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The National Academies

NCHRP 17-33 [Completed]

Effectiveness of Behavioral Highway Safety Countermeasures

  Project Data
Funds: $600,000
Research Agency: Preusser Research Group, Inc.
Principal Investigator: David Preusser
Effective Date: 3/25/2005
Completion Date: 6/30/2008

BACKGROUND
In 2003, the U.S. DOT reported 42,643 fatalities and nearly 3 million injuries resulting from highway crashes nationwide. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that highway crashes cost our society more than $230 billion a year. To reduce injuries, fatalities, and other costs, billions of dollars are invested every year to engineer and construct improved and safer infrastructure, enforce traffic safety laws, and educate users of the nation's highway system on safe practices. 
Each year, hundreds of millions of these dollars are spent on behavioral highway safety countermeasures without sufficient knowledge of their benefits. The lack of sound information on the efficacy and costs of behavioral safety countermeasures such as public awareness campaigns, new safety program start-ups, and enforcement programs impedes effective decisionmaking. With limited resources and the duty to ensure public accountability in the use of funds available for behavioral highway safety programs, there is a need to provide decisionmakers with additional information to determine the countermeasures that will result in the greatest reductions of crashes, injuries, and fatalities.

    1. An interim manual geared to highway safety professionals, for application of behavioral highway safety countermeasures. The manual should include a matrix documenting the effectiveness, costs, and benefits of existing behavioral highway safety countermeasures (to the extent that these are known) and the implementation issues associated with each.
    2. A user-friendly, executive summary/briefing book version of this information, geared to high-level decisionmakers.

Phase II includes three deliverables:
1. A comprehensive behavioral highway safety manual updated and expanded based on findings from the contractor's scientific evaluations of the costs and benefits of behavioral countermeasures that have not been previously investigated and documented, or for which information is inadequate.
2. An executive summary/briefing book, updated as necessary, based on findings from Phase II.
3. A framework and guidance for estimating the effectiveness, costs, and benefits of emerging, experimental, untried, or unproven behavioral highway safety countermeasures not previously addressed in this project.

Accomplishment of these objectives will require at least the following tasks.
Phase I (1.) Review available systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and summaries of behavioral highway safety countermeasures. Sources include the AASHTO Strategic Highway Safety Plan Guides (NCHRP Report 500); The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guide to Community Preventive Services sections on highway safety (e.g., Am. J. Preventive Medicine 21, No. 4S, November 2001); "Systematic Reviews of Strategies to Prevent Motor Vehicle Injuries" (Am. J. Preventive Medicine 16, No. 1S, January 1999); Jones, R.D. and Lacey, J.H. (2000), "State of Knowledge of Alcohol-Impaired Driving: Research on Repeat DWI Offenders," DOT HS 809 027; and Jones, R.D. and Lacey, J.H. (2001), "Alcohol and Highway Safety 2001: A Review of the State of Knowledge," DOT HS 809 383. The latter is available on the NHTSA website at: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/research/AlcoholHighway/ (2.) Consult with the Governor's Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and review GHSA's Highway Safety Countermeasure Guide for the Governors' Representatives for Highway Safety. This Guide will summarize available information on up to seven behavioral highway safety program areas and is scheduled for completion in late spring 2005. Draft chapters on specific program areas should be available in early 2005. (3.) Develop a list of key behavioral highway safety countermeasures and identify the extent to which evaluation and implementation information is available for each. Consider candidates from the GHSA Guide, the AASHTO Guidebooks, and other sources. For the countermeasures contained in the GHSA Guide, identify and recommend additional information that should be included to satisfy Phase I objectives. In particular, consider whether information on implementation costs and overall costs and benefits can be obtained and would be useful. Identify and recommend additional countermeasures not included in the GHSA Guide that should be included to satisfy Phase I objectives. (4.) Obtain additional information, as needed, to supplement the information on behavioral highway safety countermeasures contained in the GHSA Guide.
  • Collect additional information on countermeasures not included in the GHSA Guide, and document their effectiveness, costs, and benefits.
  • Prepare an interim manual geared to highway safety professionals documenting these results, including a matrix summarizing the various countermeasures and the implementation issues and measures of effectiveness associated for each.
  • Prepare a user-friendly executive summary/briefing book version of this information geared to high-level decisionmakers.
  • Provide recommendations to the Project Panel on the countermeasures that should be evaluated in Phase II to meet the objectives.


(5.) Submit Phase I deliverables and, approximately 1 month later, meet with the Panel to review the Phase I deliverables and discuss recommendations required in Task 4. (6.) Based on the discussion and decisions at the Task 5 meeting, develop an updated, detailed work plan to produce the evaluations, analyses, and deliverables specified in Phase II.

Phase II (7.) Conduct scientific evaluations to ascertain the costs and benefits of countermeasures specified by the panel, and update and expand the interim manual and executive summary/briefing book with the findings. For this task, the costs of a countermeasure include both direct program costs for implementation and operation (e.g., labor, equipment, publicity) as well as less tangible costs, such as outreach efforts necessary to gain acceptance for the intervention or strategy from policymakers and the public. Benefit evaluation includes the effect of countermeasures on crashes, injuries, fatalities, and economic costs. If possible, benefits should be stated in absolute numbers (e.g., decrease in fatalities) and rates per population, or vehicle miles of travel and/or other appropriate measures. (8.) Develop a framework and guidance for quickly and credibly estimating the effectiveness, costs and benefits of emerging, experimental, untried, or unproven behavioral highway safety countermeasures where scientific evidence is not yet available. (9.) Submit the draft final deliverables documenting the entire research effort for panel review and comment. (10.) Revise deliverables and submit finalized products.


Status: The project has been completed and the final report published. 


Product Availability: 

NCHRP Research Results Digest 322: Public Information and Education in the Promotion of Highway Safety

NCHRP Report 601: The Impact of Legislation, Enforcement, and Sanctions on Safety Belt Use

NCHRP Report 622: Effectiveness of Behavioral Highway Safety Countermeasures


OBJECTIVES

This project's objectives are to produce a manual for application of behavioral highway safety countermeasures and to develop a framework and guidance for estimating the costs and benefits of emerging, experimental, untried, or unproven behavioral highway safety countermeasures.

The work is organized into two phases. Phase I includes two deliverables to be completed within 6 months of the contract's execution:

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