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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-15-005    Date:  July/August 2015
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-15-005
Issue No: Vol. 79 No. 1
Date: July/August 2015


Internet Watch

by Carrie Boris

Expanded Resources for Safety Professionals

In 2013 in the United States, 32,719 people died in motor vehicle crashes. Roadway safety professionals across the country are striving to improve the safety of the Nation’s roads, but they face challenges as technologies emerge and new professionals enter the field. To support these safety stakeholders, the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Safety recently introduced two resources focused on professional capacity building.

The first is the Strategic Highway Safety Plan Community of Practice site, launched in summer 2014. The second is the revamped and expanded Roadway Safety Data Dashboard, which went live in January 2015. These sites offer practitioners quality safety data and practices to help agencies make sound decisions regarding the design and operation of roadways.

Building a Professional Community

A State’s strategic highway safety plan (SHSP) provides a comprehensive framework for reducing fatalities and serious injuries on public roads. The plan identifies the State’s key safety needs and guides investment decisions toward actions with the most potential for positive impact. The Office of Safety’s online SHSP Community of Practice, available at http://rspcb.safety.fhwa.dot.gov/SHSP_COP.aspx, offers a forum for safety professionals to interact with their peers and learn about the latest resources, practices, and events.

The Web site centralizes information about roadway safety practices and strategies. It includes nearly 70 examples focused on SHSP topics, as well as links to resources from FHWA and other partners. It also offers Safety Talk, a forum for safety professionals to discuss strategies and approaches for updating, implementing, and evaluating State safety plans. The forum is currently open to SHSP coordinators in State agencies, but FHWA may make it available to a broader group as well.

“The community of practice is intended for SHSP practitioners and stakeholders who represent the four E’s of safety: engineering, enforcement, education, and emergency services and response,” says Jennifer Warren, the SHSP program manager with the Office of Safety. “It builds community by offering a peer environment to develop informal mentoring groups and professional relationships and creates a ‘home’ for the most current SHSP information from around the country.”

Improving the Roadway Safety Data Dashboard

Screenshot of the home page of FHWA’s Office of Safety Web site for the Strategic Highway Safety Plan Community of Practice.

As part of another community of practice focused on safety data, the Office of Safety redesigned and updated its Roadway Safety Data Dashboard, available at http://rspcb.safety.fhwa.dot.gov/dashboard. The dashboard provides graphical presentations of various data elements that characterize fatal crashes on U.S. public roadways. Users can create charts and graphs to display fatality data related to the crashes, the vehicles, and the people involved.

“The redesigned dashboard improves the usability while expanding the capabilities of the site,” says Danielle Betkey, a safety data project manager with the Office of Safety.

FHWA overhauled the dashboard’s workflow to condense what had been multiple menus into one easy-to-follow, step-by-step procedure. Users can configure the dashboard to display fatalities at the national level, within a State or metropolitan planning organization’s jurisdiction, or between multiple geographic areas. The dashboard enables users to create customizable graphs and maps offering a wide variety of data and comparison options. Users also can share the customized dashboard using a link creator that generates a unique URL.

Expanded capabilities include the ability to add graphs comparing different States or regions to a single dashboard, as well as new display options such as line, spline (fitted curve), and area charts. Users also can take advantage of new combinations of ways to display and compare data, including the manner of collision, people involved, and location and setting.

For more information about the SHSP Community of Practice, contact Jennifer Warren at 202–366–2157 or jennifer.warren@dot.gov. For more information about the Roadway Safety Data Dashboard, contact Danielle Betkey at 202–366–9417 or danielle.betkey@dot.gov.

Carrie Boris is a contributing editor for Public Roads.



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