Safety Sidekick Newsletter

Vol. 9
September 2017


As was highlighted in our last newsletter, reaching zero fatalities requires collaboration across multiple agencies, organizations, and disciplines. We are continuing with that theme in this newsletter as well.

In this volume, you will read about MoDOTS's collaboration with law enforcement, our experience at an international conference on Traffic Safety Culture, and many new trainings and resources available for your organization. You will also find two competitions and our first ever safety organization spotlight featuring Safe Kids.


Steve Albert
National Center for Rural Road Safety
In This Issue
Safety Center Update
Stakeholder Spotlight: John Miller, P.E.

The National Center for Rural Road Safety would like to introduce you to our Stakeholder Team member John P. Miller, P.E.. John is the Traffic Liaison Engineer in Highway Safety and Traffic for the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and is their former Traffic Safety Engineer.

We interviewed John recently to learn more about what has motivated him to be involved in transportation safety and to share his thoughts with you.

Safety Center John, please give some of your personal history, a little biography if you will.

JM: I want to begin by indicating I am honored to have been selected to serve as a Safety Stakeholder Group member. Rural road safety is very important to me and is a critical part of our effort to drive down roadway fatalities. Growing up on a farm in rural Missouri allowed me to understand dedication, devotion, commitment, and community as well as the importance of a vast transportation system.

This transportation system allowed cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, sisters, brothers, children, my spouse, and my parents to attend a very special occasion - my grandmother celebrated her 106th birthday. My family has always been very close and much of this is directly tied to our rural upbringing. This transportation system has also involved a fatality of a cousin on a rural Missouri road. It also has changed the life of another due to a drinking involved crash. Rural roadway safety is very important and everyone plays a role.

Safety Center Could you tell us a little about how you become involved in safety as it relates to the transportation field?

JM: While I have been directly linked to roadway safety due to personal situations, I have to say it was mostly due to my work in the Traffic Division of MoDOT that led me down this career path. My first experience in safety related to the reviewing of traffic crash reports and determining corrective action. I found the work to be very interesting and even rewarding knowing you were making a positive difference with safety projects you are implementing.

Eventually I was given an opportunity to manage the traffic and safety areas of our Transportation Management Systems (TMS). TMS is a data system that ties our crash, roadway, bridge, roadsides, and other data elements by a common referencing system.  This system has allowed us to make decisions based on what the data is telling us and it has allowed me to have a better understanding of safety. I believe it is a vital element in any safety professional's career to have a data background.

Prior to my current position, I served as the state's Traffic Safety Engineer. This leadership position involved a great deal of public involvement and speaking opportunities at both the state and national level. It involved moving numerous safety initiatives forward using systemic safety analysis to determine opportunity locations for implementation. It involved being a team player while serving on numerous teams including "Data Driven Safety Analysis" member for FHWA, Missouri LTAP Advisory Committee, AASHTO Subcommittee on Safety Management, and various NCHRP research initiatives. The position also involved implementation of the Highway Safety Manual (HSM) within MoDOT.

My current position involves management of the safety section (includes the Traffic Safety Engineer position) as well as signing, marking, access and other various areas in the office of Highway Safety and Traffic. I am also involved with behavioral safety issues working closely with the Highway Safety Director - changing traffic safety culture is vital to bringing down roadway fatalities.

I also want to add that I am very fortunate to have a safety mentor to help me stay the path - Dr. Tom Welch (former State Safety Engineer from Iowa DOT). Tom has always been very helpful and has provided positive guidance over the years, especially when I first began my role as the Traffic Safety Engineer. He always said the State Safety Engineer position at the DOT is the best position to have and he is correct - very rewarding to put in place so many safety initiatives that make a difference.

Safety Center: John, please share an example of a safety activity that you have been involved with, or one that you feel could be a best practice for others?

