Safety Sidekick Newsletter

Vol. 14
January 2019
Thank you to everyone who was able to join us at the 2nd National Summit on Rural Road Safety in Savannah, GA at the beginning of December! The speakers, facilitators, and moderators provided actionable takeaways that certainly left us empowered to continue our work for improving rural road safety and we hope you feel the same way!
I'd like to take the time to once again thank our co-host, the National Association of County Engineers (NACE), as well as, the sponsors, who made the summit possible: AASHTO, Cambridge Systematics, the Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) at Rutgers, and Lux Solar.
If you were not able to attend the summit, we would encourage you to visit the summit's webpage to view the available presentations ( Also, be on the lookout for an upcoming Safety Center webinar that will share the key messages and take-aways from the summit. 


Steve Albert
National Center for Rural Road Safety
Safety Center Update
Stakeholder Spotlight: Joseph Marek

This issue, we are happy to introduce our readers to Stakeholder Team member Joseph Marek. Joe is the Traffic Safety Program Manager for Clackamas County, Oregon and we are happy to have him on board as a county agency representative.

Joe has always had a love of transportation and it was only fitting that he became a transportation engineer after pursuing a bachelor's and master's degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Idaho. He enjoys all modes of transportation- walking, biking, motorcycling, even horseback riding! Using all of these different modes has certainly helped diversify his perspective as a designer.

His career with Clackamas County began nearly 28 years ago after some time spent in consulting. While he has always been interested in safety, it started to progressively increase after he assumed the role as Staff Liaison for the Clackamas County Traffic Safety Commission in the mid-1990's. This group helped sharpen his focus on safety. Joe says "safety resonated with me due to a severe crash that my family was in when I was very young resulting in severe injuries to my parents." One of his most important career achievements was leading the effort at Clackamas County to develop a Transportation Safety Action Plan in 2012.

The safety program has grown at the County to where there is now a Traffic Safety Program with its own budget line and there are County-wide performance measures associated with fatalities that are reported quarterly. Joe shared with us that he has " incredible team of professionals that I work with that help get all of the good work done".

The Safety Center asked Joe if he would share an example of a safety activity that he was involved with, or one that could be a best practice for others.Joe makes three suggestions that can really allow an individual to help make a positive impact on local road safety -
  1. Leading the effort for a Transportation Safety Action Plan
  2. Participating in a road safety audit
  3. Sharing traffic safety efforts at community meetings
We also asked Joe if he could share one sentiment with the safety community, what would it be? He gives us this food for thought: "Traffic Safety starts with you! As I do my work I believe that everyone deserves to get home safely to their family every night. I can set a good example by being a safe user of the transportation system regardless of my mode of choice. Also, I believe it is very important not to be judgmental about people since we do not know their situation when a crash occurs. People do not wake up in the morning with the intention of being in a crash. When we look at our own transportation system, we need to think about it from the user's perspective and, for a moment, cast aside our knowledge of standards to imagine what the road is not communicating to a driver that may be a contributing cause to a crash. Then, we can better figure out what we can do to improve it. Lastly, sometimes what we do might not work and it's ok to admit that and make changes".

2nd National Summit on Rural Road Safety: Bridging the Gap

Photo Courtesy of ARA

The 2nd National Summit on Rural Road Safety, co-hosted by the National Center for Rural Road Safety (Safety Center) and the National Association of County Engineers ( NACE ), was held December 4-6, 2018 in Savannah, GA. The summit was made possible by sponsors including: AASHTO , the Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) at Rutgers, Cambridge Systematics, and Lux Solar.

There were over 110 attendees including keynote speaker Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Deputy Administrator Brandye Hendrickson.
The summit was an action oriented event with interactive sessions that provided REAL takeaways to assist attendees on their Road to Zero. A great group of speakers, facilitators and trainers were assembled to assist and inspire attendees with the hopes that attendees would leave feeling empowered to improve the safety of the rural roadway systems within their jurisdictions. An example of topics discussed at the summit includes: developing an elevator speech, collaboration, systemic safety, workforce development, and local road safety plans. Pre-summit, three training workshops were conducted including: an introduction to safety culture, systemic safety, and low cost safety improvements.
Attendees felt that "this summit opened [their] eyes to other state's/counties' issues and how they approach [them]" while others felt that the most beneficial thing they gained/learned was the "public health relation to highway safety;" that "there are a million good ways to go about improving rural safety;" "insight into behavior modification that works/doesn't work;" and "knowledge of the systemic safety approach and general infrastructure."
If you were unable to attend, but are interested in learning more about the summit, the presentations from the summit can now be found at: The safety center will also host a webinar later this winter to provide a recap and key takeaways from the summit. For more details, keep an eye on our webinar registration page .
Remember, together we can make a difference in improving safety for your family, community, and all road users!

