Analyzing Road Safety

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Engineers have known for a long time that the presence or lack of certain features can have a serious impact on the number and severity of crashes on a road. To help governments make better investments in their roadways and improve safety for all road users, the U.S. Road Assessment Program (usRAP) serves as an innovative tool to analyze the safety of a road and generate data-driven solutions for correcting hazards. Video or photos of a road are analyzed, focusing on more than 50 different road attributes that are known to influence the likelihood of a crash and its severity. These attributes include intersection design, number of lanes, markings, roadside hazards, sidewalks, and bike lanes. The road is then scored in 100-meter sections on a 1 to 5 star scale, with each additional star halving the socioeconomic cost of crashes on that road segment. The software, which is maintained by the International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) and has served projects in more than 70 counties, will also generate a tailored investment plan enumerating recommended engineering solutions ranked by return on investment. Utah has been a leader in utilizing this tool. The state has completed analysis of all 5,800 miles of state roads and its currently working on analyzing 24,000 miles of county roads. Additionally, the Federal Highway Administration has recognized usRAP as a valuable tool for data-driven safety analysis through its Every Day Counts initiative, and has partnered with usRAP to conduct county-level local road safety plans using the program’s protocols.

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