JM: I want to continue to promote systemic safety analysis and project implementation. I really believe that much of the success we have had in our state relates to our analysis methods and ultimately treatment of "like" situations and locations. For instance, much of our traffic crash issues relate to roadway departure. We used our data to identify a system of roads that share characteristics and treat them all with a safety countermeasure. The easiest example of how we used systemic safety analysis relates to cross-median type crashes and installation of median guard cable. We evaluated our divided roadways and learned early on that spot treatments would not eliminate this devastating crash type. If the situation was similar just down the road, then why not treat it as well. That method has since translated into other safety initiatives and thousands of miles of safety countermeasures installed.

I also want to share a data area best practice. Since 2002, the Missouri State Highway Patrol has "shared" the same crash data system with MoDOT. We are very fortunate that we were able to make this work as it has eliminated any duplication of effort. It has also allowed us to improve our data quality over time since we work closely on data issues. I highly recommend other states emulate this successful effort.

Safety Center If you could share one sentiment with, or make one comment to, the safety community, what would it be?

JM: I was reminded recently of a quote I gave at a conference once to describe our roadway visibility improvements in Missouri. I said, "we want our roads to look like runways" to motorists. In other words, we want to provide visibility features like bright stripes and reflective tabs to assist drivers in all driving conditions, especially when it may be dark and rainy where is becomes very difficult for drivers. These are some of the lowest cost safety countermeasures we can do, but they may make the difference.

Ultimately, it will take everyone for us to get to zero fatalities. You cannot do this alone, so reach out to your peers and share your ideas and countermeasures that are working. And finally, live safety by changing your own culture. If you speed, slow down. If you talk on the phone, stop (even using Bluetooth). If you aren't using the seatbelt, well I'll just stop there.  I hope this is a good read.

Help the Safety Center by Participating in Our Self-Assessment Tool

For the past two years the Safety Center has been working on a study called " Assessing the Operational and Cultural Environment of the Transportation Workforce ", which has focused primarily on state DOTs. Now, we are launching a new study that will specifically focus on local and Tribal transportation agencies. The goal of this new study is to identify strategies to increase access and use of training resources by local and Tribal agencies to improve safety decision making. This study will use an online self-assessment tool to collect data about agency culture.

The new self-assessment tool is now ready for data collection and can be assessed online: 

This self-assessment is estimated to take 15 minutes. All responses are confidential and are not identified with any individual by name or with any agency or Tribe. Please help us engage all relevant staff responsible for roadway safety at any local or Tribal agencies. For example, please forward this link to individuals and mailing lists relevant to local and Tribal transportation agencies asking them to participate in the study and to forward on to others. 

We are encouraging everyone to share their experiences by responding to this self-assessment tool. The more people from these agencies that complete the self-assessment tool, the more valid the results will be. The results of this new study will be compared to the results for state DOT agencies. We will highlight specific factors that are important to the unique cultural and operational environments of local and Tribal agencies.

Safety Center Blog
By: Nicholas Ward, Center for Health and Safety Culture

There is growing interest and commitment at the state and national level to fundamentally change our roadway transportation system to achieve zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries. Such efforts have adopted many labels such as Target Zero, Road to Zero, Toward Zero Deaths, and Vision Zero. All these efforts share a common vision of eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries, but may take different forms and represent different levels of engagement within an individual agency.
Ultimately, the success of any zero goal will depend on the culture of the agency pursuing that goal and the culture within the population of road users that the agency serves. Arguably, the effect of culture is sometimes hard to perceive when you are already part of that culture. So one way to experience your own culture is to visit a different culture. Feeling "foreign" in that environment gives us a chance to reflect on the important elements of our own culture.

Check out the Safety Center blog to learn about the Swedish model for Vision Zero and how we can reflect on this model to improve road safety in the US. 

Sharing the Road with Motorcycles

Per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists are about 35 times as likely as passenger car occupants to die in a motor vehicle crash, and eight times more likely to be injured. While there are a number of things  motorcyclists can do to enhance their own safety, a large number of these collisions occur with other vehicles who are unsure of how to navigate the road around a motorcycle. To remedy this, the Washington Motorcycle Safety Program released a video  to raise awareness about sharing the streets. This eight minute video follows a teen driver who gets a "crash course" lesson in how to deal with motorcyclists, from a person he just hit with his vehicle. The video focuses on important facts to remember, and best practices to avoid future crashes. The lessons can be broken down into three key lessons for other drivers: (1) visibility, (2) vulnerability, and (3) maneuverability. 