Safety Center Blog
Staying in the Lane

Rural road safety is often highlighte d as a major safety issue since nearly 50% of traffic fatalities occur on rural road networks, even though only 19% of the US population lives in rural areas. A lesser known statistic is that fully two-thirds of these rural fatalities is a roadway departure, where a vehicle veers outside of its travel lane. It's clear that when attempting to address the overall issue of rural road safety, special attention must be paid to roadway departures.  To learn more about rural roadway departures, read the Safety Center's November Blog Post.  

Every October is International Walk to School Month

Every October is International Walk to School Month - an opportunity for children to join hundreds of thousands of pupils across the globe celebrating the walk to school as well as giving them a chance to celebrate the many benefits of walking.  Only a few decades ago, 48 percent of children aged 5 to 14 years usually walked or biked to school; by 2010, that number had dropped to 13 percent. In an attempt stop the downward trend, the first National Walk to School Day was held in 1997 as an attempt in the United States to raise awareness for the need of more walkable communities. The event became international when the United Kingdom and Canada joined, promoting more interest in countries around the world. Over time, this event has been part of a movement for year-round safe routes to school and a celebration - with record breaking participation - each October. To learn more about the benefits of walking or bicycling to school in the Safety Center October Blog Post

Toward Zero Deaths Research Survey for AASHTO

After several years of declining traffic fatalities, we are seeing increasing numbers of lives lost on our highway and streets. What needs to be done to change the safety paradigm and drive deaths to zero? What can safety professionals do differently? What should be our research focus for near-term/long-term? What research will have the biggest impact? The following survey put out by the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) is intended to help answer these questions and guide future research efforts.  The survey can be accessed at

The potential research projects listed in this survey are taken from NCHRP 20-07(353): A Strategic Research Plan for AASHTO's Standing Committee on Highway Traffic Safety.
The survey will ask you to evaluate several research topics. We'll then ask you to prioritize your top-rated research topics.  The survey will close by asking you a few optional, anonymous questions about your professional background.  Thank you for taking a few moments to provide your input. 
Need Help Implementing TZD In Your Community?

The National Cooperative Highway Research Program Project 17-64, Guidance for the Implementation of the Toward Zero Deaths National Strategy on Highway Safety, has just began releasing products from the research efforts. Among these are a tools for s tate agencies and local communities at no cost on the national TZD website. Developed by a multidisciplinary team with input from state and local transportation officials and advocates from across the United States, this new guidance highlights what is necessary for a successful TZD program while accounting for unique jurisdictional characteristics. For instructions on how to access the tools, visit the Road Map Web Page.

Road Map to Implementation Webinar Series
To help traffic safety stakeholders understand these tools and gain insight on implementing their own strategy, the TZD National Strategy development team is offering a free Road Map to Implementation Webinar Series. Beginning January 30, 2019, the webinars will be held every other Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. Central. The current schedule is:
  • January 30, 2019 - Series Kick-off Webinar
  • February 13, 2019 - Zero Vision and Goal Setting
  • February 27, 2019 - Focused Safety Priorities and Strategies
  • March 13, 2019 - Supporting Program Structure
  • March 27, 2019 - Technical Assistance and Training
  • April 10, 2019 - Key Partner/Stakeholder Engagement and Communication
  • April 24, 2019 - Leadership and Safety Culture
  • May 8, 2019 - Implementation and Progress Monitoring
  • May 22, 2019 - Engaging with Elected Officials
  • June 5, 2019 - Working with Non-traditional Stakeholders
Road Map to Implementation In-person Workshops
As a part of the implementation roll-out, TZD National Strategy workshops will be offered in conjunction with four national conferences in 2019. The first workshop will be held at the TRB Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, on Sunday, January 13 from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Other workshops are slated for the 2019 Lifesavers Conference and Institute of Transportation Engineers Annual Meeting.

To access the Road Map suite of tools, you'll need to create a free account on the national TZD website. Visit the  TZD Toolkit Web Page  to create an account or to log in. Then, you'll be able to access the following tools included in the Road Map suite:
  • A Road Map for Implementing the TZD National Strategy on Highway Safety
  • How-To Guide: Implementing the TZD Strategic Communication Plan
  • TZD Program Development Assessment Tool
  • TZD Stakeholder Involvement Assessment Tool
Emergency Medical Services and Strategic Highway Safety Plans

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is a significant factor in reducing tragic deaths on our roadways. The role of EMS is typically post-crash, and its effectiveness is impacted by response time, proximity to medical centers, and the skills and equipment of responders. These factors are all relevant to the recovery of those injured in a crash, and often determine whether or not crash sustained injuries result in a fatality. This is compounded in rural areas, where response time is often longer and locations more remote. To emphasize the significance of EMS, it has been shown that counties with coordinated systems for trauma care have crash fatality rates as much as 50% lower than those without trauma systems (FHWA Office of Safety).
It is important that EMS be part of a state's Strategic Highway Safety Plan development. Not only does it ensure the "4 Es" are represented, but being at the table can help advance EMS priorities. Involvement in the SHSP process can positively influence EMS grant funding if EMS safety initiatives are in alignment with that of the state's plan.
If you are looking for examples of how states incorporated EMS into their SHSP in recent years, there is a compilation of state EMS emphasis areas and strategies available to review here. If you are looking for suggestions on where to begin the SHSP partnering process between EMS and roadway safety, there are seven state examples that can help you learn more about EMS strategies included in SHSPs across the nation.
The next time your state SHSP committee convenes, if you notice that EMS is not represented, please encourage their involvement .  

