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Safety Peer Exchange Seeks to Identify, Expand Safety Resources for Local Agencies across the Southeast

by Matt Cate, P.E.

 

The Federal Highway Administration Office of Safety hosted a regional Local Road Safety Peer Exchange in Atlanta on March 6 and 7. The peer exchange brought together representatives from state departments of transportation, local and regional transportation agencies, and Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) centers to discuss topics including: enhancing collaboration and cooperation with federal, state, and local partners; local involvement in the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) and Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP); moving safety projects on local roads forward; and improving local road safety data collection and analysis.

The meeting included representatives from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Tennessee had five participants, including:

Throughout the peer exchange, a number of common issues emerged among the participating states. Included in these issues were limited availability and/or access to local crash data, difficulty in identifying high crash locations or "hotspots" on the local roadway network, and maintaining safety as a key focus for local agency officials who must balance numerous (and often conflicting) priorities set by elected officials and the community as a whole. The lack of local road crash data is especially important as most federal safety improvement programs now require documentation to show that funded projects target locations that have higher-than-average crash rates relative to similar sites within the state.

Each state delegation presented the group with an update on its efforts to include local government in their state's HSIP and SHSP efforts. In addition, several states shared local road safety success stories. Martha Horseman, Kentucky LTAP Director, shared several success stories from their Safety Circuit Rider, Horizontal Curve Alignment training, and equipment loan programs. Dennis Filloon (The Filloon Group) and Michael Frederick (City of St. Petersburg) shared Florida DOT's district-based approach to local safety project development and funding and highlighted the annual District 7 (Tampa Bay area) Safety Summit. Richie Beyer (Elmore County, AL) discussed local agency involvement in Alabama DOT's High Risk Rural Roads program.

Finally, TDOT's own Brian Hurst shared a summary of Tennessee's recent local road safety achievements. On the crash records front, increased local law enforcement participation in the Tennessee Integrated Traffic Analysis Network (TITAN) crash records system, development of the MAP-IT crash location validation system, and inclusion of detailed local roadway attributes in TDOT's Tennessee Roadway Information Management System (TRIMS) database will collectively increase the quality of local road crash data and facilitate local agency access to these data in coming years. On the funding front, TDOT has included local roadway safety projects in several HSIP initiatives, including High Risk Rural Roads, the Local Roads Safety Initiative, and the Roadway Departure Action Plan (RDAP). Inclusion of local road sites in these programs creates opportunities for technical support, including Road Safety Audit Reviews (RSARs), and funding for eligible safety improvements.

As a result of the Local Road Safety Peer Exchange, Tennessee's participants agreed to continue efforts to provide the state's local agencies with improved and easily-accessible crash data, expanded training and technical resources, and funding opportunities to address documented safety issues on local roadways. The state will also seek to increase local participation in Tennessee's Strategic Highway Safety Plan in order to ensure that ongoing safety efforts are focused on reducing the occurrence of fatal and injury crashes on all Tennessee roadways.


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