WASHINGTON– The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, in collaboration with the Iowa and Michigan departments of transportation, unveiled a method for mapping the relative risk of rural road segments within the United States.
This new tool allows highway agencies to periodically conduct risk assessments of road segments using available crash data to identify potential problems, benchmark progress and guide strategic investments in highway infrastructure. Similar mapping already exists throughout much of Europe and Australia.
The AAA Foundation recently completed phase I of a pilot study of the United States Road Assessment Program (usRAP) that rated the relative risk of rural road segments on state roads in both Michigan and Iowa, along with Genesee and Livingston counties in Michigan. Nationwide, 60 percent of traffic fatalities occur on rural roads and the risk of being killed in a rural crash is two and a half times greater, compared to crashes in urban and suburban areas.
“usRAP provides us with an important new tool to enhance the management of our safety programs,” according to Larry Tibbits, chief operations officer of the Michigan Department of Transportation, while Tom Welch, state transportation safety engineer with the Iowa Department of Transportation added, “usRAP provides additional insight into our analyses of crash data.” Both individuals said they were looking forward to continuing to work with the AAA Foundation on usRAP and believe other states could benefit as well.
The usRAP program is very timely because recent federal mandates have placed new emphasis on evidence-based safety management and transparency of the decision-making process on all public roads. “These tools will be invaluable for state, county and local engineers across the country looking to maximize the safety benefits from their limited resources,” says Tony Giancola, executive director of the National Association of County Engineers.
“We are very excited with the results of the phase I pilot and hope that this type of public-private collaboration will lead to additional investments in road safety,” said Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation. Kissinger added, “All parties involved in this effort view it as a success.”
“This program expands upon the AAA Michigan intersection improvement program, which targets high-risk intersections for low-cost safety improvements,” said Jack Peet, safety services manager of the Auto Club Group. “We are pleased to have such a wonderful working relationship with the Michigan and Iowa departments of transportation.”
The usRAP pilot is being expanded into at least two additional states this year with funding from the AAA Foundation. The Florida and New Jersey departments of transportation have already agreed to work with AAA Foundation on a usRAP pilot. The long-term plan envisions the preparation of risk maps to strategically allocate safety resources across the country that will lead to fewer serious crashes and fatalities on our nation’s road network.
usRAP is a road safety program of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and is affiliated with iRAP, the International Road Assessment Program, along with EuroRAP, the European Road Assessment Program, and AusRAP, the Australian Road Assessment Program.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is an independent, publicly funded, 501 (c)(3) charitable research and educational organization established in 1947 by AAA. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce the impact when they do occur. The “usRAP: Feasibility Assessment and Pilot Program” report, along with all AAA Foundation reports are available online at www.aaafoundation.org.