Road User
Understanding Roadway Safety in American Indian Reservations: Perceptions and Management of Risk by Community, Tribal Governments, and Other Safety Leaders

A new report has been released by the University of Minnesota's Roadway Safety Institute that explores roadway safety data in American Indian reservations. The research was in collaboration with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to review the results of the 2016 Tribal Transportation Safety Data Survey, which had representative data from 196 tribal and state government respondents.

The research looked at the primary sources of roadway safety risk within reservations, possible distinctive traits of roadway safety in reservations, jurisdictional relationships' highway safety responsibility, and possible roadway safety improvements.

The study shows significant pedestrian safety vulnerability in reservations and sheds light on additional priority areas of road engineering and repair, reckless driving, seatbelt and car seat use, and inter-jurisdictional coordination.

The full report may be accessed here. 

Upcoming Trainings and Events
Upcoming Safety Center WebinarsTrainings

January 2019 - Framework for Bikeway Designation on Rural Roads
Date: January 31, 2018
Time: 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM Mountain/1:00 PM to 2:30 PM Eastern

Check the Safety Center  trainings page  for registration to open soon!

Roadway Departure Archived Webinars Now Available

Are roadway departure crashes a challenge in your area? If so, this three-part webinar series is for you! 

  • Part 1 -  summary of rural roadway departure safety problem, a description of the EDC-5 innovation focused on rural roadway departure reduction, and a discussion about rumble strips.
  • Part 2 - information about various roadway marking/signing treatments, with a focus on horizontal curves, and how high friction surface treatments can help keep vehicles on the road.
  • Part 3 - clear zone treatments and roadside hardware.
This three-part series was recorded and the archived version is now available for viewing here.
In need of CEUs or a certificate of completion? Watching the archived version still makes you eligible. Under each webinar recording link, you will find an evaluation link which allows you to request CEUs and certificates of completion.

Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) 98th Annual Meeting will be held January 13-17, 2019, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, in Washington, D.C. The information-packed program is expected to attract more than 13,000 transportation professionals from around the world. A number of sessions and workshops will focus on the spotlight theme for the 2019 meeting: Transportation for a Smart, Sustainable, and Equitable Future. 

What's Hot Off the Press?
Roadway Lighting Workshop

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has developed a new training course entitled "Web-Based FHWA Roadway Lighting Workshop," which is now available as a web-based, on-demand training program. There is no fee associated with taking the workshop, which is based on a combination of guidance from the Roadway Lighting Handbook as well as a series of in-person workshops, and other, more recent technical advancements on roadway lighting design.

Rural ITS Toolkit

The National Center for Rural Road Safety has released a Rural ITS Toolkit. The toolkit updates earlier work to provide fact sheets on a variety of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) applications in the areas of crash countermeasures, traffic management, operations and maintenance, emergency services, surface transportation and weather, rural transit and mobility, and tourism and travel information.

Fact sheets for specific applications, ranging from animal collision warnings to automatic vehicle location for rural transit vehicles to dynamic message signs, describe what each application is, how they are applicable, what the key components are, brief implementation examples, considerations for implementation, a cost range, and more information.  The toolkit provides information to assist decision makers, as well as regional rural transportation professionals who may provide transportation information and assistance to member local governments, with enough information to consider ITS projects in their region.

FHWA Pedestrian Accommodation in Work Zones Guide

Pedestrian Accommodation in Work Zones- A Field Guide has been developed and published through the FHWA Work Zone Safety Grant Program. This is a 20-page guide that identifies common issues adversely affecting pedestrians that field personnel should be regularly checking for and correcting when working on or near sidewalks or walking paths.

NCHRP Systemic Pedestrian Safety Analysis

TRB's National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Research Report 893: Systemic Pedestrian Safety Analysis provides a safety analysis method that can be used to proactively identify sites for potential safety improvements based on specific risk factors for pedestrians and suggestions for improvement of data collection and data 
management to better support systemic  safety analyses.

NCHRP Transforming Traffic Safety Culture Document

A Strategic Approach to Transforming Traffic Safety Culture to Reduce Deaths and Injuries has been released by TRB's National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) as a Web-Only Document. It provided guidance on developing a strategic approach to transform the traffic safety culture of road users and stakeholders.

Older Drivers and Navigation Devices

Older Drivers and Navigation Devices is a recently released report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to examine older drivers' performance while they drove to familiar destinations without any navigation aids and when on new routes they had not previously driven using paper directions or an Electronic Navigation System.

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