To read more about motorcycle safety, check out the Safety Center August blog post.
Want to be an Innovator? Interested in Safety?

Attention high school, community college, and college students! If you're interested in engineering and roadway safety, there's a "Traffic Control Device Challenge" competition currently being sponsored by the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA). This is the second year the competition is being held to recognize innovation and technology that could improve roadway safety through new ideas that address transportation infrastructure safety issues.

Submissions are required to be original design or modification of an industry-accepted design or product that addresses a specific roadway safety problem. Three finalists will be selected for cash prizes and national media recognition.

For full information about the competition, please visit the  ATSSA website. The application is accessible in a  downloadable package.
It's Not Always Clear What Happened

Imagine - a car approaching an intersection tries to avoid a large object in the road, swerves out of the way and hits a lamppost, causing serious damage. Then the car bounces back into the roadway and whereby another car, attempting to make a left turn, T-bones the first car causing even more damage. As the first law enforcement officer on the scene, it's your job to fill out the crash report. What caused the crash? What is the most harmful event? Is the collision between the two cars a left turn crash or a right angle crash due to the angle of impact? As you can imagine, the answer is not always easy to determine.

Check out the Safety Center July blog post to see how the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) is working with law enforcement to improve crash record completion and accuracy. 
Safety Culture
Safety Organization Spotlight: Safekids.Org: Safety Starts with Education

At the National Center for Rural Road Safety, we use a multidisciplinary approach to educate road users and enhance a safety culture around the country. This cultural approach is especially necessary, as achieving sustainable safety goals will only be realized through the reduction of risky behaviors, the increased awareness of best practices, and the widespread acceptance of safety initiatives. Since education is one of the key avenues in which we try to spread that message, the Safety Center is proud to feature as a valuable resource in keeping you and your loved ones safe. has an extensive network of over 400 coalitions in the United States and partners in more than 30 countries with the expressed aim of working with families and communities to keep children safe. Consequently, a large portion of their work concentrates around the efforts to keep children safe from traffic injuries.
Parents can find blogs from experts in the field, entertaining videos with celebrity appearances for you and your children that will help entertain, as well as educate you about best practices, stories from other families, and newsletters with interesting stories and safety tips each month. You can find everything from instilling a safety mentality for your child at a young age, to simply making sure your car seats are optimized for safety.

Educators and parents alike can also find safety plans on the website, geared towards helping children navigate traffic environments safely as a pedestrian. In today's world of handheld gaming systems and cell phones, the dangers of being a distracted pedestrian are at an all-time high. These lesson plans will help you explain to children how to judge the speed of vehicles, proper navigation of a crosswalk, and the importance of weather reflective clothing at night while on their bicycles.

The videos on the site are complemented by safety tips that you can use to guide you and your child while you watch the video. The tips contain fast facts, information from research reports, and presentations from child and road safety conferences. There are also great infographics which you can share on social media or in the classroom.  Educators and parents alike can also take advantage of their " Countdown2Drive " campaign, which helps build trust and respect between teen drivers and their parents. By completing the online sign-up, teens are taught the importance of distracted driving, dealing with other passengers in the car, and other vital safety tips. Most importantly however, parents are also reassured about what their teens are being taught, culminating in a comprehensive passenger agreement between the two parties that results in an educated teen driver, and parent who can be confident in their teen's readiness.

Our Safety Sidekick readers are encouraged to use the resources available on the website within their own organizations and communities. The website content is conveniently broken up into different age groups, so you can find information for everything from babies, to toddlers, to pre-teens, and teenagers. Whether you are buckling an infant into a car seat, teaching your seven year old how to ride a bike, guiding your fourteen year old on the safest way to the school bus top, or giving your seventeen year old car keys for the first time, Safe Kids has you covered. These are PSA and local outreach campaign adaptable resources that can be easily modified to fit specific networking needs. Visit the site today and see what has for you!

