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Arrow Marketing Plan: Road Safety

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Situation Analysis

This section describes the environment in which targeted RSA users are operating. Several different situations are summarized, including legislation, policy initiatives, and crash reporting limitations.

SAFETEA–LU was passed on August 10, 2005. There is a requirement in this law for states to report annually, as part of their HSIP, at least 5 percent of the locations on their public roads that are exhibiting the most severe safety needs. The law also requires that this report include remedies, costs, and impediments to implementing improvements at each of these locations. This requirement provides an excellent opportunity to incorporate RSAs into a state's overall safety process, since RSAs can identify comprehensive solutions to these severe safety problems beyond the traditional design approach.

RSAs also fit into FHWA's Risk Management Initiative. Risk is defined as a future phenomenon that may occur with a direct impact to a project or program's benefit or detriment. FHWA's Risk Management Initiative is about communicating transparently about resources and our risks. Through the Risk Management Initiative, the FHWA is encouraging Division Offices and state and locals partners to identify risks and mitigation strategies for their core work elements (responsibilities). An example risk event/threat statement related to safety is: If fatalities and injuries continue to occur at the current level/rate, then we will not be accomplishing our objectives, which will result in additional negative press and political pressure. RSAs are a mitigation risk response strategy.

Traffic safety is a result of the interaction of three factors: the vehicle, the driver, and the road. Crashes are very often attributed to more than just one of the causes. For example, a nighttime run–off–road collision may be attributed to both drowsy driving (human factors) and an unsigned, unmarked curve (road environment). Human factors play a part in about 95 percent of crashes, while the road environment affects about 28 percent of crashes. Clearly, the driver is the weakest link in the system, so the transportation safety profession must consider human needs in the design process. At the same time, even with collisions attributed purely to driver error or vehicle faults, a well–designed road can help to reduce the collision severity.

RSAs have been used successfully worldwide for a number of years to help agencies make systematic safety improvements to address the human and roadway factors that contribute to collisions. Globally, it is estimated that one million fatalities result from motor vehicle crashes each year. One simply cannot measure the impact an RSA program can have on communities and families. The potential for RSAs is unlimited. They can be conducted at any stage of the Road Safety Audit Marketing Plan 10 project development process, or on existing roads. Suggestions that come from RSAs can be applied to the project being examined, as well as future projects to improve safety. RSAs are a mechanism to "move the numbers" to reduce roadway deaths and injuries.

For years, many public agencies have been conducting what they call "road safety reviews." However, these road safety reviews are different from RSAs. A table showing the differences between these two processes is included in the appendices.

Market Summary

The road safety audit process is valuable from the perspective of identifying deficiencies, developing mitigative strategies, improving public relations, and enhancing Mn/DOT's credibility.

–Bernie Arseneau Director, Office of Traffic, Security and Operations

The market for RSAs is quite broad, since virtually all roadway owners can benefit from them. Specifically, federal agencies and state, territory, county, city, and tribal governments should be interested in RSAs. Within these agencies, the segments most likely to influence the adoption of RSAs are listed below. Because of limited resources, outreach should focus on selected agencies that can leverage their resources with those of the FHWA. These "focus agencies" also are identified below. As more resources become available, the list of focus agencies may expand.

Segments most likely to influence adoption of RSAs:

FHWA Leadership Team, HQ Office of Safety, Division Administrators, Division Safety and Area Engineers, Resource Center, Federal Lands Highway Division safety Engineers, Technical Specialists, and Design Teams

Federal Land Management Agencies (FLMA)

Engineers, planners, landscape architects, cultural resource specialists, maintenance, and enforcement; USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Tribal councils, Tribal planning, Tribal public works, and Tribal public safety

Local Agencies & Organizations

Engineers, planners, MPO engineers/planners, public works directors, elected/appointed officials, lawyers/risk managers, Local Technical Assistance Programs/Tribal Technical Assistance Programs (LTAP/TTAP) Centers, Intertribal Association (ITA), Tribal Councils and agencies, the National Association of County Engineers (NACE), the public safety community (law enforcement, fire, emergency medical service (EMS)), the American Public Works Association (APWA), the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO) , the National Association of Regional Councils (NARC), the National League of Cities, National Association of Towns and Townships, and the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE).

State DOTs, Territories & Organization

Secretaries of Transportation/Chief Executive Officers, Management/chief engineers, designers, safety engineers, lawyers/risk managers, construction and maintenance personnel, Governors' highway safety offices, Public safety community (law enforcement, fire, EMS), American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE).

