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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 69 · No. 1 > National Highway Institute

Jul/Aug 2005
Vol. 69 · No. 1

Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-05-006

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The National Highway Institute (NHI)

901 N. Stuart Street, Suite 300

Arlington, VA 22203

www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov

Training Update

NHI Fosters Collaboration Between Safety and ITS Communities

The U.S. rate of highway fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled—1.48 in 2003—compares favorably with that of European countries. However, the relatively high rate of highway deaths per 100,000 people—14.66 in the same year—reveals the Nation’s high level of mobility and the consequent need for continued safety improvements. To identify highway safety challenges and recommend improvements, the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Office of Safety, in partnership with the Office of Professional and Corporate Development, conducted a survey on highway safety in March 2002. The survey results led to recommendations that included offering courses on safety. To address this need, the National Highway Institute (NHI), the training branch of FHWA, now provides training focused on fostering sustainable collaboration between intelligent transportation systems (ITS) and highway safety communities.

In one of its newest classes, Improving Highway Safety with ITS (#137044), NHI provides an interactive training environment where practitioners learn to use ITS technologies in safety planning, project execution, and other areas to improve highway safety at both the project and strategic planning levels. In addition, the 2-day course will increase awareness of how transportation agencies can use ITS applications to make highway safety improvements for stand-alone projects, mainstream projects, and even entire highway systems. By increasing awareness of these links, the course will enhance collaboration between ITS and safety personnel while providing participants with basic tools and resources needed to choose appropriate ITS solutions for various highway safety issues. In fact, the Office of Safety, the ITS Joint Program Office, and the Operations Technical Service Team from the FHWA Resource Center—all of whom helped develop or fund the course—have begun an important effort to increase interaction between transportation engineers who focus primarily on solving safety issues and those focused on implementing ITS.

These activities indicate increasing recognition that transportation professionals involved with roadway safety, operations, and even infrastructure, encounter ITS technologies daily. Although training traditionally has catered to transportation professionals who deal with ITS routinely, agencies such as NHI are providing more opportunities for professionals who want to learn more about the functions of ITS and how they relate to their respective sectors. This particular course will draw roadway planners, operators, designers, and maintenance personnel from State departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, and other city and county agencies. Course organizers hope to achieve an equal representation of participants from the safety and ITS sectors in each class.

The course will include some lectures using Microsoft¨ PowerPoint¨ slides but will rely more heavily on workshops, teamed problem-solving activities, and sessions to develop action plans. After participating in the lectures and sessions and exchanging experiences, each participant will have learned about:

  • Other participants’ highway safety challenges and successes in the context of ways that ITS can help
  • Highway safety priorities specific to their States or local transportation agencies
  • Ways in which ITS can contribute to improved highway safety and traffic operations in work zones
  • ITS-supported countermeasures that address highway safety priorities identified in the participants’ jurisdictions
  • Organization-level activities appropriate and necessary for potential ITS and safety collaboration on planning
  • Actions needed to enable the development and implementation of a collaborative safety-ITS program

The course, piloted in February 2005 and available more widely in November 2005, can be accessed via NHI instructor-led training at regular prices. FHWA also has developed a 1-hour executive summary for senior officials. Course materials will be available for review, especially to potential instructors and training institutions. Course planners suggest that participants have some experience in either ITS or highway safety and have some familiarity with strategic planning activities and goals or ITS strategic activities and initiatives in their States.

The FHWA Resource Center and Office of Safety, starting in 2002, offered the original version of the training as a workshop, Improving Highway Safety with ITS, in several States while it was being refined as an NHI course. The workshop not only attracted more than 240 participants at presentations in Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, but also achieved the highest attendance of all workshops at the Intelligent Transportation Society of America’s 2004 Annual Meeting & Exposition in San Antonio, TX. The transportation community’s enthusiasm revealed a growing demand for safety courses that reflect the increasingly explicit, primary, and data-driven nature of safety and the use of ITS technologies to solve specific safety problems.

“This course brings safety and ITS professionals together to collaborate on the common goal of how to save lives on our highway system,” says retired FHWA Associate Administrator for Safety A. George Ostensen. “FHWA has increased its national emphasis on safety training in order to accelerate the rate of improvement in saving lives on our Nation’s highway system.”

For more information, contact Ann Gretter, NHI, at 703-235-1260 or ann.gretter@fhwa.dot.gov. For technical information on the course, contact Morris Oliver (Safety) at 202-366-2251, morris.oliver@fhwa.dot.gov, or Ron Giguere (ITS) at 202-366-2203, ron.giguere@fhwa.dot.gov. To schedule a course, contact Danielle Mathis-Lee at 703-235-0527 or e-mail danielle.mathis-lee@fhwa.dot.gov. To obtain information about NHI courses, access the course catalog at www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov or contact NHI at 4600 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 800, Arlington, VA, 22203; 703-235-0500 (phone); or 703-235-0593 (fax).

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