Volunteers Needed for Safety Management System Steering Committee

If you are a Tribal employee in a department with transportation safety duties (Law Enforcement, EMS, Injury Prevention, Transportation, etc.) please consider applying to be a member of the Tribal Transportation Safety Management System Steering Committee.  This committee includes representatives from 9 federal agency offices, TTAP, and 5 tribes. During the past two years the committee has made significant contributions to two reports to congress, discussed federal initiatives, and more. 

Apply here by October 17, 2017.

TRB to Sponsor Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP) 2 Safety Data Bonanza

TRB is sponsoring a Student Paper Competition to solicit innovative ideas for using the SHRP 2 Naturalistic Driving Study (NDS) database and/or Roadway Information Database (RID) - together known as the SHRP 2 Safety Data. The competition is open to Master's and Doctoral students.  Abstracts are due by October 28, 2017 .

The purpose of the competition is to encourage use of the SHRP 2 Safety Data and to foster the next generation of leaders in surface transportation research. Abstracts will be reviewed by a TRB committee member panel and up to eight will be selected for further development.

Complete information is available through TRB .

Local Success Story: Lane County, Oregon to Adoption of Transportation Safety Action Plan

Oregon's Lane County recognized that roadway fatalities were a growing public health issue in their county. The Central Lane Metropolitan Planning Organization worked with the county, in collaboration with the Lane County Council of Governments and the Oregon Department of Transportation, to develop a Transportation Safety Action Plan (TSAP). The TSAP was developed to set in place a plan of action to address identified emphasis areas to reduce crashes and fatalities in the jurisdiction.
Lane County was experiencing more roadway fatalities than any other county in Oregon, which prompted a multidisciplinary group of stakeholders to evaluate crash data and develop priorities based on their highest risk emphasis areas. The three emphasis areas selected were vulnerable users, risky behaviors, and infrastructure.
The Board of Commissioners adopted the TSAP on July 18, 2017. The county has now set in motion their targeted work to address their roadway fatality issue through enforcement, education, and engineering.
If you are interested in reading the Lane County Transportation Safety Action Plan, please click here. To learn more about Transportation Safety Action Plans, visit the Federal Highway Administration's resource page here.
Traffic Incident Management (TIM) Web-based Training

In continued deployment of the SHRP 2 Traffic Incident Management Responder Training, a free, online training is available to supplement the in-person workshop. The target audience for the training is individuals from all TIM responder disciplines, including: Law Enforcement, Fire/Rescue, Emergency Medical Service, Towing and Recovery, Emergency Management, Communications, Highway/Transportation and Dispatch within States, regions and localities. Registration is available through the National Highway Institute

Upcoming Trainings and Events
The Safety Center is Out and About

If you're attending any upcoming conferences, you might just bump into one of the National Center for Rural Road Safety team members.

The Alabama Rural Road Safety Conference is being held October 3-5, 2017 in Guntersville, AL and will feature team member Keith Knapp of the Iowa LTAP. Keith will speak about Roadside and Roadside Safety: Measures to Reduce Roadway Departures during the second day of the conference .
Robert Hull of Cambridge Systematics, will be presenting Rural Signs and Marking Issues at the Washington Road and Street Supervisors Conference being held October 9-11.

In October, Danena Gaines of Cambridge Systematics, will be speaking at the Northeast Transportation Safety Conference . The conference will be held October 24-25, 2017 in Cromwell, CT and has a theme this year of Tech, Trends and Tomorrow. Danena will be part of a Best Practices panel.
New In-Person Training Available by Request from the Safety CenterTrainings

The Safety Center has added two new in-person workshops that are available, to your organization, free, upon request:
Developing a Local Road Safety Plan
Length: 4 hour workshop
Audience: Local/rural planners, public works directors, and engineers
Instructors: Danena Gaines, Nicole Waldheim, Robert Hull, and Alex Maistros
This 4-hour workshop focuses on processes for developing local road safety plans, the different types of plans and their components, and data analysis methods to be incorporated in the a local safety plan development process. Participants finish the workshop by developing a list of actionable items to being developing a local safety plan. The workshop includes activities to get participants involved and engaged. Whether you are developing a local road safety plan for the first time, or looking for new aspects to include in your agency's local road safety plan, this workshop will get you ready to drive down fatalities and serious injuries in your community!

