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Developing Highway Safety Plans

Transportation is the backbone of our capitalist economy.  Every year billions of dollars of food, consumer goods, and other products are shipped across our nation’s roadways.  Millions of people also take to the highways annually for travel-related purposes.  The FHWA, or Federal Highway Administration, was developed to make sure that these activities take place safely and efficiently.  Although the administration is a federal entity, many initiatives have been undertaken to focus on roads at the state level.  The FHWA partners with states in the aggregation of crash data in order to develop clearer highway safety plans of action to improve the safety and usability of the nation’s roadways. 

State Assessments

Individual states around the country must apply to have an assessment process started on applicable roadways.  The state data capabilities assessment is a snapshot of where a state currently stands on its data collection objectives.  In today’s safety planning world, data is crucial to make sound decisions about road design, safety, construction and disaster planning.  The federal highway administration plays an integral role in assessing a state’s data collection activities because every state is different in terms of their geographic location.  Another element of the assessment is determining where state governments would like to be in their data collection processes.  The administration acts as a fresh set of eyes to identify clear goals for states and then determine what efforts will be needed to reach those goals in terms of highway safety plans.

Ancillary programs

There are a variety of other programs that fall under the realm of the Federal Highway administration’s charge to help develop roadway safety at the state level.  For instance, the model inventory of roadway elements, or MIRE, is a program that provides states with information on the approved standard for traffic control and safety devices such as signage, barriers, markers and other products.  States have access to information about what works best, as well as which products are most cost effective and provide the greatest return on investment-in terms of lower crash and fatality numbers.  Another valuable program is the CDIP, or Crash Data Improvement Program, which gives states the ability to measure the quality of the crash data in their possession.  Without quality data, accurate decisions cannot be made. 

The federal highway system has been and still is a vital part of the American economy.  Highway safety plans are perhaps just as important as the roads themselves, because if people and businesses cannot use our country’s roads safely, their value is diminished.  The FHWA has developed far-reaching and comprehensive programs to change the face of roadway safety at the state level.  When many hands work on safety, states can be assured that high fatality and crash numbers will someday become a thing of the past.