The National Academies

BTSCRP BTS-15 [Active]

Highway Safety Behavioral Strategies for Rural Areas

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Staff Responsibility: Richard Retting
Research Agency: Western Transportation Institute
Principal Investigator: Jaime Sullivan
Effective Date: 6/24/2020
Completion Date: 2/24/2022
Comments: Research underway

While rural areas account for about 30% of the total miles traveled and only 19% of the population lives in rural areas, half of all traffic fatalities occur in rural areas (Traffic Safety Facts. Report No. DOT HS 812 521). Although this certainly shows a need to improve safety in rural areas, numerous constraints and resource limitations hinder current safety efforts. For example, in most states the vast majority of rural road mileage is owned and managed by local governments. The 2012 Census of Governments found a total of 3,031 counties, 19,522 municipalities, and 16,364 townships in the United States, and most are either partially or entirely rural. In addition, the Bureau of Indian Affairs recognizes 573 American Indian tribes and Alaska Native Villages in the United States. The sheer number of rural jurisdictions makes it difficult to assure that programs aimed at improving rural transportation safety are effective in reaching all areas effectively and equitably. The large number of rural local government units vary considerably in the way they are organized, their legal authority, and the available financial and human resources. The vast rural highway mileage is another challenge: rural crashes are often widely dispersed, with a considerable degree of randomness in crash locations. This makes it difficult to apply traditional crash reduction strategies that focus on hot spots.
Research is needed to move beyond infrastructure safety countermeasures and develop behavioral traffic safety tools that encourage safe driving choices in rural areas.
The objective of this research is to develop a behavioral traffic safety countermeasure toolkit for highway safety partners involved with rural road safety (e.g., tribal authorities, local government, law enforcement, emergency responders, engineers) to reduce the frequency and severity of motor vehicle crashes on roads in rural areas. The countermeasure toolkit should be accessible and practical for use by partners with varying levels of traffic safety expertise.
The BTSCRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective.
The research plan should delineate the tasks required to accomplish the research objective. At a minimum, the tasks should include the following:
  • Define rural area roads for the purposes of this research;
  • Review the literature that has identified or evaluated the impacts of driver behavior and characteristics that have been found to contribute measurably to the frequency and severity of motor vehicle crashes on rural area roads;
  • Identify examples of successful behavioral safety rural road countermeasures;
  • Identify rural jurisdictions with significant reduction in motor vehicle crashes over the previous 5 years;
  • Identify examples of targeted, flexible, and adaptable behavioral safety messages and educational and outreach materials;
  • Propose a work plan to identify and communicate behavioral safety countermeasures to agencies with varying levels of rural road responsibilities;
  • Develop documentation and guidance to provide highway safety partners with an enhanced understanding of the effects of driver behavior, characteristics, and attitudes on measureable safety performance to inform countermeasure development and selection;
  • Develop training materials and instructional aids for each tool in the countermeasure toolkit; and
  • Propose countermeasure toolkit effectiveness measures and metrics.

The proposed work plan must be divided into phases. Each phase must be organized by task, with each task described in detail. A kick-off teleconference of the research team and BTSCRP shall be scheduled within 1 month of the contract’s execution.

