Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)
"Each statewide and metropolitan planning process shall provide for consideration of projects and strategies that will increase the safety and security of the transportation system for motorized and non-motorized users."
In 1998 Congress passed the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century or TEA-21. For the first time, this legislation requires state departments of transportation (DOTs) and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) to incorporate safety and security as priority factors in their respective transportation planning processes and activities. Prior to TEA-21, safety was sometimes a prominent factor in project development and design, but this legislation calls for safety consciousness in a more comprehensive, system wide, multi-modal context. It implies collaboration with the highway safety and motor carrier safety communities, transit operators, local jurisdictions and others.
To initiate discussion on the TEA-21 safety-planning factor, approximately 40 experienced professionals convened in Washington, DC in May 2000 to explore the independent planning processes and to identify data, tools, partners and other resources that are currently available or need to be developed for implementing the safety requirement. The meeting identified several issues, as well as some areas of agreement, associated with safety integration:
The Washington meeting also identified several key steps for promoting safety integration and a Steering Committee was formed to provide guidance and follow up. One of the recommended initiatives was to encourage a series of forums at the state level bringing representatives of the various interests together to discuss strategies for sharing resources and working collaboratively. Texas was one of six states that agreed to accept the challenge.
The National Steering Committee recognized the importance of establishing goals and objectives from both the national and state perspectives to ensure the forums produced measurable results. The Texas Planning Committee met on March 3, 2001 to discuss the forum's purpose, agenda, logistics and participants. Attendees included representatives of the Texas Department of Transportation (Planning and Operations), the Federal Highway Administration (Federal and Texas Division) and TRB.
The Steering Committee established national objectives for the forums:
The objectives articulated by TxDOT were as follows:
The Texas Forum was held on July 11-12, 2001. Nearly 50 people attended.
Welcome and Introductions
Jim Randall, Deputy Director of the Transportation Planning and Programming Division, TxDOT, opened the forum and welcomed the participants. Following his opening remarks, Roger Petzold, FHWA, reviewed the history of the state forum process and suggested potential roles for planning agencies:
He also challenged the audience to think about answers to questions that would help transportation and safety planners across the nation.
The introductory remarks were followed by presentations providing insight into the planning processes of TxDOT, the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) and TxDOT's Highway Safety Division.
Both the TxDOT and NCTCOG representatives focused primarily on the MPO planning process with attention to how the activity fits within the overall TxDOT planning operations. They reviewed the legislative history that involved the MPOs in the transportation planning process, MPO functions related to safety in planning, the TEA-21 planning factors and the various plans the MPOs are required to create. The plans and their interrelationships are shown in Table 1.
The planning tools include existing plans, databases, stakeholder involvement, research studies, and technical expertise from FHWA, FTA and TxDOT. Partners in safety planning are road authorities, alternative mode representatives, transportation users and the general public, schools, emergency services and enforcement providers and elected officials.
|ANNUAL WORK ACTIVITIES||Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP)||Unified Transportation Program|
|UPDATED EVERY TWO YEARS||Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)||Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP)|
|UPDATED EVERY FIVE YEARS||Long-Range Metropolitan Transportation Plan||Long-Range Statewide Transportation Plan|
We need to put a face on the safety issue. If the public truly understood the number of crashes, injuries and fatalities, they would be outraged.
The NCTCOG Strategic Plan for 1999 - 2003 includes a transportation-monitoring program that mandates an annual monitoring report. The monitored elements are:
Michael Morris also suggested a set of action-oriented indicators of success that could be used to
Why aren't we moving ahead on safety? We don't have the data.
measure progress and performance.
Bill Strawn of TxDOT's Highway Safety Division pointed out that their efforts focus primarily on driver behavior, but approximately 4.5 percent of the highway safety funds are devoted to work zone and walkability programs. However, according to Strawn, the number one cause of accidents is driver inattention and this is primarily due to a lack of driver training.
