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Policy Statement 367 - Highway Safety

 

Approved by the Transportation Policy Committee on March 16, 2017
Approved by the Policy Review Committee on June 5, 2017
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 29, 2017

Policy

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) advocates a significant, sustained effort to reduce traffic crashes and related deaths and injuries through improvements in all aspects of highway system performance. 

ASCE supports a program where significant enhancements in highway safety and the resulting reduction of property damage, injuries and deaths can be achieved by:

  • Increase funding for and further advance the USDOT's Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP);
  • Fully funding and implementing strategic highway safety plans required to be developed under FAST;;
  • Establishing and maintaining complete, current and accurate electronic traffic crash data in order to allow decision-makers to better understand high crash locations and to systematically apply proven safety countermeasures to roadways;  
  • Inspecting and auditing existing roadway systems to identify roadway hazards and safety improvement opportunities, and implementing highway and other engineering-related improvements proven effective in reducing the potential for, and severity of, traffic crashes;
  • Implementing innovative highway safety engineering design features, proven effective in reducing the potential for, and severity of, traffic crashes to roadways;
  • Enhancing the organizational prominence of highway safety within federal, state, and local transportation agencies to provide a more effective voice in agency administration, leadership development, and program direction;
    Improving work zone safety and mobility;
  • Continuing to improve understanding of motor vehicle performance characteristics, as well as the interaction between vehicle standards and highway system design on highway safety and to improve the overall effectiveness of existing motor vehicle standards;
  • Encouraging universities to continue to include highway safety issues in educational programs for engineering and other highway professionals;
  • Continued advancement of vehicle safety technology including frontal and side air bags, automated emergency braking systems, lane departure and forward collision warning systems, electronic stability control and connected vehicles;
  • Supporting additional funding for highway safety research and for the education of highway safety professionals;  
  • Expanding the development and application of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) programs to enhance highway traffic safety;
  • Increasing law enforcement to address driver behavior and other factors contributing to crashes; 
  • Improving and expanding public education programs to increase driver awareness of attitudes and behavior that affect highway safety;
  • Providing flexibility in federal aid funding programs for high priority highway safety improvement programs, and to continue targeting national safety problems through categorical funding; 
  • Addressing the issue of distracted driving through public education and legislation.; and
  • Implementing transportation systems that are appropriate and safe for all road users, for all modes of transportation, in all communities, and for all people of all ages, incomes, and abilities.  

Issue

In 2015, a total of 6,296,000 crashes occurred on roadways in the United States, including 32,166 fatal crashes that resulted in 35,092 deaths including 5,376 pedestrians and 818 cyclists. This represents approximately 1.12 fatalities per million vehicle miles of travel.  This was a 7.2% increase in fatalities from 2014, the largest percentage increase since 1966. An additional 2,440,000 people were injured in 1,715,000 crashes in 2015.  As highway usage continues to grow, industry, federal, state and local cooperation and funding are needed to preserve mobility while reducing the frequency and severity of traffic crashes. This effort should include a vigorous, enhanced, and integrated program of safety research, effective engineering-related system improvements, driver education and training to save lives and reduce the loss of human resources. The status quo comes with a high price tag. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study published in May 2015 reported that in 2010 motor vehicle crashes cost the U.S. $836 billion in economic loss and societal harm (NHTSA, The Economic and Societal Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2010).

Rationale

Highway safety is critical, with safer roadway systems reducing the loss of life, personal injuries, and loss of economic resource.  Highway safety initiatives include public awareness and education, sound engineering and operating practices, effective enforcement and continuing research supplemented by analysis and development of new and innovative traffic safety products and technologies to meet safety goals.  Safety initiatives must also take into account elements of human factors; pedestrians, bicyclists, and other system users; motor vehicles and their equipment; the infrastructure; and the manner in which these components interact. 

ASCE Policy Statement 367
First Approved in 1990

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