National Association for County Engineers

Advancing Local Road Safety Practices with State DOTs

  • ​Of the 35,095 roadway fatalities in 2015, more than half of them occurred on rural roads mostly owned by local agencies. The fatality rate is 2.4 times higher on rural roads than urban roads. The few state departments of transportation that have evaluated their programs and allocated resources based on fatalities have seen a significant drop in fatalities. 

    In July, 2016, the National Association for County Engineers decided to test a strategy using the Florida Department of Transportation. Florida has an extremely high number of fatalities compared to other states but statewide had allocated few federal dollars to address this issue. NACE reviewed the state data and developed a Florida-specific presentation that included best practices used by other states successfully.

    NACE then called a meeting with high-level state DOT employees, FHWA, the NACE Affiliate (FACERS), the Florida Tier 2 Center and other local representatives. The information was presented collaboratively, with much discussion by all parties. 

    Within a few weeks, FACERS became a signatory of Florida's Strategic Highway Safety Plan and a memo was sent to Florida DOT districts directing improved collaboration. In addition, the Forida safety engineer began a program to assist rural counties in addressing local road safety.

    This program will identify key states and replicate this process. First, state data will be reviewed to determine which states have the largest fatalities on local roads and largest percentage of local fatalities. Next, five states will be selected for further analysis and collaboration. The ultimate measure of success will be:

    • Improved collaboration between state and local agencies
    • Adoption of "new" proven practices that other states have used successfully
    • Changed behaviors on allocation of resources to localities

    The number of states visited will be another measure of the project's success. The goal is to visit a minimum of five states, however if all funds are not used, additional states may be targeted.

    The objective is to modify decision-making behaviors and measure this by identifying changes in the interactions between state and local officials.