The National Academies

NCHRP 08-44 [Completed]

Incorporating Safety into Long-Range Transportation Planning

  Project Data
Funds: $500,000
Research Agency: University of Arizona
Principal Investigator: Simon P. Washington
Effective Date: 8/8/2002
Completion Date: 1/8/2005

Background: National transportation policies and programs emerging out of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) and the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) require transportation plans and decisions at the state and metropolitan levels to take safety into account more directly. While safety is often mentioned in plan policies and goals, the short- and long-range planning and programming processes rarely include safety initiatives and commitments in a comprehensive manner. Further, the data collection, analytical support methods, performance monitoring, and decision collaboration normally carried out as part of the planning process for facilities and services do not adequately include safety.

Presently, within long-range transportation planning at the state and metropolitan levels, current conditions, performance, and impacts can be assessed as the basis for predicting future implications of plan alternatives in terms of system capacity, travel demand, system condition, economic conditions, population, and land use. We can predict the impacts of pavement preservation and the future condition of highway congestion and capacity deficiencies. Regarding safety, however, we can describe the current accident and fatality rates and project them into the future. We cannot accurately predict future safety implications associated with transportation system improvements. Similarly, while we can estimate, if not predict, future effectiveness of various safety countermeasures, we are not able to assess their collective implications or performance expectations on a systemwide basis. The long-range transportation planning processes at the state and metropolitan levels need better analytical tools to identify current and likely future safety deficiencies and methods to address those deficiencies. Further, processes to create and promote communication and collaboration between safety and transportation planning practitioners are essential in order to integrate safety into long-range transportation planning and decisionmaking. This need is particularly true because current national policy as embodied in TEA-21 requires these long-range planning processes to increase the safety and security of the transportation system for motorized and nonmotorized users.

Objective: The objective of this research is to develop a guidebook for practitioners that identifies and evaluates alternative ways to more effectively incorporate and integrate safety considerations in long-range statewide and metropolitan transportation planning and decision-making processes. The research should encompass the full range of safety implications of facility and geometric improvements, capacity improvements, operational improvements, population growth and other demographic issues, land use decisions, and human behavior-related issues associated with all surface transportation modes. It should also include recommendations for improvements to the tools, methods, and procedures that support systems, corridor, and project planning.

Tasks: Accomplishment of the project objective will require the following tasks. (1) Review recent and ongoing research, literature, and the current state of practice for including safety in long-range statewide and metropolitan transportation system, corridor, and project planning. Highlight effective practices and methods for integrating safety into transportation planning and decisionmaking, including processes, analytical methods and tools, data sources, and management approaches. (2) Review significant federal and state safety-related regulations and guidelines that can be expected to affect long-range transportation planning and decisionmaking at the statewide and metropolitan levels. (3) Identify strengths and deficiencies of current procedures, practices, and analytic methods for considering safety in the transportation planning and programming processes. (4) Identify methods for assessing current and future system-level safety deficiencies and for predicting the performance of various safety initiatives. (5) Develop a procedure to identify, quantify, and prioritize safety issues appropriate for consideration within long-range transportation planning. (6) Outline a planning process and decision-making structure that incorporate the results of Tasks 3 through 5. (7) Prepare an interim report covering Tasks 1 through 6 for NCHRP review and comment. Meet with the project panel to discuss feedback and gain approval for the remaining tasks. (8) Develop the planning process and the decision-making structure that best incorporate safety. Include appropriate qualitative and quantitative measures for safety impacts of transportation plans, programs, and projects. (9) Develop a draft guidebook for integrating safety into transportation planning and decisionmaking. The guidebook is intended to improve the practice of assessing safety and to provide perspectives on the tools and procedures available to practitioners. As a reference document, the guidebook should include practical illustrations and examples of effective safety planning applications, methods, tools, and analyses at the system, corridor, and project levels. (10) Develop a review plan to present and obtain feedback on the guidebook and its reference information and key findings from state, metropolitan, and local transportation practitioners and stakeholders. Before initiating the review, obtain NCHRP approval of the plan and the draft guidebook. (11) Carry out the review and make appropriate changes to the draft guidebook. (12) Develop recommendations and guidance for disseminating the research findings and the guidebook to appropriate federal, state, and local practitioners. (13) Prepare a final report that documents the entire project. The guidebook should be the primary product of the final report and is intended as a reference document for practitioners, containing best practices, methodologies, issues, and implementation approaches.

Status: The project has been completed.

Product Availability: The final report has been published as NCHRP Report 546.

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