Safety. Introduction. Total System

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1 Safety Introduction Ohio is the 35 th largest state in the nation based on geographic size, however it carries the 5 th largest total traffic volume and the 4 th largest truck traffic volume. With such a large volume of users of the transportation system, it is critical that safety be the primary consideration in all ODOT activities from maintenance of traffic in construction zones, to snow and ice removal, to design and construction of new highways and bridges. The following information reflects safety trends in Ohio, and details the state s efforts to continue to make Ohio s highways as safe as possible. These statistics illustrate trends over several years on the total statewide, rural and municipal road network. The most recent year for which complete data is available is 1998, therefore the statistics reflect data up to and including Data is provided first for the total (municipal and rural) road system in Ohio, then repeated for just the ODOT-controlled rural highway system. Total System In general, death, injury and crash rates are dropping, indicating the state s highways are an increasingly safer and effective mode of transportation. These trends can be attributed to a number of factors, many of which are outlined in ODOT s Highway Safety Initiatives at the end of this section. State of the Transportation System 2000 Ohio Department of Transportation 71

2 The death rate on Ohio s roadways has fallen continually over the past 60 years. In 1940, the number of deaths per 100 million vehicle miles of travel averaged That figure continued to drop over time. In 1998, the same statistic was about 1.3, or just more than one fatality per 100 million miles of roadway traveled. Injury and crash rates have dropped as well. Per 100 million vehicle miles of travel, the 1996 injury rate was 218 and the crash rate was 384. In 1998 these numbers had dropped to 199 and 356, respectively. The total number of crashes has only increased slightly each year over the past five years. In contrast, the total deaths per year has decreased. Considering significant increases in the Annual Vehicle Miles Traveled (AVMT) each year, these statistics show continuous improvements in Ohio s highway safety. Statewide, the counties with the highest total crashes per year are the counties with the largest populations (Franklin, Hamilton, Cuyahoga). However, in 1998, the counties with the highest number of accidents per 1,000 people were Jackson, Vinton, Defiance and Clinton. None of these counties contain a major metropolitan area, and only Clinton County contains a section of interstate highway. In 1998, there were more fatal crashes in the months of August and September than any other time of year, which may reduce suspicion that snow and ice are the leading causes of fatal crashes on Ohio s roadways. In 1998 accidents which involved highway features, 386 crashes were a result of a pavement defect, 84 crashes resulted from a downed sign or device, 333 resulted from an obstructed view, 50 resulted from a shoulder defect, and 2,275 were a result of debris on the roadway. There were 14,780 truck crashes reported in 1998, of which 127 involved fatalities. Of the total truck crashes, 9,148 (about 62 percent) were the fault of the truck driver. Ohio is home to the largest Amish population in the United States, and each year since 1990 more than 63 crashes involving Amish buggies have been reported. 72 Safety Ohio Department of Transportation State of the Transportation System 2000

3 ODOT Rural Highway System The amount of roadway under ODOT control is small compared to the total local and rural system. Of the 116,220 miles of public roadway in Ohio, the ODOTcontrolled rural highway system constitutes just below 15 percent, or about 16,820 miles. The following statistics echo those above, but refer to the ODOT rural highway system only. For the five-year period from 1994 through 1998, the most fatal crashes per-month on the state rural highway system consistently occurred during the summer and fall seasons (June through October). Several winter months (November through January) did, however, appear to be the peak months for injury and propertydamage-only accidents, with the highest total number of incidents per-month occurring during this time. For accidents which involved highway features during the same five-year period, 537 crashes were a result of a pavement defect, 110 crashes resulted from a downed sign or device, 198 resulted from an obstructed view, 65 resulted from a shoulder defect, and 5,326 were a result of debris on the roadway. For crashes involving trucks from 1994 through 1998, 620 involved fatalities, 11,695 involved injuries, and 29,774 involved property damage only. More than 577 Amish buggy crashes have been reported on the ODOT-controlled system since ODOT Highway Safety Initiatives In every ODOT core business function, safety is the guiding principle. Every roadway activity conducted by ODOT is planned and tested for maximum safety, in order to provide a statewide transportation system that is efficient, functional and safe. Pavement, for example, is designed and tested for friction and skid standards to enhance traction and vehicle stopping distance. The department also employs an aggressive program to prevent, minimize, and correct potholes, rutting and other pavement defects in order to ensure ride quality and optimum safety. Pavement materials are also analyzed for each paving project, and only the most appropriate material is used based on project-specific circumstances and location. By mitigating structural deterioration during the front-end design of projects, the safety of the motoring public ultimately is increased. When bridges are replaced, engineers study each functional aspect and incorporate safety features into project development. From the bridge height and width to the materials it is constructed from, safety is considered in every phase of project development. Safety engineering dominates the planning of all of ODOT s major new, major bridge, multi-lane, and local projects. As the department builds new projects, every aspect from road geometry to traffic patterns and merge design is analyzed for optimum safety. ODOT will remain committed to its number one goal the safety of the traveling public in every project it develops. As part of that commitment, the department has implemented several initiatives to ensure safety remains at the forefront of its operation. The following are some of the key areas where ODOT has demonstrated its dedication to highway safety. State of the Transportation System 2000 Ohio Department of Transportation Safety 73

