition, these local agencies face the challenge of retaining qualified personnel with the ever-changing work force. Under the best conditions, addressing safety issues on these extensive rural and urban local road networks is difficult, and the lack of resources further complicates the problem. Road- way safety is often subjugated to the maintenance function. Issues are also often ignored or not identified because these facilities carry very light traffic volumes. A brief discussion of local agency characteristics is presented here for interpreting and evaluating the tools presented in the following chapters. LOCAL AGENCY JURISDICTIONS Local roads account for approximately 75% of the nation- wide road and street network, or about 2.93 million miles. Responsibility for managing these roads is vested in more than 38,000 units of local government in the United States, which are generally classified as counties, townships, and cities. Counties manage about 1.74 million miles of road, and cities and townships manage the remaining. There are more than 231,000 bridges on county roads alone, and cities have as many or more. Many of these structures are deficient from a safety perspective and many are reaching the end of their functional life (2). There is significant variation in work force size, responsi- bility, expertise, and resources. Many small cities/townships have limited budgets and employ only a clerkâtreasurer as the full-time employee. Others can support full-time road crews with or without a full-time engineer. Some cities employ a public works director and traffic engineers, and they retain consulting firms to perform selected services. Many counties have a work force in which the road supervisor has many years of on-the-job experience, but little if any formal educational training, whereas others have full-time engineers and/or traffic engineers. The range of expertise and understanding of transportation safety issues varies as well. Safety remains a problem for all local road and street agen- cies, and safety improvements are needed, because fatal crash rates are also the highest on local roadways. The fear of tort liability is an important issue in some local agencies. There is frequently a concern that if safety issues are identified and then not corrected to the latest and highest standards, there will be a resulting liability if a crash occurs. There is also a belief that if a problem is fixed, but not fixed at all similar locations, the potential for liability exists. In general, the documentation of a needed safety improvement is often lacking unless the improvement is underway. Limited understanding of the legal aspects of safety and the preva- lence of tort liability has negatively influenced the need for local roadway safety programs. SYNTHESIS OBJECTIVE The objective of this synthesis is to provide a summary of practical safety tools for local agencies. However, these tools cannot reduce crashes if they are not applied. Meeting the safety needs of local agencies is a considerable challenge, given that these agencies operate in an environment of lim- ited resources. Therefore, it is vital that this synthesis focus on tools and procedures that are practical and relatively easy to apply. CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
4The development of this synthesis was based in part on information collected in a series of surveys. State depart- ments of transportation (DOTs), Local Technical Assistance Programs (LTAP), local agencies, and professional organiza- tions were contacted and asked to provide information on best safety practice ideas. The survey form is contained in Appendix A and the survey results are summarized in Appendix B. Responses were received from 24 DOTs, 36 local agencies, and 22 LTAP centers. In the broad context of the synthesis, âtoolsâ were defined as any ideas, practices, procedures, software, activities, or actions beneficial in aiding local agencies to improve the safety of their roadway network. Anything and everything that works to enhance safety was taken into consideration. Included in the report are discussions of techniques that could be used by all local agencies, regardless of size. Although the professionally staffed agencies of larger popu- lation cities and counties generally do have safety analysis programs, these programs are often reactive crash analysis activities based on examining the locations identified as hav- ing the highest yearly crash rates. Larger agencies typically have full-time traffic engineering expertise and enough financial resources to establish a safety program. However, even these agencies will benefit from several relatively new techniques available to advance the practice. The practices of reactive crash analysis of state DOT use of Highway Safety Improvement Programs (HSIP) are identified. The emerging proactive safety tools of the Road Safety Audit (RSA) and the Road Safety Audit Review (RSAR) are discussed 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 prac- tices should be tailored to the problems and resources of an agency and that there is no one-size-fits-all safety solution. A safety program is important no matter how small the agency. Emphasis is on the use of tools that will give local agencies a practical and affordable toolbox, with a stronger safety pro- gram as the result. SYNTHESIS STRUCTURE The next four chapters discuss safety tools for local agency consideration. Chapter two addresses basic and advanced reactive safety tools. Basic and advanced proactive safety tools are outlined in chapter three. The fourth chapter discusses other basic safety tools for local road and street agencies. Developing a practical local safety improvement program is emphasized in chapter five. Each chapter includes both survey responses and literature summaries and is linked to an appendix, where appropriate. Also included are appro- priate references in the literature, to provide users with a means to seek additional information if desired. CHALLENGES Identifying safety tools for local agencies is challenging. Local agencies have a wide range of responsibilities and expertise and face