Dr. Anthony R. Kane, Ph.D.
by Dr. Anthony R. Kane, Ph.D. on April 26, 2011
Director of Engineering and Technical Services
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)
The need for strategies to reduce the prevalence of serious roadway departure crashes is evident in the data showing approximately half of all fatal crashes in the United States each year are related to roadway departures. State departments of transportation are working on systematic and targeted application of treatments that will reduce fatal crashes of all types, including such strategies as rumble strips which will address roadway departures. The Safety EdgeSM is another such strategy, which can help address crashes that occur when vehicles run off the road and are unable to safely return to the travel lane due to the shape of the pavement edge.
The Safety EdgeSM has been demonstrated to be effective in reducing crashes and reducing deterioration of the pavement. FHWA's demonstrated effectiveness of the Safety EdgeSM has resulted in additional information that highway agencies can use to determine whether to use Safety EdgeSM in appropriate locations in their jurisdiction. The training and informational resources developed by FHWA are valuable to the technology transfer efforts around the country. With support from safety partners such as FHWA, and continued development of hardware by private manufacturers, use of Safety EdgeSM can be expected to expand.
Many state and local highway agencies have used treatments similar to the Safety EdgeSM for some time, and the performance of these should be evaluated as well. The AASHTO Technology Implementation Group developed a white paper to promote use of the Shoulder Wedge Maker and Notch Wedge Joint Maker to construct the Safety EdgeSM and similar shapes. An advantage to the EDC initiative for Safety EdgeSM is that it is leading to evaluation of these other treatments. Additional data regarding the prevalence of crashes that could be addressed with Safety EdgeSM and similar treatments, along with evaluations of the various options, will allow highway agencies to make better decisions.
The need for low-cost effective safety countermeasures is a key issue for all highway agencies. While the resources required for purchasing the installation equipment, training personnel, and addressing other needs may be relatively low, transportation departments frequently do not have the resources readily available. Installations of the Safety EdgeSM as part of the EDC initiative will provide additional data for evaluation of both the expected impact of the Safety EdgeSM on related crashes and for its durability under various traffic, climate, and other conditions. This innovative paving technique promises to be a method to address a highway safety concern with limited resources.