Safety Sidekick Newsletter

Vol. 19
July 2020
I am so very excited to share with you all of the amazing announcements the Rural Safety Center team has for you in this volume of our newsletter!
First, registration is now open for our virtual National Summit on Rural Road Safety: Rural Road to Zero, taking place September 29-October 1, 2020! As with our previous summits, we have an amazing line up of speakers and workshops to make this an interactive event with clear takeaways! New additions to this year's Summit agenda include a virtual vendor show and a poster session! I cannot wait for you to join us!
Second, we began piloting Level 1 of the new Road Safety Champion Program this past March and have been hard at work creating all of the training modules. To read more about the program, and the opportunity to take some of these trainings at the Summit, see the article below.
Last, we are excited to announce the inaugural Rural Road Safety Awareness Week to be held September 28-October 2, 2020. Through this campaign, we will be promoting rural road safety to the public, community leaders, and potential partners by telling the "rural story."  To make this social media driven campaign a success, we will need your help! Please make sure you friend us on Facebook (@ ruralroadsafety) and follow us on LinkedIn (@ national-center-for-rural-road-safety) and read the article below for more details on the daily themes!
I hope to see you all virtually in September at the Summit and cannot wait to see all of your #RuralRoadSafety social media posts for #RRSAW2020!

Jaime Sullivan
Center Director
National Center for Rural Road Safety Top
In This Issue
Safety Center Update
Registration Now Open - Rural Road Safety SummitSummit

The National Center for Rural Road Safety is excited to announce that registration is now open for the 3rd National Summit on Rural Road Safety. This virtual summit, taking place from September 29-October 1, 2020, is designed to help you identify strategies and resources for use on the Rural Road to Zero.
Although we are going virtual due to COVID-19 concerns, this 3rd summit will continue its mission as an action-oriented event with interactive sessions, carrying forward the conversations from the previous Moving Rural America and Bridging the Gap Summits. In addition to doing our part to slow the spread of the virus, going virtual will allow us to invite speakers that may not have had the time or resources to travel to an in-person meeting. We also hope that the low registration cost of $40 will allow many of you to join us!
Attendees will be offered many opportunities to engage with high-quality, objective, and knowledgeable speakers and sessions; make new connections; ask questions of experts, and come away with a diverse set of action items to help their region's Rural Road to Zero initiative.
The 3rd Summit will feature:
  • A full day of new trainings (Sept. 29th) for the new Road Safety Champion Program
  • Results-oriented safety strategies for rural areas
  • Action plans for growing positive safety culture in rural communities
  • Resources for applying the Safe System Approach to rural areas
  • A poster session [centered around "How to Make Rural Roads Safe for Everyone"
  • A celebration of Rural Road Safety Awareness Week
  • Virtual networking opportunities
  • A Virtual Vendor show
Join this conversation online September 29th - October 1st, 2020. We need your perspective and expertise to successfully implement the Rural Road to Zero initiative and eliminate all fatalities on rural roadways. Registration is open until September 21, 2020 .

Seeking Vendors and Sponsors for the 3rd Rural Safety Summit Vendors

The Rural Safety Center is inviting vendors and sponsors to take part in the 3rd National Summit on Rural Road Safety, to be held virtually on September 29-October 1, 2020. Sponsorship levels range from $500 for bronze sponsors to $5000 for platinum sponsors. Your sponsorship will put your company or organization in front of the nation's key navigators in the continental rural transportation discussion, including state and local department of transportation officials, law enforcement leadership, health leaders and more.

Going virtual has allowed us to add additional marketing opportunities for our sponsors, including banner ads, push notifications, challenges, and event application sponsorships. This is in addition to the typical opportunities to sponsor a training day, virtual poster session, networking session, and breakout sessions.

New this year, the Rural Safety Summit will also include virtual vendor booths for $500. Do you have a product or resources that would be helpful to rural stakeholders? If so, this is the right opportunity for you! With our virtual format, we are expecting a larger audience than the last two summits, so your booth will be "open" to many more potential clients.

To find out more or register to be a sponsor, click here. For additional questions, please contact Jaime Sullivan at or (406) 994-7368.

Save the Date: Rural Road Safety Awareness WeekRRSAW

The National Center for Rural Road Safety is proud to announce a new initiative that we have been developing over the past year, the inaugural Rural Road Safety Awareness Week (RRSAW), which will take place the week of September 28th - October 2nd, 2020.

