Highway Safety Improvement Program
The government has a compelling interest in making our roads safer for travel. Every year, millions of deaths and injuries occur on America’s roadways, many of which are preventable. On August 10, 2005, the Highway Safety Improvement Program went into effect. This aid-based initiative provides resources to help in lowering the fatality and injury rate that has plagued the interstate highway system since its inception.
The Strategic Highway Safety Plan or SHSP
A key component of the Highway Safety Improvement Program is the SHSP, or Strategic Highway Safety Plan. It is a data-driven plan, intended to be compiled over a five year period. It involves participation from entities all over the state and focuses on lowering the rate at which people are injured and killed on highways. This safety improvement plan is unique in that it incorporates the four E’s: education, engineering, enforcement and EMS (emergency medical services). This seems simple, but it employs the use of agencies across a broad spectrum of professions. Marketing initiatives are undertaken by state and local agencies in schools and across communities. Engineers study existing roads to devise new ways to make them safer. Law enforcement does its part to enforce the rules already on the books and emergency services perform damage control. The overall plan and underlying theory is for those involved to establish goals based on data and then implement strategies to achieve those goals.
Data is Key
An important aspect of developing the SHSP is the data needed to draw conclusions. States must implement a crash data system that allows for analysis and safety issue identification. Data is crucial to the very existence and subsequent success of a safety improvement plan. This quantitative approach helps professionals identify areas that are consistently unsafe from isolated crash areas of a roadway. Data can be gathered from a variety of sources such as DOT workers and administrators, research, law enforcement, medical records, and input from EMS providers, among other sources.
Although deaths and injuries have been a common fixture of our roadways for some time, well-developed plans continue to lower these statistics. Entities from all over a state, such as police, EMS, engineers, and educational institutions, can put forth an effort to make our roads safer to travel.