Safety Sidekick Newsletter

Vol. 15
April 2019
Spring is in the air and with it comes a shift in the rural road safety challenges (more pedestrians, slow moving vehicles, construction, car travel for tourism, etc.). To help prepare you for these changes, this quarter's newsletter showcases upcoming transportation conferences, a public awareness campaign for April's distracted driving awareness month, noteworthy practices, and a ton of newly released resources. To further assist you in how to communicate the importance of safety to the public, your colleagues, and elected officials; the Safety Center and NLTAPA are co-hosting a webinar in April on marketing safety, make sure to register today!
One final resource I want to bring your attention to is the handout from the 2nd National Summit on Rural Road Safety. In this 4-page handout, the Safety Center compiled all of the resources mentioned by our speakers/facilitators into one location. This handout is now available for download and please feel free to share it with your colleagues. This handout provides links to resources from several agencies (CDC, FHWA, NHTSA, etc.), as well as, on many topics (data, local road safety plans, systemic safety, marketing safety, etc.).


Steve Albert
National Center for Rural Road Safety
In This Issue
Safety Center Update
Stakeholder Spotlight: Anthony D'Agostino

The National Center for Rural Road Safety would like to introduce you to Anthony D'Agostino. Anthony serving on our stakeholder committee and is a Law Enforcement Liaison (LEL) working for the New York State's Highway Safety Office - the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC).  He is assigned there by the New York State Sheriffs' Association (NYSSA).  Anthony worked for the Rensselaer County Sheriff's Office for 25 years prior to retiring in 2015 to accept the LEL position. 
The law enforcement liaison position provides an excellent pathway for Anthony and others across the country to support highway safety initiatives.  The LEL program, supported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Governor's Highway Safety Association (GHSA), offers a framework for states to have individuals in their highway safety office that enhance communications with law enforcement agencies, ensure greater coordination of crash reduction activities statewide, and coordinate training to increase the knowledge and skills of other highway safety professionals.
Having seen the results of dangerous driving first-hand as an officer, Anthony welcomed his new role in highway safety eagerly with hopes to help make a difference.  He remembers the notifications he made to families of crash victims and wants to see less of those visits occur. 
One of Anthony's goals at the GTSC is to make sure rural road safety is considered when highway safety plans are being made.  Those plans may include the delivery of teen driver crash reduction educational materials to rural high schools and grant proposal training to Sheriff's Offices and Police Departments that are outside of the cities.  In 2017, Anthony coordinated the first New York State Slow Moving Vehicle Symposium hosted by the NYSSA with grant funding from GTSC.  The symposium was an enormous success.  There were over 90 attendees from all walks of life: agriculture was represented by the NY Farm Bureau and individual farmers; law enforcement was represented by 20 police agencies; construction was represented by people from county highway departments and public works departments; there were even representatives from the Amish community present.  The focus was on ways to reduce crashes involving slow moving vehicles and how to better spread the "Share the Road" message.  The 2nd NYS SMV Symposium is scheduled for March 2019.
Anthony has also jumped into the highway safety world on a larger scale in an effort to share what NY is doing to save lives and bring back fresh ideas to the NYS Governor's Traffic Safety Committee.  In addition to the National Center for Rural Road Safety's Stakeholder Group, he sits on the National Sheriffs' Association's Traffic Safety Committee.  Anthony and Sheriff Ron Spike (Yates County, NY) attended and presented at the 2nd National Summit on Rural Road Safety.
Anthony would like people to have a greater appreciation for the loss of life due to motor vehicle crashes.  He reminds us that in 2017, there were 37,133 people killed in vehicle crashes in the United States.  That is equivalent to 185 planes carrying 200 passengers each just one year.  If a plane crashed every two days we as a nation would be horrified and stop at nothing to end the devastation.  One hundred people died every day in car crashes in 2017.  Are we all shocked and disgusted at the loss of life that occurs on our roadways?  Can we do more to prevent crashes and save lives?

