Systemic Approaches to Rural Highway Safety
September 8, 2016
About the Seminar
Minnesota transportation engineers recently began applying the systemic safety approach to rural highway safety on county and state highways. This represents a true change in direction for how transportation engineers approach the issue of safety on our highways. The systemic safety approach considers the metric of risk versus the traditional metric of crash history. The risk of a highway facility considers characteristics such as geometry, traffic volume, and presence of key features such as railroad crossings. Network screening allows for the identification of high-risk locations. Low-cost safety strategies such as curve warning signing, rumble strips, and intersection lighting can then be installed at these high-risk locations to proactively reduce the risk of a future serious crash.
The systemic safety approach was first used widely in Minnesota through the County Road Safety Plans starting in 2011 and 2012 with promising early results. On state highways, the selection of high-risk locations using the systemic approach has been shown to correlate with those locations that produce most of the serious crashes. As experience confirms, serious crashes on the rural highway system are infrequent and appear to occur at random locations (i.e., there is a very low density of serious crashes). The traditional approach of using crash history alone does not provide confident statistical results. The systemic approach provides a powerful tool for transportation engineers to use as a data-driven safety approach to help achieve the goal of zero deaths.
About the Speaker
Vic Lund is the traffic engineer for St. Louis County, Minnesota, where he leads the Traffic Division. He is a member of the Minnesota County Engineers Association Highway Safety Committee and has served as a technical liaison for several research projects in Minnesota. He received his bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Michigan Technological University and his master's degree with an emphasis in transportation engineering from Iowa State University.