4 Congestion Mitigation In order to maximize highway safety efforts, it is vital to maintain continuous traffic flow on the state s highway network. The following three initiatives are being implemented in order to mitigate congestion on Ohio s highway system. Maintenance of Traffic Policy In its Vision 2000 Strategic Initiatives, ODOT declared the department will be second to none in maintenance of traffic practices. With the 5 th largest volume of traffic in the nation traveling on the 4 th largest interstate network, traffic flow is a major issue in Ohio. The state s interstate highways, many built in the early 1960s, have far exceeded their 20-year design life, requiring numerous rehabilitation projects across the state. Prior to the current efforts, however, road construction s effect on traffic was not routinely considered in project planning, and consequently traffic delays were common in work zones. ODOT is in the process of implementing a Maintenance of Traffic Policy, designed to analyze backup lengths and propose solutions to remedy the problem. By making maintenance of traffic planning automatic in project design, engineers must create solutions to potential problems before traffic backs up. The policy includes delay-reducing solutions such as providing two lanes of traffic in each direction during construction, even if this means a temporary lane must Ohio has the 5 th largest volume of traffic in the nation traveling on the 4 th largest interstate network. be added for the project, or shoulders and bridges must be widened. Additionally, a permitted lane closure map will geographically designate where lanes may be closed, based on factors such as traffic levels and time of day. The Maintenance of Traffic Policy will also contain a communications plan, which will require ODOT district communications staff to work with the project manager, project engineers, and ODOT planning and production staff to develop a comprehensive method of communicating vital construction information to affected transportation stakeholders. Communities, governments, businesses, the public and the media will be informed of planned construction activities, including lane and ramp closures and detours. Intelligent Transportation Systems ODOT increases system capacity by about one third of 1 percent each year, while traffic volume increases by 2 to 3 percent annually. As congestion increases on Ohio s highways faster than new infrastructure can be built, ODOT must look for alternative ways to accommodate traffic while maintaining the transportation network. One of the most promising solutions is the development of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), which uses technology and information exchange to reduce congestion and maximize the capacity of the existing transportation system. In Ohio, the department s most notable ITS project is the Advanced Regional Traffic Interactive Management and Information System, or ARTIMIS, now in use in the greater Cincinnati area. ARTIMIS, a collaborative effort between ODOT and agencies from Kentucky and Indiana, uses highway surveillance and control mechanisms (cameras and sensors) to relay up-to-the-minute traffic information to commuters via a dedicated phone number. The ARTIMIS system can be reached by dialing 211, a toll-free call, from any cellular or landline phone in the area, and offers timely information on congestion, accidents, and traffic on any of greater Cincinnati s highways. ODOT hopes to expand ITS to other areas of the state as well. Phase I of the Columbus Freeway Management System, a project similar to ARTIMIS, is currently underway. Installation of cameras and vehicle detectors is ongoing on the Interstate 71 project in northern Columbus. These devices will be used to monitor traffic and congestion, and relay information to motorists via changeable message signs, a Web site, and the news media. Future phases of the project involve expanding this system to every interstate and major freeway in the Columbus metropolitan area. Cleveland and Toledo, two of the state s other large metropolitan areas, have conducted planning and research studies for the installation of ITS technology. Cleveland officials have approached the Transportation 74 Safety Ohio Department of Transportation State of the Transportation System 2000

