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Erica Terrini

Keeping roadways safe: DOTs highlight countermeasures designed to reduce traffic fatalities

Every roadway countermeasure makes a difference.

Roundabouts, highly reflective signs, pavement markings and all traffic control and infrastructure devices are critical to enhancing safety on U.S. roadways. Countermeasures can mitigate against human behavior-related crashes and ultimately save lives.

With the core purpose of advancing roadway safety infrastructure, ATSSA members design and implement countermeasures.

From east to west, state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) highlight these strategies.

In Mississippi, rural roundabouts have been lifesaving.

At State Route 27 and Lee Avenue, there were three fatal accidents and 16 injury crashes from 2006 to 2017. Since building a roundabout, there have been two crashes and zero injuries, said Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) Public Information Officer Jace R. Ponder.

According to Ponder, roundabouts are designed with a wider radius to accommodate all highway traffic, including freight trucks, and over-sized loads.

“Roundabouts are safer than traditional intersections because they promote a continuous, one-way flow of traffic and have fewer points of conflict. They reduce the likelihood and severity of intersection-related collisions,” said Ponder.

Like Mississippi, the Montana Department of Transportation’s (MDT) countermeasures include centerline rumble strips, wrong way signing, horizontal curve signing upgrades, and flashing yellow arrows. In spot treatments at identified locations, traffic control devices, high friction surfacing, and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) intersection applications are also included, according to MDT Safety Engineer Patricia Walsh Burke.

“These countermeasures each have a different crash modification factor with research behind the predicted crash reduction,” said Burke. “Montana focuses on reducing fatal and serious injury crashes and focuses on locations and countermeasures that will best achieve that goal.

Making improvements to roadway safety infrastructure is one countermeasure. Another is educating the public.

Like other DOTs in the nation, we have used, will continue to use and are currently using basic highway safety countermeasures such as rumble strips, highly reflective signs and pavement markings, guardrail and cable median barriers, traffic control devices, and other geometric improvements,” said Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) Senior Public Affairs Specialist Aimee Inama. “We also have several other countermeasures to educate the public and help keep them safe.”

WYDOT uses Dynamic Message Signs (DMS) to alert motorists of any issues with the roads, if there are issues with weather or if there are any impacts to traffic. DMS is used to alert the public about fatalities from lack of seat belts, drunk driving, distracted driving, and other safety issues, Inama added.

At WYDOT’s 511 website, motorists will find a map that contains layers of information about roads. Those layers include construction, road conditions, web cameras, dynamic message signs, variable speed limit signs, advisories, and road impacts. The 511 website has had 1.5 million hits in 2018, said Inama.

In 2016, the 511 app was created, providing real-time information about roads and weather conditions. It has been downloaded by the traveling public 140,000 times.

Several of the countermeasures DOTs highlight can be found in the FHWA’s Proven Safety Countermeasures initiative.

“These countermeasures are being used by state and local transportation agencies across the country because they reduce roadway departure, intersection, and pedestrian and bicycle crashes and make travel safer,” said Neil Gaffney with FHWA Public Affairs.

DOTs are committed to safer travels.

“Our goal is to reduce traffic fatalities and crashes. We want each and every person, regardless if they are Wyoming residents or an out-of-state visitor, to get to their destinations safely. We will continually work to reduce fatalities and crashes and help educate the public on this vital issue,” said Inama.

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