Structures of Stakeholder Relationships in Making Road Safety Decisions

A growing number of United States (U.S.) cities are beginning to incorporate more comprehensive, “safe systems” approaches to road safety. As a field, this project will have developed a robust understanding the safety effectiveness of various countermeasures. Yet the project lacks a deep understanding of the social, economic, political, and demographic contexts in which safe systems strategies are conceived and applied. Further, the project knows little of the structure of relationships among actors and organizations that are responsible for making transportation safety decisions. The purpose of this project is to reveal potential new partners for engagement in transportation safety, as well as uncover effective, efficient, and equitable relationship network structures that ultimately result in relatively high quality transportation safety decisions. The key research questions we aim to address over the course of this project include: (1) which organizations and actors are involved in influencing the safety of cities’ transportation systems?; (2) how do these organizations and actors make transportation safety decisions?; and (3) what is the quality of final transportation safety decisions in terms of process (e.g., equitable distribution of funding) and outcome efficacy (e.g., selected countermeasures’ safety effectiveness)? The project will be divided in two phases: In the first phase, trained content analysts will conduct a systematic review of the content in existing plans, policy documents, programs, and municipal proceedings to look for activities, practices, and routines that enable organizations to understand and engage other organizations in their networks. Doing so with help the research team uncover relationships among organizations and how such relationships translate into transportation safety decision-making processes and outcomes. Between the first and second phases of this project, we will conduct a practitioner survey to identify the six most frequently citied cities transportation safety practitioners highlight as inspiration for developing safety programs. The purpose of this survey will be to increase the likelihood of organizations’ adoption of safe systems approaches to transportation safety. In phase 2 of the project, we will conduct site visits with the six cities identified in Phase 1A to carry out an organizational network analysis using semi-structured interviews and focus groups with key informants. During the visits, we will explore relationships among organizations within cities based on their communication patterns, use of funding and labor, and the rules and roles involved in making decisions related to project implementation. We will the compare the structure of relationships and networks between the six leader cities and assess which structural forms appear to lead to higher quality safety decisions (e.g., based on the known efficacy of selected countermeasures, the degree of equitable distribution of projects and programs, and the efficiency of project implementation). Anticipated products and outcomes of this project include detailed maps describing the structure of organizational network in six leading cities, as well as at least two reports that outline ways of using network analytic methods to better understand and advance safe systems approaches.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $200,000
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    Collaborative Sciences Center for Road Safety

    University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
    Chapel Hill, NC  United States  27514
  • Project Managers:

    Sandt, Laura

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center

    730 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard CB # 3430
    Chapel Hill, NC  United States  27599-3430

    University of California, Berkeley

    Transportation Center
    2614 Dwight Way, 2nd Floor
    Berkely, CA  United States  94720-1782
  • Principal Investigators:

    LaJeunesse, Seth

    Marshall, Stephen

    Cooper, Jill

  • Start Date: 20170301
  • Expected Completion Date: 20181231
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers Program

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01627993
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Collaborative Sciences Center for Road Safety
  • Contract Numbers: 69A3551747113
  • Files: UTC, RiP
  • Created Date: Feb 27 2017 12:21PM