5 Review Advisory Council (TRAC) for funding, but have not yet received a decision. Nationwide studies have estimated congestion and highway delays can be reduced by 15 to 20 percent through the use of ITS technology. In Ohio, before and after studies regarding travel times and congestion levels will be conducted to determine the effectiveness of these systems on the state transportation network. The findings of the study will guide further planning of ITS for Ohio highways. Incident Management Highway incidents can range from a car abandoned on the roadside to a multi-vehicle crash in the heart of a work zone. However, all incidents have two things in common. They can have a serious effect on congestion, and require quick and proper management in order to return the highway to its expected capacity. Studies also show highway incidents and their subsequent effect on traffic can lead to additional accidents, creating an even greater safety hazard. Incident Management aims to correct these situations before they create significant traffic problems which cause delays and lead to additional accidents. ODOT is currently researching the most appropriate measures to mitigate incidents along Ohio s highways in order to restore traffic to normal levels quickly and effectively. ITS is closely tied to Incident Management. ITS technology, both on the highway and in-car systems, can relay vital traffic information to the appropriate authorities much faster than previous means. This allows for a faster response, and thus a faster turnover time to correct incidents, reducing the effect they have on traffic flow and minimizing the opportunity for additional accidents. For example, ITS technology on highways can notify traffic control centers when cameras detect a crash. The traffic centers can then contact Emergency Medical Services (EMS) with crash location and severity information, leading to the most appropriate response to the situation. By dispatching only emergency vehicles necessary and most suited for response, the incident can be addressed in the fastest manner possible. ODOT increases system capacity by about one third of 1 percent each year, while traffic volume increases by 2 to 3 percent annually. Currently, Incident Management is also being researched for application in work zones. Construction zone traffic, often already operating with lane restrictions and closures, can be crippled by breakdowns or crashes. It becomes crucial to have an Incident Management strategy to maintain traffic flow in work zones, which are, even under ideal circumstances, one of the largest contributors to congestion and incidents in Ohio. Possible solutions ODOT is examining include maintaining on-site tow trucks to remove disabled vehicles from work zones, promoting work zone safety awareness to reduce crashes in these areas, using ITS technology to relay incident information to motorists, and using ITS technology to relay incident information to EMS crews for appropriate response. Railroad Grade Separation Program ODOT and TRAC have partnered with several state agencies, the Federal Highway Administration and the railroads to begin the process for ranking railroad crossings for the construction of rail grade separations overpasses, underpasses and bypasses at Ohio s most congested and least safe highway-rail crossings. The effort is part of the Rail Crossing initiative, introduced by Gov. Bob Taft, which will allocate $200 million over 10 years for the construction of grade separations. Studies conducted by ODOT, the Ohio Rail Development Commission, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, and the Ohio Emergency Management Agency examined 250 crossing locations in more than 200 communities. With a considerable increase in train traffic in recent years, as well as problems caused by stopped trains blocking crossings, the safety and mobility in many Ohio communities has been affected. The Rail Crossing Program will mitigate safety and congestion problems, while allowing rail lines, emergency services, motorists, and pedestrians to maintain mobility in high rail-traffic communities. A Rail Crossing Safety Committee was appointed by formal motion of the TRAC to detail the selection and construction process. The committee, composed of Proctor and current TRAC members Jerry Hruby, Donald Jakeway and Charles Gerhart, will develop the project State of the Transportation System 2000 Ohio Department of Transportation Safety 75

6 selection criteria and application process. They will announce in December 2000 a list of projects to receive construction funding in ODOT will provide approximately $12 million annually, or 60 percent of the funding, for this initiative. In some cases, railroad funds may be pooled with TRAC funds to provide a comprehensive community freight solution. Additional funds will be sought from the Ohio Legislature, railroad companies, local governments and the federal government. Amish Buggy Safety Initiative ODOT has formed an Amish Buggy Safety Committee to address concerns regarding motor vehicle/ Amish buggy crashes. The committee is looking at the safety problems caused by horse-drawn buggies, traveling at slow speeds, sharing the highway with motor vehicles traveling at much greater speeds. Nearly 600 crashes involving buggies and vehicles have occurred on state routes since In an effort to understand why these accidents occur, the safety committee identified areas with large Amish populations, and then studied the highway conditions and crash trends in those areas. The information is being used to develop solutions to change the factors which lead to buggy/vehicle crashes. Two examples of the committee s recommendations include widening shoulders on downhill sections so buggies are visible to approaching motorists, and constructing hill climbing lanes to avoid the congestion that occurs when traveling behind slow-moving buggies. Other possible recommendations include increasing the number of reflective markings on buggies and performing buggy inspection to ensure drivers comply with existing reflective marking laws. The committee is also researching issues such as increased law enforcement activities, educational safety programs for the Amish, and teaching buggy awareness and safety rules during motor vehicle driver education classes. The committee s report and proposed solutions are expected to be finalized by late summer, Highway Safety Program The ODOT Highway Safety Program aims to ensure safety is the primary consideration in the design, development and operation of ODOT projects. In an effort to identify safety deficiencies and recommend countermeasures to reduce the severity, frequency and rate of crashes, ODOT developed a Highway Safety Program Policy. The policy enhances the current program by ranking, selecting and constructing improvements at priority locations on the state highway and local road systems. Through the program, the department evaluates high-crash locations based on crash data collected from the Ohio Department of Public Safety. These locations are then ranked based on factors which include crash frequency, relative severity, change in crash patterns over time, and property damage. Each ODOT district then develops a district safety annual work plan to organize the safety needs. The safety annual work plan is based on the top 350 high-crash locations, and other locations deemed appropriate by the district. These priority locations are then selected for in-depth engineering studies. The locations in the district safety annual work plan are studied to determine crash causes, and appropriate countermeasures are recommended. Economic analysis is also conducted to determine the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the recommended countermeasures. The projects recommended after the engineering studies are then eligible to apply for Highway Safety Program funding to construct the appropriate improvements. Applications for project funding are then ranked The ODOT Highway Safety Program aims to ensure safety is the primary consideration in the design, development and operation of ODOT projects. according to criteria including crash frequency rate, severity, equivalent property damage only rate, percent of trucks, and rate of return. Based on their ranking, projects are selected for funding and included in the State Transportation Improvement Plan. Follow-up evaluation will be conducted after completion of the safety improvements, to determine the effectiveness of instituted solutions. 76 Safety Ohio Department of Transportation State of the Transportation System 2000

