Five state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) have been honored with National Roadway Safety Awards for the implementation of successful and innovative practices that have helped reduce crashes on the USA’s road network.
The National Roadway Safety Awards are a biennial awards program sponsored jointly by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Roadway Safety Foundation (RSF). The awards recognize roadway safety achievements that move the USA toward zero deaths and serious injuries on the country’s roadways. The Safety Award projects were evaluated on three criteria: Effectiveness, Innovation, and Efficient Use of Resources. The program honors outstanding projects involving infrastructure, operational or program-related innovations. The winners were selected by an expert panel of judges from a variety of disciplines, and were chosen from a nationwide pool of applicants. The winners were:
- Arizona DOT for its first-in-the-nation Wrong-Way-Driving (WWD) detection program that detects and then alerts drivers and police when a WWD vehicle is detected. The WWD Alert System went into operation in January 2018 on a 15 miles (24km) long segment of I-17 in Central Phoenix to curtail a growing number of WWD crashes. The system employs 90 thermal cameras from FLIR to detect and track wrong-way vehicles and instantly alerts both traffic operators and law enforcement while also illuminating warning signs facing wrong-way drivers, who are often alcohol or drug impaired. Previously the authorities had to rely on 911 calls from other motorists;
- Florida earned two awards – the first for the creation of the ‘Alert Today Florida’ program to reduce the state’s high fatality rate among its pedestrians and bicyclists. The program includes engineering projects, educational outreach events, paid advertising and high visibility enforcement activities. Analysis indicates that 18 lives have been saved, 324 injuries have been prevented, and 338 bicycle and pedestrian crashes have been avoided since its initiation;
- FDOT’s second award was for its ‘Design-Build Push-Button Contract’ which has had great success slashing the time to get from ‘concept to concrete’ for critical safety projects. This has resulted in safety improvements being constructed with as much as a 75% reduction in the concept-to-completion period, with many projects installed in just a few months, rather than taking three or more years;
- Missouri for its ‘Median U-Turn’ program to reduce crashes at three particularly dangerous intersections on US Route 63, a four-lane expressway. Following a safety assessment and extensive public outreach, three ‘median U-Turn intersections’ were installed that virtually eliminated the dangerous right-angle collisions that had caused many serious crashes, reducing the overall crash rate by 50%, with no fatalities;
- South Dakota DOT for its ‘High Friction Surface Treatment’ (HFST) program that involved installations in 15 locations in the Blacks Hills area, which together accounted for 57% of fatal winter weather-related crashes. In the two winters following the installations, there was a total crash reduction of 78%;
- Virginia for two programs – the first, for its ‘Strategic Guardrail Management Program’ that improved the state’s investment by improving hundreds of the lowest functioning guardrail terminals at the highest risk locations across the state, maximizing their expenditure and better protecting motorists;
- VDOT’s second award was for the statewide ‘Pedestrian Safety Action Plan’ that provided a successful strategy for identifying high risk areas for pedestrians and then quickly funding and installing safety improvements at those locations.