Effectively Communicating Safety with Elected Officials
Length: 3.5 hour workshop
Audience: Local road engineers, planners and public works practitioners
Instructors: Pam Beer, Danena Gaines
This 3.5-hour workshop provides practitioners practical methods and tips to effectively verbally communicate technical information to their elected officials and the public through an interactive workshop format. Rural road safety practitioners interact with elected officials at hearings, community information sessions, town hall meetings, one-on-one meetings, and other forums where transportation policies, procedures and decisions are discussed. These events serve as opportunities for local road engineers, planners and public works practitioners to explain traffic safety issues and potential solutions to elected officials.  Participants will learn strategies and tactics to communicate technical information to decision makers and participate in exercises that provide hands on examples for providing clear and concise information on safety challenges and performance.
Request fulfillment is subject to timing and budget availability at the Safety Center. To request one of these trainings, please email us at or call us at (844) 330-2200.
Don't forget, there are additional training workshops available - please check the website for more information.
Upcoming Safety Center WebinarsTrainings

October 2017 - TBD

November 2017 - Achieving Safety Results by Addressing Behavioral Issues 
Date: November 15, 2017
Time: 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM Mountain/1:00 PM to 2:30 PM Eastern 

Rural transportation agencies are increasingly addressing safety in their planning areas and at a minimum, have usually adopted the State's zero deaths concept to frame their transportation safety activities. To achieve this vision, planners identify infrastructure solutions, but behavioral concerns, such as distraction, impairment, and unbelted drivers/occupants are also major issues in rural regions. This session will provide participants with information and resources on the role they can play to drive down fatalities and serious injuries through collaboration across the 4E's, behavioral funding sources, and education campaigns.

To register for this webinar, click here.

December 2017 - The Culture of the Swedish Vision Zero
Date: December 12, 2017
Time: 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM Mountain/11:00 AM to 12:30 PM Eastern

Vision Zero describes a road safety approach that focuses on eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries. There is growing interest in this approach, both in the U.S. and internationally. This webinar will provide an overview of Vision Zero implementation efforts in Sweden.

Sweden has a long tradition of systematic road safety work, of considering road traffic injuries as a public health problem, and of addressing these issues at the national government level. In October 1997, the Swedish Parliament formally adopted Vision Zero as a new long-term goal and direction in road traffic safety work. Vision Zero aims influence road safety work at all levels: guiding direct efforts to make the infrastructure safer, as well as indirectly influencing the institutional preconditions and approaches (culture) that encourage ongoing action by stakeholders to increase the safety of the road transport system. Vision Zero differs from a more traditional road safety policy with regard to problem formulation, its view on responsibility, its requirements for the safety of road users, and the ultimate objective of road safety work. This presentation will provide an overview of the tenets of Vision Zero, summarize the implementation efforts in Sweden, and discuss potential relevance to U.S. efforts. 

To register for this webinar, click here

Federal Highway Administration - Proven Safety Countermeasures Initiative Webinar

Join FHWA on September 28, 2017 at 1:00 PM Eastern for a 90 minute webinar to announce the new list of Proven Safety Countermeasures!

Staff from the Office of Safety will present the six newest members of the Proven Safety Countermeasures family. Attendees will learn more about the overall initiative and review the prior lists of countermeasures. Also, special guests from State and Local agencies will present on their experience with two of the new countermeasures.

To register for this webinar, click here.
Tribal Transportation Program Safety Fund Webinar

The Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for Tribal Transportation Program Safety Fund for FY17 was published on September 21, 2017. The NOFO announces a total of approximately $18 million available to Tribal Governments. A webinar will be held on October 17, 2017 at 2 PM ET to review the NOFO.  