7 Safety Devices ODOT employs a number of safety devices on Ohio s highways to prevent accidents and minimize damage caused in collisions. From high-tech guardrails to raised pavement markers, these devices have proven to help reduce both accidents and the damage they cause. One such device, an impact attenuator, can help limit the severity of an accident by cushioning the impact. Impact attenuators are the sand barrels and similar devices placed at the front end of a barrier, such as a concrete median or a divide at an exit ramp or interchange. These devices prevent a vehicle from hitting the concrete by slowing and stopping vehicles before they can hit the barrier. Raised pavement markers, another roadside safety device currently in use, have helped reduce accidents across the state. Raised pavement markers are metal devices placed in the pavement which contain a reflective piece raised slightly higher than the surface of the roadway. The device provides lane delineation during inclement weather conditions, such as during rain or fog, and at night. ODOT analysis showed the number of accidents related to lane delineation dropped after the installation of raised pavement markers on highways. The department examined several locations where lane delineation problems led to high crash rates, conducting research both one year before and one year after the installation of nearly 700,000 raised pavement markers. In more than 3,200 accidents recorded during the study, raised pavement markers led to a 9.2 percent reduction in crashes, and a 15 percent reduction in injuries. It is now an ODOT standard to maintain raised pavement markers on all state, interstate and U.S. highways. Raised pavement markers led to a 9.2 percent reduction in crashes, and a 15 percent reduction in injuries. It is now an ODOT standard to maintain raised pavement markers on all state, interstate and U.S. highways. In addition to these items, ODOT employs ongoing engineering improvements to existing roadside safety devices to maintain a high standard of traffic safety. Research and development are conducted as needed to develop methods to improve ODOT s highway safety program. The department will continue to strive to implement those measures which both reduce the frequency and severity of crashes and reduce cost. These roadside safety device initiatives are being implemented by ODOT on existing highway, as well as future construction projects. The department continues to maintain a strong commitment to the safety of Ohio s motorists through its safety device engineering and implementation. Future of Safety The safety of the motoring public will remain the highest priority in all phases of ODOT s project development. As these safety initiatives and improvements are implemented, ODOT will continue to evaluate the effectiveness of each measure. The department will analyze information such as reduction factors evaluating before and after statistics for each improvement to determine the effectiveness of the countermeasures applied. Information from reduction rates will help identify the most effective improvements to highway safety, enabling the department to incorporate those measures into future projects and designs. Additionally, this evaluation will also identify those countermeasures which do not maximize safety funding, allowing the department to strategically focus funds where they are most effective. ODOT will continue to coordinate with other state agencies and stakeholders to address safety issues. ODOT frequently works with the Ohio Department of Public Safety, the Ohio Rail Development Commission, the Ohio Emergency Management Agency and others to provide statewide, comprehensive safety improvements where needed. Continuing partnerships with these agencies will allow ODOT to maximize available resources in order to provide appropriate highway safety programs. ODOT will continue to focus on improving the safety of Ohio s roadways. As with all of the department s priorities, these safety efforts are driven by ODOT s continued dedication to positively contributing to the quality of life in Ohio. State of the Transportation System 2000 Ohio Department of Transportation Safety 77

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