State Highway Safety Showcase
5% Severe Safety Needs
SAFETEA-LU created a new Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) as a core FHWA program, to help reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries on public roads. As part of HSIP, states are required to submit an annual report describing not less than 5 percent of their highway locations that exhibit the most severe safety needs. The report must include an assessment of: potential remedies, estimated costs and impediments to implementation.
While many state annual reports focus on physical improvements to a specific roadway or intersection, there is nothing in the regulations that limits the 5% report just to infrastructure. The state of Iowa, a leader in looking at safety in its broadest sense, recognized that the contributing factors of highway crashes go beyond a roadway’s design. They often involve driver behaviors (e.g. speeding, inattentiveness and seat belt usage) or conditions (e.g. alcohol use, age-related conditions, physical impairment). In fact, behavior and condition factors are the primary cause in an estimated 67 percent of highway crashes and a contributing factor in an estimated 95 percent of all crashes.
As such, Iowa's HSIP annual report addressed the 5 percent severe safety needs requirement with a multi-disciplinary approach, using engineering, enforcement, emergency response and education strategies.
Iowa’s Most Severe Safety Needs
Based on an analysis of Iowa’s 2001–2005 fatal and major injury crashes, Iowa’s most severe safety needs are related to crashes involving: intersections; single vehicles running off the road; vehicles crossing the medians on freeways; unbelted drivers and passengers; impaired drivers; and speeding.
Iowa identified the 5 percent of its most severe safety needs in each of these areas in their report. The report included maps showing the corridors where the most crashes occurred involving drivers exhibiting unsafe behavior (unbelted, impaired, etc.):
- Tom Welch, PE
State Transportation Safety Engineer
Iowa Dept of Transportation