Reducing fatalities on rural roads remains a major challenge in the United States. In 2016, 18,590 lives were lost on rural roads—more than half of all traffic deaths—even though only 19 percent of the U.S. population lives in rural areas. Two-thirds of these rural fatalities involved a roadway departure, where a vehicle crosses a center line, an edge line, or otherwise leaves its travel lane.
Roadway departure countermeasures are regularly used on roads with higher functional classifications and are proven methods for reducing crashes and improving the safety of the transportation system. Crash modification factors have been developed and promoted for several of these countermeasures, and they can be applied more broadly using existing tools and processes.