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The National Academies

NCHRP 17-103 [Anticipated]

Developing Multidisciplinary Safety Strategies from Understanding Roadway Fatality Trends During the New Millennium

  Project Data
Source: AASHTO Committee on Safety
Funds: $500,000
Staff Responsibility: Leslie C. Harwood
Fiscal Year: 2022

This project has been tentatively selected and a project statement (request for proposals) is expected to be available on this website. The problem statement below will be the starting point for a panel of experts to develop the project statement.

Traffic fatality trends in the United States in recent years have raised questions concerning how to continue the decline in fatalities experienced from 2005 to 2011. NCHRP Research Report 928, Identification of Factors Contributing to the Decline of Traffic Fatalities in the United States from 2008 to 2012 successfully identified major contributors to the decline in fatalities during this period. The research indicated that the most significant contributors to the drop in traffic fatalities were the substantial increase in teen and young adult unemployment, decreased alcohol consumption, and reductions in GDP/capita income. Vehicle design improvements also contributed to the decline significantly, as did the decline in rural vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) and increased strictness of DUI laws.

There is a need to more fully explore the relationships identified in NCHRP Research Report 928 to reveal information that can be used by states to target safety programs and projects. As traffic fatalities have risen since 2011, there is a need to examine additional information related to factors contributing to fatality trends and to develop strategies to recreate and expand decreasing trends. Exploration of this data and relationships could create other data sets for consideration such as socioeconomic or regional behavioral opportunities. Achieving safety targets will necessitate the use of multiple types of strategies and programs that aim to reduce traffic fatalities, since there is not a single discipline that is expected to be able to produce the desired reductions in fatalities and serious injuries. The effectiveness of many individual strategies has been studied, but it is not clear the effect a combination of multiple strategies using engineering, enforcement, education, and emergency medical service approaches will have on crashes. This project would allow for the potential creation of strategies and countermeasures that would more intertwine the work of the “4 E’s” (Education, Enforcement, Engineering, and Emergency Response).

The objective of this project is to develop multidisciplinary strategies for making significant reductions in traffic fatalities through the investigation of the quantitative impact of combined behavioral, infrastructure, and or other mitigation strategies. The first phase of the project would build on earlier research and use experiences and knowledge gained from recent trends to determine the effectiveness of external factors as well as combined countermeasures in previous mitigations. The research will consider specific geographic, temporal, and/or functional areas of the highway system. The second phase will be to develop guidance for identifying and customizing specific combined mitigations for individual jurisdictions, regions, or states. 

A more detailed understanding of data from individual states and data related to individual crash types and contributing factors will allow safety professionals to more aggressively use the strategies that have worked and to identify new strategies to fill gaps in the tool box. A better understanding of economic and social factors will contribute to the development of programs that change traffic safety culture. In addition, the changes in travel due to the 2020 pandemic and related economic changes may have an effect on fatalities, and an analysis of related data can add to the knowledge regarding potential “4E” and traffic safety culture strategies that would help maintain and continue fatality reductions. This research would help safety professionals more fully understand the relationships between economic, regulatory, vehicle, and infrastructure factors and traffic fatalities and the mechanisms by which they operate to provide states with insights that can be used to target fatality reduction programs and projects. Moreover, strategies that combine domains will be important for using state resources efficiently to maximize fatality reductions.

 

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