For additional information or to register for this webinar, click here.
Federal Highway Administration - Federal Railroad Administration to Host New Joint Webinar Series

As announced in the most recent issue of the FHWA Office of Safety newsletter, the FHWA Office of Safety recently partnered with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to host a new joint webinar series that will address a variety of highway-rail grade crossing issues, as well as tools and strategies to enhance safety. The first of these free joint webinars was held on June 20th and focused on the new  Highway-Railway Grade Crossing Action Plan and Project Prioritization Noteworthy Practices Guide that was recently published through an FHWA and FRA partnership.

The second webinar is scheduled for Wednesday, October 18th, 2017, from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM ET. The topic will focus on the Highway-Railway Crossing Inventory and will include a discussion on National Highway-Rail Crossing Inventory Reporting Requirements, an overview of the Grade Crossing Inventory System on the FRA Safety Data website, and how inventory information is used. 

Recordings from the joint webinar series will be posted on the FHWA Office of Safety Rail-Highway Crossings Program website as they become available 
What's Hot Off the Press?      
USDOT Announces New Automated Driving Systems Guidance

On September 12, 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released new federal guidance for Automated Driving Systems (ADS): A Vision for Safety 2.0. This is the most current guidance for automated driving systems to industry and States. The document is available to view here.

This new voluntary guidance focuses on the SAE International Levels of Automation for Conditional, High, and Full Automation; clarifies the guidance process and that entities do not need to wait to deploy ADS; revised unnecessary design elements from the safety self-assessment; aligns federal Guidance with up to date developments and industry terminology; and, clarifies Federal and State roles moving forward.

FHWA Report to Congress on Tribal Governments and Safety Data

On May 24, 2017, the Federal Highway Administration published a report to Congress titled " Tribal Governments and Safety Data ". 
This report to Congress contains several recommendations to help improve the quality and availability of safety data in Tribal areas. Improvements in the collection of traffic safety data would allow for tailored programs and projects aimed at reducing vehicular and pedestrian fatalities and injuries. A major recommendation is for Tribal governments to conduct traffic records assessments to evaluate the benefits of improved crash data collection, sharing, and use.

Tribal Transportation Strategic Safety Plan

On August 29, 2017 the Tribal Transportation Safety Management System Steering Committee published the Tribal Transportation Strategic Safety Plan. The Tribal Transportation Strategic Safety Plan offers a national assessment of transportation safety needs in Tribal areas. For each topic the plan provides Tribal Governments with strategies and resources that can be utilized in the pursuit of saving lives. The document is available to view here.

Safety Performance Management Resources

From the FHWA Office of Safety: Safety Performance Management (Safety PM) is part of the overall Transportation Performance Management  (TPM) program, which FHWA defines as a strategic approach that uses system information to make investment and policy decision to achieve national performance goals. The Safety PM Final Rule supports the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), as it establishes safety performance measure requirements for the purpose of carrying out the HSIP and to assess fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads. New resources are available here .

Strategic Highway Safety Plans Database

Interested in seeing what your peers in other States are doing? For a big picture across all state Strategic Highway Safety Plans, browse the SHSP Database.

Reducing Speeding-Related Cras hes Involving Passenger Vehicles: Safety Study
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has released a report that examines causes of and trends in speeding-related passenger vehicle crashes. The study focuses on five safety issues that pertain to effective countermeasures for speeding: speed limits, data-driven approaches for speed enforcement, automated speed enforcement, intelligent speed adaptation, and national leadership. To read Reducing Speeding-Related Crashes Involving Passenger Vehicles: Safety Study, click here .
VOX Releases Video on Wildlife Crossings

Wildlife crossings provide a better way for animals to cross the road and reduce the likelihood of crashes. A new video has been released by VOX with assistance from the Animal Road Crossing (ARC) Solutions partnership showing some innovative wildlife crossings. 
Contributing Authors
Janet Leli,  Rutgers' Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation
Omid Sarmid, Rutgers' Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation
Jaime Sullivan, Western Transportation Institute
Karalyn Clouser, Western Transportation Institute
Nicholas Ward, Western Transportation Institute