In the U.S., 70% of roads are rural while only 19% of the population is ( NHTSA 2020 ). This means there are more than 9x as many lane miles per 100,000 residents in rural areas ( NHTSA 2020 ). Shockingly, the risk of fatality or serious injury is twice as high on rural roads compared to urban roads. Rural roads are important and so are the lives of everyone who uses them. With this in mind, it is crucial to dedicate a week to promoting rural road safety to the public, community leaders, and potential partners by telling the "rural story." We plan to shine a light on rural needs, challenges, and solutions, especially those that help us make progress on the Rural Road to Zero fatalities and serious injuries. Will you help us kick off this new outreach event dedicated to improving safety on rural roads?

RRSAW will be a social media driven campaign, so high levels of social media interaction will be the key to success for RRSAW.  We encourage you to use your own social media platforms to extend the reach of RRSAW's stories and messages:
  • First, please friend us on Facebook (@ruralroadsafety) and follow us on LinkedIn (@national-center-for-rural-road-safety) if you don't already, so you will see our daily posts during the week of RRSAW.
  • Next, please share or repost our messages (or create original ones that highlight your own agency). We will be using hashtags #RuralRoadSafety and #RRSAW2020 for our posts and encourage you to use the same ones.  (Consistent hashtags make it easier to find and track all of the activity that takes place.)
The Rural Safety Center has created daily themes for the week and will release targeted materials for each one:
  • Monday: Defining Rural
  • Tuesday: Rural Safety Champions
  • Wednesday: Rural Road Modes
  • Thursday: Proven Rural Safety Countermeasures
  • Friday: Rural Safety Culture
Through these topics, everyone will have a chance to share their experiences, answer fact-check questions, and learn about the topic of the day. Use our generic hashtags #RRSAW2020 and #RuralRoadSafety AND the specific hashtag of the day to makes sure you are included in the nation-wide conversation.

The Rural Safety Center will be releasing a RRSAW Toolkit complete with social media messages and graphics about a month before RRSAW on our webpage. Please feel free to share this with your colleagues and contact the Rural Safety Center with any questions you might have about the campaign.

We are looking forward to your participation and to proclaiming the final week in September Rural Road Safety Awareness Week in all 50 states. To learn more about RRSAW, click here.

Road Safety Champion Program Pilots Safety Training Workshops

In recognition of the importance of a skilled transportation workforce trained to identify and improve safety on our nation's roadways through data-driven and evidence-based practices, the National Center for Rural Road Safety (Rural Safety Center), National Association of County Engineers (NACE), National LTAP and TTAP Association (NLTAPA), and the West Region Transportation Workforce Center (WRTWC) partnered to develop the Road Safety Champion Program. The certificate program is open to staff from transportation, public health, law enforcement or other agencies, who have responsibility for constructing, maintaining, designing, and operating roads and ensuring roadway safety. To obtain a Level 1 Road Safety Champion certificate, participants complete a series of seven core safety training courses and up to seven additional courses within their specific career pathway. Pathways include: Maintenance and Construction, Planning and Engineering, Public Health, and Law Enforcement.
Five core training modules were piloted by the Rural Safety Center, in conjunction with the Montana Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) on March 3-4, 2020 in Missoula, Montana. The in-person workshops included the following topics: Introduction to Safety (Core Module #1), Traffic Safety Culture (Core Module #3), Overview of the MUTCD (Core Module #4), Reading the Roadway (Core Module #6), and the Safety Analysis Process (Core Module #7). Twenty participants from various municipal and county agencies in Montana, as well as training representatives from LTAPs and state agencies in Alabama, New Jersey, Georgia, South Dakota, and Missouri attended.

Safety Center Blog
Call for Posters - How to Make Rural Roads Safe for Everyone Posters
The National Center for Rural Road Safety invites students, researchers, and professionals to apply to present at a unique virtual poster session entitled  How to Make Rural Roads Safe for Everyone.

