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Highways for LIFE

Arrow Marketing Plan: Road Safety

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In spite of the fact that a variety of efforts have been made to improve safety nationwide, the annual number of fatalities has remained essentially constant since the year 2000. As a result, the transportation safety profession is being challenged to try something different. The use of RSAs is a new way of doing business.

In 1996, the FHWA conducted an international scan on RSAs. The conclusion was that RSAs help to maximize the safety of roadway designs and operations and should be tested in the U.S. A workshop to promote RSAs was held in 1998, and several states participated in a pilot program to assess the benefits of RSAs. Since then, the FHWA has developed a 2–day National Highway Institute (NHI) course on RSAs and a day–and–a–half "Road Safety Audit for Locals" course.

The RSA process is a way to improve safety and communicate to the public how an agency is working towards reducing crashes.

The RSA process:

  • Helps produce designs that reduce the number and severity of crashes
  • Promotes awareness of safe planning, design, operational, and maintenance practices
  • May reduce costs by identifying safety issues and correcting them before projects are built
  • Considers human factors and all road users (pedestrian, bicycle, motorcycle, automobile, and truck)

RSAs provide the opportunity for agencies to identify and document safety issues at intersections or along a highway and to make suggestions on how to mitigate those issues. The highway authority, using the RSA process, formally responds to the suggestions of the RSA team and either implements those suggestions or documents the reasons why the suggestions cannot be implemented. This structured approach may reduce an agency's liability for tort actions for the locations where RSAs have been conducted and any follow–up actions documented.

The FHWA Office of Safety has partnered with several other FHWA offices/groups and the AASHTO TIG to champion the need for RSAs. For example, the HfL team is providing marketing expertise and funding to speed the implementation of RSAs across the country.

A key tool in getting innovations into use is a marketing plan. A marketing plan is a roadmap for delivering products or services, or in this case, a process. Having a marketing plan can aid in moving a product or service faster, more cost–effectively, and to the right people.

By definition, marketing calls for an exchange of values, such as money for products or services. In the case of innovations, the exchange of values is the highway professionals' investment of time to understand these new technologies or processes and to commit to putting them into practice. New technologies flourish when resources are invested to enhance effective program delivery.

Several State DOTs and local agencies have begun to incorporate RSAs into their existing efforts to enhance safety. In New York, the DOT has integrated RSAs within its pavement overlay program. In Iowa, RSAs are conducted on 3R (pavement rehabilitation, restoration and resurfacing) projects. In Kansas and South Dakota, RSAs are conducted on existing roads. In South Carolina, RSAs are conducted on all types of projects at various stages in the project development process and on existing roads. Collier County, Florida, has awarded contracts to consultants for their services to lead RSA teams of independent county staff. The Utah Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) center is helping local agencies form teams from nearby jurisdictions to conduct RSAs on local roads and intersections without needing to hire a consultant.

The FHWA believes that RSAs can have a great impact on the safety of the nation's roads and intersections. This marketing plan has been developed for a more effective approach to promoting RSAs to FHWA's customers, to help train RSA teams, and to assist FHWA in reaching its RSA program goals.

Throughout this plan, whenever FHWA is mentioned, it includes the Federal– Aid and Federal Lands functions.

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Scott Wolf
Center for Accelerating Innovation

This page last modified on 04/04/11

United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration