The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) recently was the recipient of two national safety awards from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Roadway Safety Foundation (RSF), the department announced.
ODOT was one of 14 organizations across the country recognized for its unique approach to making the state’s roads safer.
“As more vehicles travel our roads every year, safety continues to be a top priority for ODOT,” said Gov. Bob Taft. “Nationally, motor vehicle fatalities are the leading cause of death for all Americans from age six to 33. Ohio is committed to doing its part to reduce fatalities and make our roads as safe as possible for Ohioans and other motorists.”
“ODOT’s goal is to reduce fatalities on Ohio’s roads to less than 1,100 deaths per year by 2008,” ODOT Director Gordon Proctor added. “Reaching this goal will require working across the jurisdictional boundaries and constantly reviewing crash data and our procedures to make sure we’re dedicating the right resources to the right crash problems.”
In 2003, ODOT began gathering timely crash data to identify emerging trends and quickly implement solutions to reduce fatalities and crashes. To do this, ODOT doubled its annual funding for improving high-crash locations from $30 million to $65 million annually.
In 2004, ODOT initiated a new crash analysis program designed to identify work zone configurations that contribute to crash problems. The program uses historical and near real-time crash data to detect increases in crashes. The department can then quickly respond by identifying problems and modifying the work zones to prevent future crashes.
The strategic changes are showing results: in 2004, Ohio experienced 1.14 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, which translated into 1,285 fatalities on Ohio’s roads, well below the national rate of 1.48 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.
ODOT studies and addresses hundreds of locations annually including the top 200 non-freeway and up to 50 freeway high-crash locations. The department also addresses “hot spots” where crashes exceed set thresholds and congested locations statewide. Over the last two years, the department has delivered more than 700 low-cost safety projects as well as increased safety by reducing guardrail deficiencies by 75%, signing deficiencies by 67%, shoulder drop offs by 88% and pavement marking deficiencies by 55%. ODOT is also working with local governments, businesses and others to develop a comprehensive highway safety plan for the state.