The Highway Safety Division is involved in data system improvements, including the conversion of milepost systems to GPS and training law enforcement on accurate accident reporting techniques. Associated efforts include the public health initiative to develop a trauma registry that will track motor vehicle accident victims through hospital care.
Much of the time during the Texas Forum was devoted to working in small groups to identify action steps for improving safety conscious planning. The Texas Planning Committee identified a set of issues to focus the breakout groups and a set of questions to guide the discussions.
The forum participants divided into three groups to discuss the four issues raised by the planning committee. They were asked to prioritize the issues according to their individual interests and perspectives and answer the questions posed with respect to each of their priority issues. The following section outlines the action steps proposed by the breakout groups.
How do the Texas MPOs integrate safety into the planning process?
Breakout Group Report
Participants in the Texas Safety Forum were straightforward when asked to articulate their basic needs to achieve safety integration:
The Forum leadership committed to pursue a number of initiatives to ensure that action takes place on some level with regard to a number of priorities.
|Javier||Avila||El Paso MPOfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|David||Bartz||FHWA TX Divisionemail@example.com|
|John||Bendele||TxDOT TPP (S)||firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Gabriel||Del Bosque||Laredo MPOemail@example.com|
|Mary||DeLeon||TxDOT TPP (S)||firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Roy||Gilyard||El Paso MPOemail@example.com|
|Orlando||Jamandre||TxDOT TPP (S)||firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Jerry||Jones||FHWA Fort Worthemail@example.com|
|Ed||Kabobel, Jr.||TxDOT Wacofirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Dan||Kessler||NCTCOG DFW MPOemail@example.com|
|Mike||Leary||FHWA TX Divisionfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Ted||Mitler||FHWA TX Divisionemail@example.com|
|Michael||Morris||NCTCOG DFW MPOfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Roger||Petzold||FHWA Washington, DCemail@example.com|
|Judy||Ramsey||TxDOT ELP||jramsey @dot.state.tx.us|
|Irene||Rico||FHWA TX Divisionfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Bill||Riley||TxDOT Fort Worthemail@example.com|
|Mayela||Sosa||FHWA TX Divisionfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Wilda||Won||TxDOT TPP (M)||email@example.com|
TEXAS SAFETY FORUM
July 11 (1:00 PM-5:00 PM) July 12 (8:00 AM-12:00 PM)
Red Lion Hotel
The TxDOT Planning group planned to distribute a survey to the MPOs to identify good practices and share the information during the state forum. The survey addressed the planning factors that are taken into account for making safety integration decisions. For example, TX uses formulas developed by TTI for distributing hazard elimination and rail grade crossing funds. The idea is to learn what "formulas" are used to integrate safety. TRB and FHWA prepared a draft survey for their use. The results had not been tabulated by the date for the forum.
The teams were planned to include representatives of the District and MPO planning departments, the transit authority, motor carrier safety, enforcement and safe communities. However the MPO teams at the forum were not fully representative of the targeted groups.
The Department of Public Safety and TxDOT had recently signed an agreement to hire a project director to distribute RFPs for software and hardware development to upgrade data systems at the local level.
See Appendix A for a forum participants' list.
See Appendix B for a copy of the formal agenda.
This organization serves as the MPO for the Dallas area.
Bill Strawn, Highway Safety Division, TxDOT
Tim Juarez, Metropolitan Planning Supervisor, TxDOT
Michael Morris, Director of Transportation, NCTCOG
These are updates to the 20-year horizon plans.
One group suggested a comprehensive safety goal: "All system users arrive at their destinations free from personal harm or property damage."
This suggestion was brought up throughout the forum in various groups and discussions. The participants suggested that a scan be conducted on other states' experiences with safety management systems and a TX process be created based on successful results in other jurisdictions.
A part of the discussion focused on desirable data elements to examine with respect to crash data: location, severity, road conditions, etc.; however, there was general agreement that the larger issues center on consistency of reporting standards and the ability to identify high accident locations.