In 2019, there were approximately 38,800 motor vehicle fatalities.[ 1] While we know that every demographic is affected, there are some groups that are more frequently affected than others, for example: young people (15-24 years old), men, and rural road users.[ 2] In addition, American Indians are disproportionately affected by motor vehicle crashes; they are one and a half times more likely to die in a crash than whites or blacks.[ 3] We also know that rural pedestrian crashes are nearly 2x as likely to result in fatality as an urban crash of like type and rural bicycle crashes are 3x as likely.[ 4] According to Vision Zero, low-income folks are twice as likely to be killed while walking compared to high income folks and African American and Latino children are 50% and 40% more likely (respectively) to be killed while walking compared to white children.[ 5] Fatality rates for people bicycling are 23% higher for Latinos than whites, and 30% higher for African Americans than whites.[ 6]

Poster Topics
The theme for this poster session was purposely left broad to allow for a wide range of potential poster topics. We invite you to talk about everything rural road safety from research to evaluations to deployment to innovative techniques. Topics could include, but are certainly not limited to,
  • noteworthy practices on the road to zero,
  • safe road users,
  • safe vehicles,
  • safe speeds,
  • safe roads,
  • post crash care, and
  • inequities/disparities in road safety, especially having to do with rural settings.
Poster Session Submission
To apply for participation in this unique poster session, please submit a poster title and one paragraph abstract of your poster topic.  Poster abstracts are due to Jaime Sullivan at by Friday. August 14th. Questions can be sent to Jaime Sullivan at or (406) 994-7368.

For more information on this poster session including session details and poster requirements, click here

Preventing Rural Roadway Departures Continues to be a Critical Topic, But There is Help Available

When the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) selected Reducing Rural Roadway Departures as an Every Day Counts 5 initiative, it was because of the severity of the problem. FHWA reports that e very year, nearly 12,000 people die in crashes when their car leaves its travel lane on a rural road. That's 30 people today, and every day.

There are, however, remedies. The systemic application of proven countermeasures can save lives on all rural roads. To this end, the FHWA was very active in developing resources for State and local agencies to reduce rural roadway departures.

NCHRP Synthesis 515: Practices for Preventing Roadway Departures identifies and summarizes countermeasures being used by state departments of transportation to prevent RwD crashes and identifies the data-driven advantages and disadvantages of these countermeasures.

FHWA recorded Taking Action to Reduce Rural Roadway Departures Systemically.  Webinar speakers and their presentation topics include: Cate Satterfield, FHWA Office of Safety, discussed why it is important for every agency to accept the call to action on this important safety issue; Rick Tippett, Trinity County, California, shared how the systemic approach is the way to make cost-effective improvements to reduce the likelihood of future crashes; and Victor Lund, St. Louis County, Minnesota presented how they have used a local road safety plan to guide them in improvements that have reduced crashes on the county system. The recorded webinar link can be found here .

Another useful tool developed by FHWA is the Rumble Strips: The Sweet Sound of Safety video . This is a little over one-minute long, which makes it an excellent choice to highlight the advantages of rumble strips to any type of audience, including the public.

These resources are just a very few of the plentiful amount available on the FHWA website- check it out for more! You can also subscribe to receive the FoRRRwD email updates.

How are Urban/Rural Fatality Comparisons stacking up?

In many ways, our rural and urban roadway networks function as two different systems that contend with distinct realities in regards to density, land use, travel patterns, and vehicle types. As a result, the characteristics of fatal motor vehicle crashes differ between these two areas. Although only 19% of the U.S. population lives in rural areas, roads in these areas account for nearly 45% of all roadway fatalities. While this share of total fatalities has been trending from highs of 60% in the 1970's, the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled on rural roads is still nearly two times greater than urban areas. Much of this dichotomy can be explained by factors such as human behavior, where crashes occur, and the types of crashes that occur.

Human Behavior
One of the largest factors in the reduction of rural roadway fatalities has been vast improvements in driver behavior. From 2009 to 2018, rural road areas saw significant reductions in fatalities relating to speeding, alcohol use, and seatbelt use. Speeding-related fatalities occurred in almost equal proportions in rural and urban areas. Of the 16,411 rural traffic fatalities in 2018, there were 4,347 (26%) killed in speeding related crashes. Of the 19,498 urban traffic fatalities in 2018, there were 4,958 (25%) killed in speeding-related crashes. Similarly, rural alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities decreased by 23 percent from 6,160 in 2009 to 4,714 in 2018, while urban alcohol impaired-driving fatalities increased by 23 percent from 4,579 in 2009 to 5,649 in 2018. Seat belt usage has also normalized over the years, with drivers in both rural and urban areas buckling up 90% of the time.

