June 2018

NACE and FHWA Partner to Promote Local Road Safety Plans

By Jerry Roche
      FHWA Office of Safety

Local entities own about 75 percent of the road miles in the United States.1 At the same time, local agencies tend to have the most limited resources to analyze and address safety risks. To help local agencies, the Every Day Counts (EDC) data-driven safety analysis (DDSA) team added a local focus to its efforts for EDC-4.

A primary goal is to increase the number of local agencies that have a local road safety plan (LRSP). LRSPs are a proven safety countermeasure that provide a framework for local practitioners to identify the specific conditions that contribute to severe crashes on their roadways. Agencies can then analyze local data to establish emphasis areas, determine risk factors, identify countermeasures, and prioritize safety improvements and strategies.

As part of this campaign, the DDSA team has partnered with the National Association of County Engineers (NACE) on a pilot project to help 25 Counties in California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Ohio, and Wisconsin develop LRSPs.


The pilot provides agencies with a blended learning experience that includes technical assistance, a series of webinars, and, most recently, a hands-on workshop at the NACE Annual Meeting in Wisconsin that helped participants develop their draft LRSPs. During a follow-up webinar in May, counties will share their final plans and discuss next steps in implementation as well as lessons learned from the pilot.

"Our goal is to get several counties within each state to develop plans through the pilot," said Brian Keierleber, Executive Director of NACE. "Those agencies can then be spokespersons to influence their peers that there is value in investing time in a plan. If we can demonstrate success stories using a simple approach, people will be more comfortable starting their own."

Many pilot participants are already seeing the value of developing a plan and are eager to implement theirs.

The pilot was based on a streamlined approach to developing LRSPs first demonstrated by Washington State and also successfully implemented by several Tribal agencies.

In Washington State, where 33 of 39 counties have an LRSP, Thurston County saw a 35 percent reduction in severe horizontal curve crashes after plan implementation.

"Horizontal curve crashes represented 45 percent of our fatal and serious injury crashes from 2006 to 2010," said Thurston County Traffic Engineer Scott Davis. "Developing our LRSP helped us identify that as a high-priority crash type and also define the highest-risk areas so we could treat them."

Hillary Isebrands, Roadway Safety Engineer for the FHWA Resource Center's Safety and Design Technical Service Team, said that one misconception is that counties must have an engineer or data analyst on staff to develop an LRSP.

"One of the great benefits of LRSPs is that they are scalable, so you can start small with the data you have on hand and don't need to be a specialist," she said. "Many effective plans are only a few pages."

In a survey of county officials in Washington State, most participants reported spending an average of 80 hours to prepare their LRSPs. More notably, all participants said the development of LRSPs was worth the effort.

"Given the benefits and results, there is no reason not to," Scott said.

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