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Summer 2010 | Vol. 12 | No. 4
U.S. Road Assessment Program Broadens Scope
The United States Road Assessment Program (usRAP) feasibility study, funded by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, is a project to test the viability of a systematic road assessment program in North America which would gauge the level of safety for different roads and disclose these findings for the public’s review. The program also seeks to test technological and political barriers concerning a possible usRAP implementation.
The usRAP pilot began in 2004, with the first phase of study in Iowa and Michigan. In two later phases, the study broadened its scope to include six other states. The program utilizes risk maps (which synthesize available crash statistics by crash location), and star rating maps (which assess safety-related design features on roadway sections). In the project’s second phase, performance tracking was taken into account to gauge changes in safety over time for particular roads.
The recently completed third phase applied the risk mapping techniques from the previous phases to four more states and reviewed the risk and star rating maps. Both risk maps and star mapping were found to be effective in highlighting safe areas to drive, although problems still exist. For example, more consistency is needed in states’ definitions of serous injury crashes for the effective use of risk maps. Also, poorly rated roads are not always due to a road safety problem, but could be attributed to other factors such as high traffic volume.
There was strong evidence that crash rates for roadway segments usually decrease as star ratings increase. Additionally, performance tracking was found to be a promising technique, although it may be limited in rural areas due to lack of data.
The next and final step is a culminating report on the three-phase usRAP feasibility study to summarize findings and present policy recommendations for any future implementation of a usRAP.
The usRAP’s findings, including reports for the three phases and risk maps for certain states, can be found at www.usrap.us.