Phase I will consist of information gathering and refinement of the work plan for subsequent phases, culminating in the submission of an interim report describing the work completed in Phase I, along with a refined scope of work for Phase II based on the research findings. An in-person meeting will be held with BTSCRP to discuss the results of the Phase I tasks. BTSCRP approval of the Phase I interim report is required before work can commence on subsequent phases. The project schedule shall include 1 month for BTSCRP review and approval of the interim report.
Phase II shall consist of the BTSCRP-approved Phase II work plan and the development of the final deliverables.
The final deliverables shall include (1) the behavioral traffic safety countermeasure toolkit; (2) a final report documenting the entire project and incorporating all other specified deliverable products of the research; (3) an electronic presentation of the behavioral traffic safety countermeasure toolkit that can be tailored for specific audiences; (4) recommendations for additional research; and (5) a stand-alone memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” (see Special Note B for additional information).
Note: Proposers are encouraged to identify an entity willing and able to host and maintain the behavioral safety countermeasure toolkit.
Note: Following receipt of the draft final deliverables, the remaining 3 months shall be for BTSCRP review and comment and for research agency preparation of the final deliverables.
A. Proposals should include a task-by-task breakdown of labor hours for each staff member as shown in Figure 4 in the brochure, "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals" (http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/crp/docs/ProposalPrep.pdf). Proposals also should include a breakdown of all costs (e.g., wages, indirect costs, travel, materials, and total) for each task using Figures 5 and 6 in the brochure. Please note that TRB Cooperative Research Program subawards (selected proposers are considered subawards to the National Academy of Sciences, the parent organization of TRB) must comply with 2 CFR 200 – Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. These requirements include a provision that proposers without a "federally" Negotiated Indirect Costs Rate Agreement (NICRA) shall be subject to a maximum allowable indirect rate of 10% of Modified Total Direct Costs. Modified Total Direct Costs include all salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and up to the first $25,000 of each lower-tier subaward and subcontract. Modified Total Direct Costs exclude equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, rental costs, tuition remission, scholarships and fellowships, participant support costs and the portion of each lower-tier subaward and subcontract in excess of $25,000.
B. The BTSCRP is a practical, applied research program that produces implementable products addressing problems faced by transportation practitioners and managers. The benefits of BTSCRP research are realized only when the results are implemented in state highway safety offices and other agencies. Implementation of the research product must be considered throughout the process, from problem statement development to research contract and beyond completion of the research. Item 4(c), "Anticipated Research Results," must include the following: (a) the "product" expected from the research, (b) the audience or "market" for this product, (c) a realistic assessment of impediments to successful implementation, and (d) the institutions and individuals who might take leadership in deploying the research product. The project panel will develop and maintain an implementation plan throughout the life of the project.
C. Item 5 in the proposal, "Qualifications of the Research Team," must include a section labeled "Disclosure." Information relevant to the BTSCRP's need to ensure objectivity and to be aware of possible sources of significant financial or organizational conflict of interest in conducting the research must be presented in this section of the proposal. For example, under certain conditions, ownership of the proposing agency, other organizational relationships, or proprietary rights and interests could be perceived as jeopardizing an objective approach to the research effort, and proposers are asked to disclose any such circumstances and to explain how they will be accounted for in this study. If there are no issues related to objectivity, this should be stated.
D. Proposals are evaluated by the BTSCRP staff and project panels consisting of individuals collectively very knowledgeable in the problem area. Selection of an agency is made by the project panel considering the following factors: (1) the proposer's demonstrated understanding of the problem; (2) the merit of the proposed research approach and experiment design; (3) the experience, qualifications, and objectivity of the research team in the same or closely related problem area; (4) the plan for ensuring application of results; (5) how the proposer approaches inclusion and diversity in the composition of their team and research approach, including participation by certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprises; and, if relevant, (6) the adequacy of the facilities.
Note: The proposer's approach to inclusion and diversity as well as participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises should be incorporated in Item 12 of the proposal. 
E. Copyrights - All data, written materials, computer software, graphic and photographic images, and other information prepared under the contract and the copyrights therein shall be owned by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The contractor and subcontractors will be able to publish this material for non-commercial purposes, for internal use, or to further academic research or studies with permission from TRB Cooperative Research Programs. The contractor and subcontractors will not be allowed to sell the project material without prior approval by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. By signing a contract with the National Academy of Sciences, contractors accept legal responsibility for any copyright infringement that may exist in work done for TRB. Contractors are therefore responsible for obtaining all necessary permissions for use of copyrighted material in TRB's Cooperative Research Programs publications. For guidance on TRB's policies on using copyrighted material please consult Section 5.4, "Use of Copyrighted Material," in the Procedural Manual for Contractors.
F. Resumes for proposed key staff should be limited to 3 pages for each. The research approach shall be limited to 20 pages. This does not include the detailed budget or the detailed schedule.

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