Highway Safety Behavioral Strategies for Rural Areas

While rural areas account for about 30% of the total miles traveled and only 19% of the population lives in rural areas, half of all traffic fatalities occur in rural areas (Traffic Safety Facts. Report No. DOT HS 812 521). Although this certainly shows a need to improve safety in rural areas, numerous constraints and resource limitations hinder current safety efforts. For example, in most states the vast majority of rural road mileage is owned and managed by local governments. The 2012 Census of Governments found a total of 3,031 counties, 19,522 municipalities, and 16,364 townships in the United States, and most are either partially or entirely rural. In addition, the Bureau of Indian Affairs recognizes 573 American Indian tribes and Alaska Native Villages in the United States. The sheer number of rural jurisdictions makes it difficult to assure that programs aimed at improving rural transportation safety are effective in reaching all areas effectively and equitably. The large number of rural local government units vary considerably in the way they are organized, their legal authority, and the available financial and human resources. The vast rural highway mileage is another challenge: rural crashes are often widely dispersed, with a considerable degree of randomness in crash locations. This makes it difficult to apply traditional crash reduction strategies that focus on hot spots. Research is needed to move beyond infrastructure safety countermeasures and develop behavioral traffic safety tools that encourage safe driving choices in rural areas. The objective of this research is to develop a behavioral traffic safety countermeasure toolkit for highway safety partners involved with rural road safety (e.g., tribal authorities, local government, law enforcement, emergency responders, engineers) to reduce the frequency and severity of motor vehicle crashes on roads in rural areas. The countermeasure toolkit should be accessible and practical for use by partners with varying levels of traffic safety expertise. The BTSCRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective. The research plan should delineate the tasks required to accomplish the research objective. At a minimum, the tasks should include the following: (1) Define rural area roads for the purposes of this research; (2) Review the literature that has identified or evaluated the impacts of driver behavior and characteristics that have been found to contribute measurably to the frequency and severity of motor vehicle crashes on rural area roads; (3) Identify examples of successful behavioral safety rural road countermeasures; (4) Identify rural jurisdictions with significant reduction in motor vehicle crashes over the previous 5 years; (5) Identify examples of targeted, flexible, and adaptable behavioral safety messages and educational and outreach materials; (6) Propose a work plan to identify and communicate behavioral safety countermeasures to agencies with varying levels of rural road responsibilities; (7) Develop documentation and guidance to provide highway safety partners with an enhanced understanding of the effects of driver behavior, characteristics, and attitudes on measureable safety performance to inform countermeasure development and selection; (8) Develop training materials and instructional aids for each tool in the countermeasure toolkit; and (9) Propose countermeasure toolkit effectiveness measures and metrics. The proposed work plan must be divided into phases. Each phase must be organized by task, with each task described in detail. A kick-off teleconference of the research team and BTSCRP shall be scheduled within 1 month of the contract’s execution. Phase I will consist of information gathering and refinement of the work plan for subsequent phases, culminating in the submission of an interim report describing the work completed in Phase I, along with a refined scope of work for Phase II based on the research findings. An in-person meeting will be held with BTSCRP to discuss the results of the Phase I tasks. BTSCRP approval of the Phase I interim report is required before work can commence on subsequent phases. The project schedule shall include 1 month for BTSCRP review and approval of the interim report. Phase II shall consist of the BTSCRP-approved Phase II work plan and the development of the final deliverables. The final deliverables shall include (1) the behavioral traffic safety countermeasure toolkit; (2) a final report documenting the entire project and incorporating all other specified deliverable products of the research; (3) an electronic presentation of the behavioral traffic safety countermeasure toolkit that can be tailored for specific audiences; (4) recommendations for additional research; and (5) a stand-alone memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products”


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $300000
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Behavioral Traffic Safety Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Governors Highway Safety Association

    444 N. Capitol Street, NW, Suite 722
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, D.C.  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Rogers, William

  • Performing Organizations:

    Western Transportation Institute

    Montana State University
    P.O. Box 174250
    Bozeman, MT  United States  59717-4250
  • Principal Investigators:

    Sullivan, Jaime

  • Start Date: 20200624
  • Expected Completion Date: 20220224
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01708756
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: BTS-15
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Jun 24 2019 3:27PM