Safety Center Blog
Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Check out this video from the National Safety Council on countering Distracted driving!
As vehicle technology improves, today's drivers are potentially more distracted than ever. Whether it is texting, using vehicle internet accessibility, eating on the go, or simply dealing with children in the backseat, there could be a lot more than driving going on while behind the wheel. Indeed, as more and more young people who have grown up with cell phone technology as the norm take to the road, the numbers involving distracted driving have been on the rise. With over 40,000 people having died on our nation's roadways last year, distracted driving remains one of the greatest public health issues facing our country. 

Learn more about distracted driving, including helpful tips to promote safe driving in the April Blog Post 

Continuing to Address Reducing Rural Roadway Departures

FHWA's Every Day Counts Round 5 is in full swing, and among the initiatives in this round is Reducing Rural Roadway Departures. Taking a cue from previous EDC rounds, this new set of initiatives continues to address safety issues with proven countermeasures to work toward reductions in transportation-related fatalities and injuries.

Learn more about Reducing Rural Roadway Departures in the February Blog Post 

Noteworthy Practices
Clackamas County - Traffic Safety Planning Reaches Beyond the Transportation Department

In Clackamas County, Oregon, local officials are not only making traffic safety a priority, they are getting everyone involved in developing the solutions.

In 2017, the County started updating its countywide traffic safety action plan, first developed in 2012. The original plan laid the groundwork for a holistic approach that encouraged all community members and county departments to take an active role in reducing fatal and serious injury crashes.

For the update, planners aimed to strengthen and broaden this approach.  The new plan incorporates new multi-disciplinary research concepts like traffic safety culture, supports national initiatives like Toward Zero Deaths, and promotes transportation safety within - and across - all departments. Click here, to read more about how Clackamas County developed innovative solutions to improve safety.

Teen Driver Campaigns - New York State Engages Coaches and Crash Survivors to Connect with Young Drivers

In New York State, reducing fatal and serious injury crashes among young drivers is a top priority for the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC), and other safety stakeholders. Over the last few years, they have developed several impactful public awareness campaigns that schools and rural communities use to encourage safer driving behavior among teens.

Click here to read more about safe driver behavior programs including Coaches Care and No Empty Chair. 

"Pop-up" Projects Help Communities Test New Strategies

In small towns and rural areas, it can be challenging to secure resources and support for installing innovative safety installations or redesigning infrastructure for multi-modal use. In Bozeman, Montana, transportation partners have found a low-cost approach for testing potential solutions.
The City of Bozeman, the Western Transportation Institute, Montana State University, local non-profit agencies and volunteers are installing temporary or "pop-up" traffic calming projects to 
test their effectiveness and gauge public response.Three projects have taken place in Bozeman so far, and the concept has spread to Helena, Montana as well, with initiative from the statewide organization, Bike Walk Montana. Projects focus on bringing more visibility to pedestrian crossings and reducing vehicle speed through design that narrows the roadway, making it less comfortable for drivers to travel at high speed through residential areas. Temporary materials and paint are used to create colorful crosswalks, pedestrian medians, traffic circles, and curb extensions. Data for each project is collected with traffic cameras to monitor bike, pedestrian and vehicle interactions, and radar speed detectors record speeds of passing vehicles.

Click here to read more about how the City of Bozeman used "pop-up" projects to test safety improvements. 

Safety Culture
Messaging: Using Video to Promote Safety

As safety advocates, we are often searching for ways to maximize our communication with stakeholders. While we rely significantly on the written word and the spoken word, there is great potential to reach people through combined audio/visual means. There are many outstanding videos available to incorporate into your safety messaging. These include storytelling or emotion-provoking videos used as a means of marketing to trigger an emotional response, and videos with an educational premise used for training. We've compiled a list of some videos we would like to highlight for your consideration, and we would love if you know of a safety focused video that you think should be shared; if you have a recommended video, please share with us at
Emotional Videos:
Training Videos:
2019 National Roadway Safety Awards- Applications Due May 31, 2019

The Federal Highway Administration and the Roadway Safety Foundation are now accepting applications for the 2019 National Roadway Safety Awards!