Source: Federal Highway Administration
Where Crashes Occur
Crash location is one of the most significant factors in the difference between rural and urban roadway fatalities. In 2018, crash deaths in rural areas were less likely to occur on interstates and other arterial roads than crash deaths in urban areas (41 percent compared with 78 percent) and more likely to occur on collector roads (41 percent compared with 9 percent) and local roads (19 percent compared with 13 percent). In 2018, 15 percent of crash deaths in rural areas occurred at intersections, compared with 32 percent in urban areas. The gap in these numbers are primarily driven by the inherent differences between rural and urban roads, their functions, and their design.

Crash Types
Another large difference between rural and urban roads are the types of crashes that occur. While the number of crashes containing a single vehicle is the same in both areas, urban areas involve a drastically higher number of fatalities involving pedestrians and cyclists, due to the more densely populated areas, often intersections, in which the crashes occur. Of the 6,283 pedestrians killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes, 1,147 (18%) died in rural areas, and 4,975 (79%) died in urban areas. In the same year, 857 were pedalcyclists were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes, with 174 (20%) dying in rural areas, and 645 (75%) dying in urban areas. Conversely, rural areas are more susceptible to rollover fatalities, as there is a higher usage of pickup trucks and SUV's which are traditionally more susceptible to these kinds of crashes.

Urban and rural areas have fundamentally different characteristics with regard to density of road networks, land use, and travel patterns. Through a precise analysis of the crash details, State and local governments, along with the aid of the U.S. Department of Transportation can craft initiatives to focus on traffic safety tailored to the respective areas and the challenges they face. Through these kind of targeted and data-driven analytics, we can reduce fatalities on the nearly 6 million lane-miles of rural roads in America.

Road Users
STOP ON RED Week is Just Around the Corner

In partnership with communities and organizations across the country, the National Coalition for Safer Roads (NCSR) is raising awareness about the dangers of red light running during Stop on Red Week. It is observed each year on the first week of August to educate the public and bring awareness to the number and severity of intersection crashes. During Stop on Red Week, each day is used to emphasize different safety measures, useful statistics, and information related to red light and stop sign running.

Between 2004-2016, an estimated 10,125 people were killed in crashes related to red-light running according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2017, 880 people were killed and an estimated 132,000 were injured in crashes involving red-light running. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that about half of red-light running crash deaths involve pedestrians, cyclists and occupants in vehicles struck by the red-light runners. [1]

Perhaps the most sobering fact is that these crashes, injuries, and deaths are mostly preventable. Through a combination of enforcement and engineering, we can reduce the number of red-light running deaths. However, these measures can only help to a certain extent; the most important way to make a difference is to change driver behavior through education. 93% of people acknowledge that driving through a red light or stop sign is wrong, but 43% still admitted to doing so recently!

Beyond simply observing National Stop on Red Week, this is also a year-long effort to educate drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. If you are interested in joining the coalition, sign up today to stay informed on ways to improve road safety in your community, hear about the latest enforcement measures, and to receive links on the latest research. Take the pledge today!

Final Report Issued from Third Senior Executive Transportation and Public Safety Summit

The Third Senior Executive Transportation and Public Safety Summit: Final Report captures the activities of the Summit held in Washington DC on November 14 and 15, 2019. At this summit, 120 national leaders among transportation, law enforcement, towing and recovery, fire, emergency medical service (EMS), public works, and traffic incident management (TIM)-related disciplines convened to discuss the state of the practice and recent developments within this community.

Traffic Incident Management is a planned and coordinated program process to detect, respond to, and remove traffic incidents and restore traffic capacity as safely and quickly as possible.

The TIM Executive Leadership Group (ELG), was created in 2012 after the first summit. They developed this most recent event with support from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Operations and National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHTSA). The goals for the summit were to accelerate the use of proven TIM practices by inviting new partners and increasing attention to strategic, tactical and support efforts that foster TIM among local agencies; introduce new opportunities (policy, outreach, technology, training) to the broad range of stakeholders to improve TIM; and, to renew focus on TIM at the highest levels of State and local responder agency leadership. The summit included time for all participants to share thoughts and offer suggestions to emphasize TIM at every level of operations within the United States. These inputs coalesced to identify eight "big recommendations" that can be found in the final report.

Roadway Safety Short Videos Available for your Use

These Roadway Safety Shorts are brief videos that illustrate key safety practices when responding to roadway incidents. Developed by the Emergency Responder Safety Institute, these videos are excellent resources to share on social media, watch at roll call or shift changes, or use with training. For many more resources or to learn about the Institute, please visit their website here .