a variety of problems. The intent of this synthesis is to provide local agencies with the tools neces- sary for initiating and maintaining a safety program without making the process unnecessarily complex. The first challenge is to persuade local authorities to spend time and money directly on safety improvements. To accom- plish this task, the safety awareness of local roadway agencies needs to be raised. If the significance of the local safety problem is recognized by local officials, then local agency managers can be persuaded that a local safety program is necessary. Safety training is an important step in achieving this goal (3â8). A second challenge is that, historically, liability issues have deterred local agencies from systematically identifying safety concerns. Agencies are fearful that they will be susceptible to tort liability simply by acknowledging that safety deficien- cies exist on their local roadways. However, this synthesis emphasizes that the documentation of an agencyâs safety agenda is actually a defense against tort liability. Selling the need for a local roadway safety program will be difficult given the already overburdened time commitments and limited resources. It is therefore essential that sound, effective, and simple methods be available; if no existing local program exists, it is highly unlikely that one will be estab- lished if it is unduly complex. It is important to note that many sound safety ideas are implemented at local levels with- out specific acknowledgment of a safety program. Unfortunately, many current safety tools used for the analysis of crash data are very complex. One method to over- coming this situation is to rely on national and/or state studies to help resolve concerns about implementing existing and emerging safety practices. Another method is to identify which tools are practical, given the resources and expertise of the agency. A third method is to hire the expertise, either permanently or through the use of consultants. These alter- natives for before-and-after evaluations in highway safety are presented in Traffic Safety Toolbox: A Primer on Traffic Safety (9). There are new tools that do not focus on crash analysis, but rather assess the issues of safety using an independent team approach. These are the RSA and the RSAR. Both of these
5practices are designed to focus entirely on safety in the as- sessment of a plan (RSA) or an existing road or street segment (RSAR). These safety tools, which are beginning to emerge in the United States, are based on international practice. They are presented as an alternative to the rigors of statistically based reactive crash analysis. Given the magnitude of fatalities that occur on the local road network, it is essential to recognize that improving the local crash picture will require increased effort by both expe- rienced and inexperienced professionals. Critical to this is the need to recognize and encourage all efforts. Criticizing safety improvement decisions because of the lack of statistical rigor will only exacerbate the problem. Providing guidance for the local agency to become a more professional safety organization by applying the best and most appropriate tools to meet their needs and implement safety improvements is the goal. This effort requires user-friendly tools, positive advice, and the advancement of practical and affordable concepts. In 1969, the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act prompted national attention on environmental issues. The act has continually enhanced the recognition of environmen- tal issues through new legislation and environmental assess- ment. Safety has not had the advantage of such a tool. Given the absence of similar requirements in assessing safety, the following chapters provide an overview of reactive tools, proactive tools, and practical tips for local agencies to interact with the public on safety issues. The appendixes pro- vide opportunities for advancing agenciesâ understanding of these tools. Computer-based software, successful examples, focused safety briefs, and annotated safety references are summarized in the appendixes as well. Reactive safety tools begin the assessment. USING THIS SYNTHESIS The goal of this synthesis is to assist local agencies in imple- menting safety improvements by providing a practical and easy to use summary of safety tools. There are many safety tools that are adaptable for local agencies. This document provides an overview of safety tools ranging from rigorous analysis to applying partner concepts. Throughout the text, references, and appendixes, the emphasis is on practical resource tools. A quick reference guide to these tools is provided in Table 1. This table links the synthesis text and appendixes for each of these tools. TABLE 1 SUMMARY OF SAFETY TOOLS Synthesis Primary Secondary Tools Chapter Annotated References Annotated References Appendix Reactive Safety Tools Basicâhigh crash locations 2 10â13 14â16 H Advancedâstatistical analysis 2 17,18 19 Proactive Safety Tools BasicâRSAR 3 20 I AdvancedâRSA 3 20 J Other Safety Tools Safety study data 4 21 22,23 C Local partners 4 NA 3,24 F, G, L, M Professional organizations 4 NA D, L, M Computer-based software 4 NA E World Wide Web 4 NA C Safety references 4 25,26 15,27 C Work zone safety 4 28,29 Economic analysis and priority improvement tools 4 11,21 15,16 Known safety improvements 4 12,28,30,31,35â37 24,27,32â34,38â41 Emerging Research and Gaps in Knowledge 4 K Local Safety Improvement Program 5 12,42 4,15,16,24,39,41 M Notes: NA = not available.
6Numerous references have also been provided. The primary safety references have been annotated and are presented in Appendix C. It is important to ensure that the latest editions of these publications are used. Using the World Wide Web and LTAP centers is an easy way to stay current (see Appen- dixes C and M). Emphasis has been given to developing a local safety improvement program that is tailored to fit agency needs and available resources. Users should select safety tools, document the safety program, and use the program to enhance safety on the roadway networks within their jurisdictions.