U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations
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Date: October 1978
Evaluation of Highway Safety Projects
Highway accident statistics indicate that the annual number and rate of traffic accident deaths have declined to the lowest levels since the early 1960's. This, along with the fact that annual vehicle miles of travel have generally increased through the same period, gives an indication that positive gains are being achieved from recent highway safety efforts. In general, programs aimed at improving the safety environment of the highway, the vehicle and the driver are responsible for the increase in highway safety.
Transportation programs administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are aimed at reducing traffic accident fatalities, injuries and property damages attributable to highway system failures as opposed to vehicle or driver failures. To create a hazard free highway system, FHWA has a comprehensive set of highway safety programs consisting of a full range of possible projects and improvement types, which includes rail-highway crossing, pavement marking, high hazard and removal of roadside obstacle projects.
On an aggregate basis, safety projects have produced reductions in the number and severity of traffic accidents. However, it is not fully known to what extent individual projects and improvement types contribute to this overall reduction. Thus, the effectiveness of individual projects and improvements need to be determined. This can be accomplished by conducting effectiveness evaluations. In recent times, the need for evaluation is required for all Federal aid safety projects. However, the interpretation of such evaluations are often erroneous due to the selection of an inappropriate experimental plan, lack of statistical testing procedures or misinterpretation of evaluation results. It is important that the quality and completeness with which effectiveness evaluations are conducted be improved to insure that evaluation results are valid and usable to the profession.
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