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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-19-002    Date:  Winter 2019
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-19-002
Issue No: Vol. 82 No. 4
Date: Winter 2019


Along The Road

Along the Road is the place to look for information about current and upcoming activities, developments, trends, and items of general interest to the highway community. This information comes from U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) sources unless otherwise indicated. Your suggestions and input are welcome. Let’s meet along the road.

Public Information and Information Exchange

Data Show Roadway Fatalities Decreasing

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released 2017 statistics that show highway fatalities are down following 2 consecutive years of significant increases. In addition, preliminary estimates for the first 6 months of 2018 appear to show that this downward trend continues into this year.

© TFoxFoto/Shutterstock
Photo. The front end of a red car smashed in, windshield is also broken.
Roadway fatalities fell nearly 2 percent in 2017.


In 2017, 37,133 people died in motor vehicle crashes, a decrease of 1.8 percent from 2016. In addition, pedestrian fatalities declined about 2 percent, the first decline since 2013, and the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled decreased by 2.5 percent—from 1.19 in 2016 to 1.16 in 2017—despite a 1.2-percent increase in vehicle miles traveled. However, the number of combination trucks involved in fatal crashes increased 5.8 percent. For the second year in a row, more fatalities occurred in urban areas than rural areas.

The 1.8-percent decrease from 2016 to 2017 contrasts the 6.5-percent increase from 2015 to 2016 and the 8.4-percent increase from 2014 and 2015.

For more information, visit https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812603 and https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812629.


USDOT Tests Connected Vehicles

The Federal Highway Administration’s Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC) in McLean, VA, successfully hosted a connected vehicle pilot program in partnership with USDOT’s Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Joint Program Office (JPO) in June 2018. The event, which was the largest and most successful interoperability testing of connected vehicle equipment to date, involved more than 100 test runs, 75 supporting participants, and 7 different vendors who provided equipment.

The goal of the program was to observe and analyze how well connected vehicle devices from various manufacturers operated and interacted with each other. Another goal was to analyze site configuration and the infrastructure needed to support connected vehicles.

Researchers are analyzing the data from the completed testing. Based on the results, manufacturers and programmers will take steps to improve the devices and software configuration, if necessary.

Photo. Two cars are about to enter an intersection with a green traffic light.
Drivers of connected vehicles proceed onto TFHRC’s closed testing course with connected roads and infrastructure during a pilot program in June 2018.


Photo. A man sits in the front passenger seat of a vehicle while holding a tablet computer.
Tony English of the Wyoming Department of Transportation participates in the connected vehicle pilot test.


The testing has already shown great promise. One participant noted that this was the first time in history that multiple devices were shown working with the security credential management system, a message security solution for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication.

For more information, contact Deborah Curtis at 202–493–3267 or deborah.curtis@dot.gov.

USDOT to Fund New UTCs

USDOT recently completed accepting applications for two new university transportation centers (UTCs). One center will focus on congestion relief while the other will focus on improving the durability and extending the life of transportation infrastructure.

Funding for the new UTCs was appropriated in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018. Applications closed in December 2018, and USDOT anticipates announcing the awards of $7.5 million for each center in spring 2019.

Each UTC is a consortium of 2- and 4-year colleges and universities that come together to form a unique center of transportation excellence on a specific research topic. The UTCs conduct research that directly supports the priorities of USDOT to promote the safe, efficient, and environmentally sound movement of goods and people. The centers work with regional, State, local, and Tribal transportation agencies to help find solutions to challenges that directly impact their communities and affect the efficiency of the Nation’s transportation system. The centers also enable students to work on cutting-edge transportation research.

For more information, visit www.transportation.gov/utc or contact Nancy Wilochka at 202–366–5128.

DelDOT Adds Suicide Prevention Signs to Bridges

The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) recently installed suicide prevention signs on five New Castle County bridges: Tyler McConnell Bridge, Rising Sun Bridge, Augustine Cutoff Bridge, the I–95 bridge over Brandywine River, and the I–495 bridge over Christina River.

Photo. A large sign mounted on a bridge barrier with the words “Suicide Prevention” in English and Spanish, the number of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255), and the words “When it seems like there is no hope, there is help.”
DelDOT installed suicide prevention signs like this one on five bridges in New Castle County.

In 2017, 114 lives were lost to suicide in Delaware. The signs include the message “When it seems like there is no hope, there is help.” They also include the number of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline—1-800-273-TALK (8255)—and the words “Suicide Prevention” in English and Spanish.

“Someone who is considering taking their own life may feel like there is no one out there for them. By placing these signs along these bridges throughout New Castle County, we’re sending a message to people: There is someone there. There is someone who will listen and who can help. If we can deter one person from taking their life, then these signs have more than served their purpose,” says State Representative Valerie Longhurst, who made the request to DelDOT for the signage.


Australia and Michigan Sign Cooperative MOU

In October 2018, the Australian Government and the State of Michigan signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to collaborate on high-tech vehicle and road systems. The MOU was signed by Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation, and the Honorable Andrew Broad, Australia’s assistant minister to the Deputy Prime Minister.

University of Melbourne
Photo. Two men sit at a table and display a signed document, with several men and women standing behind them.
Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan DOT (seated, left), and Andrew Broad, assistant minister to Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister (seated, right), signed an MOU between Michigan and Australia to collaborate on intelligent transportation research. Also pictured are representatives from Australia and Michigan who attended the signing.

The signing took place at the University of Melbourne, which has played a central role in advancing the transport technology agreement between the governments of Australia and Michigan. ITS Australia and Austroads, along with the University of Melbourne, are included in the MOU as keys to supporting the bilateral cooperation on connected, automated, and autonomous vehicle technologies occurring across the Australian and Michigan ITS communities. Austroads is a lead organization of Australasian road transport and traffic agencies. ITS Australia is an independent, nonprofit membership organization representing ITS suppliers, government authorities, academia, and transport businesses and users.

Activities in Michigan and Australia are leading the development of intelligent transportation technology. The MOU supports links between the Australian Integrated Multimodal EcoSystem (AIMES), home to a live test bed on Melbourne city streets, and Michigan’s Mcity and American Center for Mobility offroad facilities that will be highly beneficial in progressing advancement in this field.

ITS Australia

Defining the Language of Highway Removals

Cover of The Emerging Language of Highway Removals.
The Nation’s highway system provides connections to population centers, support for interstate commerce, and critical infrastructure for interstate freight movement. But in some urban communities, highways have had unintended consequences, such as dividing neighborhoods, creating barriers to walking and bicycling, and occupying valuable developable land in the hearts of inner cities. In some cases, this has led highway planners to rethink, remove, or relocate urban highways.

There are benefits and drawbacks to removing or changing a highway that runs through a city. A shared language and understanding can help communities explore the best options for their context. To help, the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) recently published The Emerging Language of Highway Removals. The publication provides language and vocabulary for communities to have informed conversations about removal and mitigation projects and an understanding of available tools. For every definition and concept, the report includes useful graphics to help practitioners visually explain the options.

For more information, the publication is available at www.pedbikeinfo.org/pdf/PBIC_HighwayRemoval_060618.pdf.




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