Transportation Safety Center Begins a New Cycle of Road Safety Activities

Image shows a curving roadway that is lined with trees with moss hanging from the branches.
Rural roads can be picturesque, but they can also present hazards to unwary drivers. Photo: UFTI-T2

The Transportation Safety Center (TSC) is housed at the UFTI-T2 Center and its focus is to enhance the safety on local and county roads in small rural counties in Florida, where local resources for this kind of analysis are often limited. Levy County is one of six counties selected for assistance in the most recent cycle of this project.  

The safety methodology adopted in this study was developed by the TSC and is an integrated systematic approach: a combination of hotspot analysis and a systemic approach. UFTI-T2 has disseminated the application and validation of this approach through peer-reviewed publication and presentations at several conferences.  

Hotspots are locations with a high history of fatal and incapacitating injury crashes. The systematic approach focuses on locations with high safety risk factors as determined from roadway characteristics.  

Typically, hotspots are selected by ranking safety performance functions of road segments, which boils down to ranking traffic volumes. In our current work, we are using a novel methodology that factors more than traffic volume into ranking hotspots to determine the locations with higher risk.  

First, crash predictions are made for focus locations based on road geometry (curves and intersections) through local safety performance functions (SPF). Second, ratio ranking of these crash predictions is compared to SPF predictions. In this way, the ratio rankings magnify hotspots that are due to a combination of factors and gives deeper insight into crash causes. 

For Levy County, some segments, curves, and intersections were selected in the preliminary hotspot analysis. Most of these hotspots were visited in a road safety audit by TSC team members. Field data collection has been completed, and the data analysis phase has begun. The model predictions and validations will follow in the next few months.  

Finally, with input from stakeholders, a local road safety plan will be developed for Levy County. Surveillance over subsequent months and years should indicate a reduction in crashes as steps are taken to improve safety at hotspot locations.