The National Roadway Safety Awards is a biennial competition sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Roadway Safety Foundation (RSF) to recognize roadway safety achievements that move the United States towards zero deaths and serious injuries on our nation's roadways.

The competition acknowledges successful engineering solutions that agencies have integrated into their roadway safety programs. Awards are given in two categories: Infrastructure and Operational Improvements and Program Planning, Development, and Evaluation.

Applicants are encouraged to nominate projects or programs that exemplify innovative and effective safety activities and maximize the cost effectiveness of Federal, State, local, and/or private sector funds by using data-driven approaches to improve highway safety.

Submissions are due on May 31, 2019, and winners will be announced at a Capitol Hill ceremony in the fall. Apply online at:

Speed Management for Safety Resource Hub

The Institute of Transportation Engineers has used funding from the Road to Zero Coalition to develop an interactive website on speed management . The connection between vehicular speed and fatalities/serious injury crashes is not to be overlooked- speeding contributes to nearly one-third of all traffic fatalities. It also impacts pedestrian, roadway departure, and intersection safety focus areas, accounting for nearly 40 percent of fatal roadway departure crashes and 20 percent of fatal intersection crashes (FHWA).

The resource is grouped into four elements of speed management for safety:
Road User
Older Drivers and the Rural Environment

Meeting the transportation needs of older adults in rural areas is a multifaceted challenge-growing population numbers, geography, and infrastructure are all to be considered. As the United States is projected to experience a doubling in the over 65 population in the next few decades, equitable access to transportation services is a necessity that must be addressed. With this in mind, a mix of technological and structural solutions can be applied to address service gaps and secure the transportation needs of older adults.

Rural areas present the biggest challenge to the mobility of older adults due to characteristics such as long travel distances or travel through complex geography to access basic services. Supermarkets, banks, and other vital services are frequently not in close proximity; most importantly, health services like hospitals can be difficult to get to without the help of family members. These factors lead some older adults to delay medical appointments and preventive care. Access to hospitals is on average nine miles farther for people living in rural areas vs. urban ones. Consequently, rural older drivers generally have a greater crash risk due to more vehicle miles traveled. We also know that emergency medical services have longer travel times to patients and service providers, and thus increased roadway safety vulnerability.

As a result of rural geography, infrastructure needs are also vastly different. Transit options found in urban areas generally do not exist in rural locations, limiting the options older adults have in leaving their homes. Furthermore, rural areas also have smaller tax bases with which to fund services, making public transit services harder to come by. Private transportation providers in rural areas also face difficulties in delivering cost effective accessible transportation options due to limited funding, limited trip purposes, and the high cost of long distance transportation. As a result, older rural populations have an overreliance on cars, with one study finding that 34% of older drivers would not make their typical trips if they lost access to their vehicles. A further 70% said they would need to rely more on friends and family to make necessary trips if they lost their vehicle; unfortunately, in many rural areas friends and family liver further away making this option difficult for many.

Reality for many older adults is that they must give up driving. Driving cessation can have a huge cost on quality of life and personal health. In rural areas, losing access to your car can increase your social isolation, reducing your participation in social activities. Driving cessation has also been show to increase depressive symptoms, and a reduction in visits to the hospital. There is a profound health impact that could be an unintended consequence of isolation.

As a result of these geographic and structural issues facing older rural drivers, innovative solutions are required. New technologies, while perhaps not created with the targeted needs of older drivers in mind, can undoubtedly be adapted to help serve this vulnerable population. Technologies such as ride-sharing apps - when expanded to rural areas - can provide seniors with additional, cost-efficient options to make important trips. Automated vehicles have the potential to also help liberate older drivers from relying on friends and family, allowing them transportation independence to make trips on their own schedule. Expanded drone services can allow goods like food and medicine to be delivered directly to one's door, rather than requiring a lengthy trip. Technology can be a key player in reducing service gaps in areas where it has been historically difficult to implement.

As there is no one overarching challenge, there too cannot be any one solution. Instead, a variety of technological and structural measures will be required to ensure equitable access to transportation.

