Each year, tens of thousands of lives are lost due to motor vehicle crashes; more than 33,000 in 2009 alone. In an effort to reduce crashes and improve safety, road safety experts at the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) have been working with state and local public safety and transportation professionals to help them institute cooperative programs to address safety issues. One such program is Roadway Safety Assessments (also called Road Safety Audits or RSAs).
In an effort to improve road safety across Connecticut, the CT T2 Center partnered with the FHWA and the CT Dept. of Transportation (ConnDOT) to bring RSA training to Connecticut’s state and local transportation and public safety professionals. The training sessions highlighted why RSA programs are useful, how they work, and how to get a program started. ConnDOT engineering staff, local highway operations and engineering staff, public safety officers, and chiefs of police learned about the principles of an RSA program and then practiced the techniques by participating in assessments here in Connecticut.
Road safety assessments look at sections of roadway with high crash rates. They bring together multi-disciplinary, independent teams to evaluate conditions that may have contributed to the high accident rate and to identify critical strategies to address engineering improvements. Often, these strategies are low cost safety improvements.
There are multiple factors that contribute to roadway accidents. . While some factors lie in the realm of driver error – speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs – many of them lie in the messages that are processed by the driver as they make their trip. Factors such as the pitch and curve of the road, signage, and roadside vegetation can all play a part in reducing the driver’s ability to understand and navigate the roadway correctly.
Once the assessment is completed, the RSA team presents a report to the agency outlining as many issues and suggested improvements as possible to mitigate future safety concerns. The agency can use this report to prioritize future roadway safety improvements. We are hopeful these workshops will help promote regional collaborations among the towns, and with the Connecticut Department of Transportation, to implement low-cost highway safety improvements on local roads within our state.
For more information on Road Safety Assessments and other Technology Transfer Center Programs, please visit our website at www.t2center.uconn.edu