Upcoming Trainings and Events
Upcoming Safety Center Trainings

August 2020

FoRRRwD Countermeasures: High Friction Surface Treatment (HFST) and Continuous Friction Measurement (CFM)
Date: August 11, 2020
Time: 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM Eastern

A n FHWA EDC-5 Webinar in collaboration with NLTAPA and the National Center for Rural Road Safety. This webinar focuses on the Proven Countermeasures pillar. State, local, and tribal agencies - come discover how HFST, a pavement safety treatment, can dramatically reduce roadway departure crashes associated with friction demand issues.
Speakers and Topics to be covered include:
  • Jason Hershock, PennDOT, will discuss the HFST experience in Pennsylvania including manualapplications, winter road maintenance, local agency demonstrations, and bundling of sites to reducecosts. Benefit-Cost analysis and CMF development will also be presented.
  • Andy Vandel, South Dakota DOT, will discuss South Dakota's application of HFST to target the over-representation of roadway departure crashes at horizontal curves with winter road conditions as acontributing factor.
  • Stephen Read, Virginia DOT, will provide an overview of Virginia's experience with HFST and EdgarDeLeon, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, will discuss the implementation of a PavementFriction Management Program (PFMP) using Continuous Friction Measurement (CFM) for VirginiaDOT.
For more information or to register, click here.

Return to Top
What's Hot Off the Press?
Road Safety Audits: A Brief Overview of the Eight Step Process

The Rural Safety Center has released Part 3: Road Safety Audits: A Brief Overview of the Eight Step Process. This 6 minute video is Part 3 in the series of Road Safety Audits Making Roads Safer. This video provides a brief overview of Road Safety Audits (RSAs) and the eight step process. This video defines what a RSA is, describes the eight steps in a RSA, and provides clarification on the difference between a RSA and a Road Safety Plan. The content is relevant for all roads, however, there is a focus on rural roads and roads within tribal lands. It can be found here

TRB Analysis Illustrates Benefits Of Roundabout Intersections

The new National Cooperative Highway Program report - entitled Design Guidance for High-Speed to Low-Speed Transitions Zones for Rural Highways - also found that roundabout intersections, particularly those with only one lane in each direction, reduce the complex decisions drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists must make in navigating traffic, leading to fewer crashes and less severity of injuries when crashes do happen.

State Departments of Transportation Put Pedestrian Safety into Context  

A new guide has studied the relationship between roadway speed and severity of pedestrian crashes and created "context zones" based on how they relate to multimodal travel. The context zones are based, in part, on national guidance such as the most-recent edition of the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Green Book, including zone categories for urban core, suburban activity center, and rural.

New Chevron Video Posted to YouTube  

The Federal Highway Administration has uploaded a new video about cost effective ways to ensure proper Chevron Spacing. The video can be found on FHWA's YouTube channel here .

Early Estimates of 2019 Motor Vehicle Traffic Data Show Reduced Fatalities for Third Consecutive Year  

The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today released preliminary estimates for the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) 2019 data on highway crashes showing a continued decline in traffic fatalities. The nation saw a decline in traffic deaths during 2018 and 2017, and these newest estimates suggest a continuing decline in traffic-related deaths.

Arizona DOT Thermal Cameras Detect Wrong-Way Drivers  

A pilot program on Arizona's Interstate 17 has shown that the state's thermal camera system can detect wrong-way vehicles and alert law enforcement and other drivers of the often-impaired drivers, an assessment report on the system found.

NHTSA Rural/Urban Comparison of Traffic Fatalities  

In May 2020, NHTSA released the new Rural/Urban Comparison of Traffic Fatalities using 2018 Data. This fact sheet can be found here

Rural Connections: Challenges and Opportunities in America's Heartland  

In  May 2020, TRIP (A National Transportation Research Nonprofit) released a new version of their Rural Connections: Challenges and Opportunities in America's Heartland Report. Check out the report here

Contributing Authors
Janet Leli,  Rutgers' Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation
Omid Sarmid, Rutgers' Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation
Carla Little, Western Transportation Institute 
Jaime Sullivan, Western Transportation Institute
Naomi Fireman, Western Transportation Institute
Susan Gallagher, Western Transportation Institute
Karalyn Clouser, Western Transportation Institute