For more information about older road users, please consider the following resources:
Preventing Farm Vehicle Roadway Crashes

Farm equipment on roadways increase in the spring when planting and crop harvesting ramp up. Lighting and reflective signage on farm equipment can greatly improve visibility and reduce the potential for crashes. Motorists often have a difficult time determining the speed at which farm equipment is moving, and the ability to recognize they are approaching potentially oversized and/or slow moving farm equipment sooner may help them adjust their traveling speed to safely negotiate passing or following distance.

This roadway safety issue is not one solely thought of by traditional transportation professionals. The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers has issued standards on lighting and marking farm vehicles to enhance safety. A University of Iowa research study shows that standards such as these have contributed to a decrease in crashes where states require more stringent lighting and marking polices.

Farm equipment vehicles should always follow the rules of the road, use clean reflective materials and slow moving vehicle placards, and be visible all of the time. When possible, these vehicles should use lead cars, use their flashers, and avoid heavy traffic and bad weather. Farm equipment should never allow riders on fenders, or be operated by distracted, drowsy, or impaired drivers.

The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers has created a lighting and marking guidelines pictorial reference that may be downloaded here . They recommend that each tractor and piece of equipment that is on public roads be equipped with two white headlights on the front, as far apart as possible and level, to help with visibility. Flashing amber lights should be mounted in pairs on both the front and rear of the vehicle, at a minimum height of 42 inches. A red taillight should be on the rear left side- if two red taillights are used, one should be far left and the other far right. Two visible red reflectors should be mounted on the rear.

Upcoming Trainings and Events
Upcoming Safety Center WebinarsTrainings

Date: April 25, 2018
Time: 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM Mountain/1:00 PM to 2:30 PM Eastern

This webinar will provide practical techniques for effective communication with stakeholders, leadership, and the public.

Check the Safety Center  trainings page  for more information on upcoming trainings!

New Name. New City.

National Tribal Symposium to Advance Transportation (NTS)
Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina
May 14-16, 2019
The FHWA'S newly renamed National Tribal Symposium to Advance Transportation (NTS) brings tribal, federal, state, and industry leaders from across the United States together around the latest tribal transportation issues and challenges.

Why attend?
  • exchange knowledge and best practices
  • experience new innovations
  • connect with FHWA and other federal agencies
  • meet industry experts and tribal transportation professionals
Plan to visit the NTS Exhibitor Showcase and attend educational and networking sessions.

National Association of County Engineering Annual Meeting

The National Association of County Engineers (NACE) will be holding their annual meeting "Innovation, Collaboration, Bridging the Gap" in Wichita, Kansas from April 14-18, 2019. At the NACE annual meeting, the Safety Center will be presenting the Low Cost Safety Improvement Workshop on Sunday, conducting back to back sessions on the Introduction to Safety Culture on Monday, and will have our exhibit booth in the hall on Monday and Tuesday. We hope to see you there!

2019 Governors Highway Safety Association Awards Program Now Accepting Nominations

Each year, the  Governors Highway Safety Association  (GHSA) recognizes individuals and organizations for achievements in the field of highway safety. GHSA is now seeking nominations for its 2019 awards.  Nominations must be submitted online no later than April 12. Awards will be presented at  GHSA's 2019 Annual Meeting  in Anaheim, California on Tuesday, August 27.

Award Categories are: 
The James J. Howard Highway Safety Trailblazer Award  is GHSA's highest award honoring an individual for sustained, outstanding leadership in endeavors that significantly improve highway safety on a national level.

The Kathryn J.R. Swanson Public Service Award  honors an individual who has made notable improvements in the management or implementation of a highway safety program or policy, or provided outstanding service to GHSA, federal safety agencies or other national highway safety organizations.  

The Peter K. O'Rourke Special Achievement Awards  recognize notable highway safety achievements by individuals, coalitions, organizations, nonprofit groups, businesses, government agencies, universities or programs. Up to five awards are presented.

