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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-15-003    Date:  March/April 2015
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-15-003
Issue No: Vol. 78 No. 5
Date: March/April 2015


Internet Watch

by Carrie Boris

Office of Safety Refreshes Web Site and Launches Video Series

In 2012, highway crashes resulted in more than 33,500 fatalities in the United States. The Office of Safety is the lead champion within the Federal Highway Administra-tion advocating for the integration of safety into the entire life cycle of roadways--from planning and design to operations and maintenance. As part of its mission to reduce the number and severity of crashes, the office manages a variety of Web-based resources for the highway community and the public.

Recent updates to the office’s primary Web site at www.safety.fhwa.dot.gov make it easier for site users to find resources. In addition, the office released a new video series to educate transportation professionals and the public about how alternative intersections can help improve safety.

A New Look

In fall 2014, the Office of Safety redesigned its Web site to improve access for visitors. The streamlined, graphically oriented look features new programs more prominently and makes it easier for users to find the information they need more quickly.

The site’s home page received key updates including a rotating “slider” feature to promote new, time-sensitive, and frequently used content. Eight boxes below the slider highlight the office’s primary programs and subject areas: the Highway Safety Improvement Program, intersection safety, roadway departure safety, roadway safety data and analysis, pedestrian and bicycle safety, local and rural road safety, capacity building, and the Roadway Safety Data Dashboard.

Drop-down menus at the top of the page provide a cross-listing of programs as well as an extensive list of initiatives and other relevant resources. These include links for topics such as geometric design and road safety audits, and information for specific concerns like older road users and nighttime visibility. The list also provides links to resources including newsletters, statistics, and proven safety countermeasures.

The workgroup for the project included members from each team in the Office of Safety. The group worked closely with Web designers to ensure that the new look met best practices for Web design and organization, and achieved the office’s goals for ease of use and visual appeal. “The design update was truly a collaborative effort,” says Tara McLoughlin, a communications and marketing specialist with the Office of Safety. “We received input throughout the process from four focus groups conducted with staff from across the office.”

The updated look, which also includes visual revamps of several key subpages, launched on October 15, 2014. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, says McLoughlin. “The home page slider has been particularly popular with program managers as a dynamic way to promote new publications and upcoming webinars.”

Screenshot of the redesigned home page of FHWA’s Office of Safety Web site.

The updated design is a first step in a major undertaking to reorganize the Office of Safety’s entire 6,000-plus page Web site. The overhaul is a long-term effort that includes archiving out-of-date materials, adhering to plain language style, and refreshing content.

Videos on Alternative Intersections

Alternative intersections and interchanges offer the potential to improve safety and reduce delay at a lower construction cost, and with fewer impacts on the local environment and adjacent property than comparable traditional solutions. As part of the Every Day Counts initiative’s focus on alternative intersections, the Office of Safety produced a series of videos providing overviews of four types of alternative intersections, as well as a dozen video case studies.

The four overview videos run about 8 minutes each and describe in detail the diverging diamond interchange, the median U-turn, the displaced left turn, and the restricted crossing U-turn. The case study videos, which run 3 to 4 minutes, feature implementation of these designs in Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, and Utah. According to Jeff Shaw, a safety design engineer in FHWA’s Office of Safety, “the four informational overviews are more for nontechnical viewers, and the 12 video case studies are geared toward transportation professionals.”

Production of the videos began in fall 2013, and the completed videos became available on FHWA’s official YouTube channel by summer 2014. The video on diverging diamond intersections is the most popular so far, with more than 4,500 views as of December 2014. The full playlist of videos, titled “Alternative Intersec-tions,” is accessible on FHWA’s channel at www.youtube.com/user/USDOTFHWA/playlists.

Carrie Boris is a contributing editor for PUBLIC ROADS.



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