Focus Agencies


Market Analysis

On the pages that follow is a table that summarizes primary RSA customers, their needs, and products to fill those needs. As progress is made regarding the listed audiences/customers, the RSA team can address the needs of secondary customers. Every audience/customer has a desire or need to reduce fatalities and injuries; specific needs to achieve those goals are listed in the chart.

How to Leverage Additional Resources/Partners

The RSA message can be conveyed in a variety of contexts, including:

  • Federal Land Management Agencies' Safety Management Systems
  • FHWA Performance Plans
  • FHWA Safety Circuit Riders Program (Local Outreach)
  • Academia/Curriculum
  • FHWA New Employee Orientation/FHWA's Professional Development Program
  • FHWA's Intranet
  • AASHTO Technology Implementation Group for RSAs
  • Highway Safety Manual
  • Interactive Highway Safety Design Module software
  • Safety Analyst software
  • Value Engineering Projects
  • Context Sensitive Solutions Projects
  • Environmental Impact Studies
  • Transportation Safety Planning Initiative
  • FHWA's peer exchange program
  • Statewide SHSPs or CHSPs
  • Partnerships with agencies such as AAA
Addressing Primary RSA Customers
Audience/Customer Needs RSA Products/Strategies
Engineering Organizations and Associations Train employees on RSAs, develop agreements with neighboring jurisdictions to serve on RSA teams for each other’s projects, receive technical assistance, and help with their first RSA. Educate the elected officials and general public on why RSAs are important. RSA for Locals Training Course, RSA Guidelines and Prompt list, RSA Case Studies, Technical Assistance, RSA Peer–2–Peer, RSA Benefits, RSA Success Stories, products that show how RSAs move the numbers (research study), which consultants that are trained in RSAs
Risk Managers/Attorneys To protect their agency from lawsuits. RSA Guidelines, RSA Case Studies, RSA Legal Information and Experience of other State/Local/Tribal Governments
Planning Organizations and Associations Train employees on RSAs, develop agreements with neighboring jurisdictions to serve on RSA teams for each other's projects, receive technical assistance, and help with their first RSA. Educate the elected officials and general public on why RSAs are important. Commitments from implementing agencies on follow through with improvements RSA for Locals Training Course, RSA Guidelines and Prompt list, RSA Case Studies, Technical Assistance, RSA Peer–2–Peer, local examples of RSAs, RSA Benefits, RSA Success Stories
Federal Land Management Agencies (FLMAs) Crash data improvement, systematic safety improvements (through SMS) in parks, forest, refuges, and Indian lands, training on RSAs, agreements with neighboring jurisdictions to serve on RSA teams for each other's projects, technical assistance To leadership: Short briefing on RSAs and their potential, success stories, demonstrating benefits.
To technical staff: Promotional materials, guidelines and prompt list, training, peer–to peer program, RSA consultant technical assistance
Tribal Governments, Intertribal Association (ITA), Tribal Councils Tribal specific case studies, training on RSAs, assistance with their first RSA Tribal RSA Case Studies Peer–to–peer RSA program, technical assistance, RSA training
Public Safety Primarily focused on public safety as opposed to highway safety. They view their input limited to enforcement, emergency response and crash investigation. Short briefing on RSAs and their potential, success stories, demonstrating benefits, RSA Training

Market Trends

The road safety audit process looks at the roadway from a purely technical safety viewpoint without outside influences. It is a valuable process that gives an unbiased view of safety issues with support from safety experts. These recommendations are helpful when working with others, such as political leaders.

– Ricky May District Engineer

There are a couple trends that may affect the implementation of RSAs. The first trend relates to emphasis on partners. The second relates to agency leadership.

In the past, the FHWA has concentrated its efforts on state DOTs and has produced products for, and in conjunction with, these DOTs. Now the FHWA is moving forward on efforts to improve facilities where a majority of fatalities are occurring: two–lane rural roads. To further these efforts, FHWA is partnering with additional groups to reach the local road agencies and tribal governments with jurisdiction over these rural roads. The FHWA also is hiring more non–engineers and providing training in diverse areas, and some of FHWA's customers are non–engineers.

In addition, in many of the targeted agencies, the person responsible for transportation safety is a road superintendent, the director of street maintenance, or a transportation safety official. These individuals can have diverse backgrounds, not necessarily engineering.

With these trends in mind, RSA marketing efforts need to serve those with traditional engineering backgrounds and non–traditional backgrounds. Nontechnical marketing communication tools (e.g., brochures, videos, PowerPoint presentations) should be created to communicate effectively with nonengineers. In addition, local agencies lacking transportation and/or safety professionals may need technical assistance.

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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