There is no cost to submit a nomination. For more information, visit 

What's Hot Off the Press?
EDC-5 Aims to Bat One Out of the Park with Focus on Rural Road Safety

With approximately two-thirds of rural fatalities involving a roadway departure (RwD), FHWA has selected " Reducing Rural Roadway Departures " as 1 of the 10 innovations that are the focus of round 5 (2019-2020) of the Every Day Counts (EDC-5) initiative. FHWA and EDC-5 have identified various proven safety countermeasures that can help states improve their roadway safety such as barriers, clear zones, and rumble strips. Interested in learning more, or getting started using this new EDC Initiative? Contact your FHWA Division Office today!

FHWA Administrator Nominee Nicole Nason Calls for More Rural Road Safety at FHWA 

At her nomination hearing in March 2019, Nicole Naston emphasized the importance of Rural Roadway Safety. Nason remarked that while roughly 37,000 people died in highway crashes in 2017, nearly 50% of those crashes happened on the rural roads that make up 20% of the total roadway network. "My priority is safety on all roads, but we must recognize and address some of the unique safety challenges faced by rural communities," she said in her testimony.

Tech Highlight: Develop Inexpensive, Smart Stop Sign to Improve Driver Safety  

In an attempt to make stop signs on Rural Roads easier to notice, professors Sara Ahmed and Samer Dessouky created a low-cost, self-powered intersection detection and warning system to alert rural motorists about potential dangers. Their stop sign uses a multi-pixel passive infrared sensor that detects a vehicle as it approaches an intersection. The system boasts a 90% vehicle detection rate and can classify vehicles accurately nearly 70% of the time. Compared to current traffic sensing technologies, the new system consumes less power and offers greater accuracy, at a fraction of the price. Read more here .

FHWA Report Explores the Use of CAV to Reduce RwD Crashes  

The FHWA Office of Safety R&D recently released a new report, Infrastructure Initiatives to Apply Connected- and Automated-Vehicle Technology to Roadway Departures that addresses the effects and opportunities resulting from widespread adaptation of connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technologies on our roads. The audience for this report includes traffic engineers, highway designers and planners, and other transportation professionals interested in infrastructure development and reducing roadway departure crashes.

StreetLight Data Delivers Accurate 2018 Traffic Counts for Nearly Every Road in the Continental U.S.  

With federal requirements put in place by the "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act" (MAP-21), local and state government agencies must increase reporting of performance metrics for planning and funding allocation. StreetLight Data, Inc, the leader in big data analytics for mobility, today launched Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT) for 2018 on the StreetLight InSight® platform. This new program provides accurate traffic volumes for nearly every road in the continental United States more quickly than previously obtainable. Read all about it here .

CDC Releases Motor Vehicle Prioritizing Interventions and Cost Calculator for States (MV PICCS) Widget  

The Motor Vehicle Prioritizing Interventions and Cost Calculator Widget is based on MV PICCS 3.0, a free interactive calculator that helps states and state decision-makers prioritize and select from 14 effective motor vehicle injury prevention interventions. 

The widget provides states with a quick overview of evidence-based interventions proven to work and a summary of the strategies that are currently being used in each state as well as the ones that could be implemented. It also provides state-specific information about each intervention such as:
  • number of injuries that could be prevented,
  • number of lives that could be saved,
  • monetary benefit of implementation, and
  • cost to implement.
Recent CDC Study Examines Seat Belt Use

A recent CDC seat belt use study entitled "Belief about seat belt use and seat belt wearing behavior among front and rear seat passengers in the United States" was published in the Journal of Safety Research and found the belief that seat belt use was very important in the front passenger seat (84.2%) was higher than belief that belt use was very important in the rear passenger seat (70.5%). This belief corresponded with higher self-reported seat belt use rates among passengers in front seats (86.1%) than among passengers in rear seats (61.6%).  This suggests that efforts to increase seat belt use among high-risk populations, such as those who live in states with secondary or no seat belt laws and those who ride in rear seats (which include people who utilize taxis or ride-hailing vehicles) could benefit from interventions designed to strengthen beliefs about the benefits of seat belt use. 

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