FHWA and Roadway Safety Foundation Honor 10 Life-Saving Projects


November 29, 2023

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FHWA and Roadway Safety Foundation Honor 10 Life-Saving Projects

2023 National Roadway Safety Awards recognize innovations to protect pedestrians, cyclists and motorists as pandemic spike in road fatalities continues mostly unabated

WASHINGTON – Ten innovative highway safety projects, representing the very best of the nation’s roadway safety practices, were honored today with National Roadway Safety Awards at a Capitol Hill ceremony. Two additional projects received honorable mentions.

The awards were presented by the leadership of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Roadway Safety Foundation (RSF), which jointly sponsor the competition. Begun in 1999, the biennial National Roadway Safety Awards honor initiatives that improve roadway safety at the state and local level.

“The problem-solving creativity and dedication shown by every one of the award winners and honorees will save countless lives – using a data driven approach and practices that are proven to reduce crashes,” said Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt.  “The 2023 award winners demonstrate a strong commitment to moving the United States toward zero deaths and serious injuries on our nation’s roadways, and we are proud to applaud their efforts.”

Much of the honorees’ work began amid a nationwide spike in vehicular crashes during the pandemic, when U.S. roadway fatalities rose 7.3 percent in 2020 and a further 10.1 percent in 2021 before holding steady at a high level in 2022 (-0.3 percent).  

Early estimates for the first half of 2023 show crash fatalities declined slightly but remain at levels not seen since the mid-2000s. Between January and June, fatalities nationwide declined by an estimated 3.3 percent, compared with the first six months of 2022, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

“The stubbornly elevated fatality numbers underscore the urgent need for innovations like the National Roadway Safety Award honorees’ projects,” said Roadway Safety Foundation Executive Director Bruce Hamilton. “With several initiatives already showing major reductions in fatalities, injuries and crashes, today’s honorees are shining a bright light on the path to safer travel.”

Applicants for the National Roadway Safety Awards were encouraged to nominate projects and programs that are innovative, effective and cost efficient. The awards covered two categories:

  • Infrastructure and Operational Improvements; and
  • Program Planning, Development and Evaluation.

Ten winners and two honorable mentions were announced. The winners are:

  • California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) for instituting a pilot program that rapidly installs wrong-way driver prevention and other safety enhancements. The approach allows Caltrans districts to implement stand-alone safety projects more quickly than through traditional means, delivering new signs, high visibility crosswalks, curve warning signs and other cost-effective safety measures within a single year.  
  • Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) for converting 20 low-volume intersections from two-way to all-way stops. In the two years following the change (2021 and 2022), the number of crashes at those intersections fell by 71 percent. Fatal crashes dropped by 75 percent, while crashes with injuries plummeted by 90 percent.
  • Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) for demonstrating how increased pavement friction helps motorists stop more quickly and retain better control at high-speed intersections. FDOT added highly skid-resistant material to the road surface at three intersections in Tampa and during the two years after implementation, improper stopping behaviors (e.g., vehicles coming to stops in crosswalks) were reduced between 11 percent and 31 percent.
  • Illinois Tollway (Tollway) for creating a mobile web application that provides traffic managers with instant access to livestream video, incident details, and status updates of roadway incidents, thereby enabling them to respond more rapidly. The TIMS2GO app is credited for reducing the average time to confirm and respond to an incident from 5.1 minutes in 2019 to 4.5 minutes in 2023. 
  • (Louisiana) Acadiana Planning Commission (APC) for reducing fatal and serious injuries at rural “T” intersections. After thoroughly analyzing crash and other data, APC identified 18 problematic intersections where the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development installed new rumble strips, new flashing beacons and larger stop signs. Since the safety measures were deployed, crashes at the intersections dropped from 89 total crashes (2014 through 2017) to only eight (2020 through 2022).
  • Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) for installing more than 80 “J-turn” intersections since 2010, mostly on divided rural highways. A 2021 evaluation found a 69 percent reduction in fatal and serious injury crashes due to the addition of the J-turns. J-turns are used on four-lane divided highways where intersecting roads have too little traffic to require a traffic light. With J-turns, motorists on the lightly traveled road who want to go straight across the more heavily traveled highway or are bound for destinations to the left are first routed to the right on the highway and then to a U-turn down the road, enabling safer, more gradual merges.
  • North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) for significantly reducing the number of fatal and serious injury crashes at rural intersections. Included in NCDOT’s improvements was the addition of all-way stops at 350 rural intersections. As of fall 2022, those intersections showed a 55 percent reduction in total crashes and a 92 percent drop in crashes with fatalities and severe injuries.
  • Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) for its use of highly timely crash data to prioritize safety improvements on the Authority’s roads, tunnels, and bridges. Analysts use the Traffic Safety Improvement Program to spot short-term trends, collision patterns and clusters of crashes, helping the authority quickly address problem areas. The PANYNJ initiative resulted in a 46 percent reduction in crashes across its roadway system.  
  • South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization (SJTPO) for developing a Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Action Plan that helped secure $32 million in federal funding for six busy corridors in Cumberland County. Projects will include more visible crosswalks, shorter intersection crossings, and narrowed roads to slow down vehicular traffic.
  • Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) for working with community leaders to prevent pedestrians from crossing a section of Interstate 35 in Austin. As of June 2023, the “Be Safe, Be Seen” education campaign, together with infrastructure enhancements, contributed to a 64 percent fewer pedestrian fatalities overall and 89 percent fewer fatalities among unhoused pedestrians. 

The honorable mentions are:                

  • Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) for preparing the state’s first Speed Management Action Plan to identify ways to slow down drivers through improved road design, more visible law enforcement and public education. Between 2015 and 2019, 31 percent of Nevada’s total fatal crashes were related to high speed.
  • Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) for funding lower cost but more widespread safety initiatives to prevent traffic fatalities and serious injuries. Breaking with the traditional practice of implementing spot safety improvements in response to crashes at a specific site, VDOT’s new approach evaluates factors that contribute to crashes, including road design and traffic patterns, as well as the impact of recent nearby development (i.e., residential or commercial) that attracts more walkers or cyclists.

A highly credentialed expert panel of judges evaluated dozens of applications for their safety effectiveness, innovation and efficient use of resources. The panel members are:

  • Lori Diaz, The American Traffic Safety Services Foundation
  • Jennifer Hall, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
  • Adam Kirk, Kentucky Transportation Center
  • Stephen Read, Virginia Department of Transportation
  • Brian Roberts, Transportation Research Board
  • Terecia Wilson, Clemson University

For complete details on each of the winners and for more information on the national awards program, visit: www.roadwaysafety.org/awards.  

The Roadway Safety Foundation is a 501(c) (3) charitable and educational organization. Its mission is to reduce the frequency and severity of motor vehicle crashes, injuries, and fatalities through improvements to roadway systems and their environment.

The Federal Highway Administration is an agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation that supports State and local governments in the design, construction, and maintenance of the nation’s highway system and various federally and tribal owned lands. Through financial and technical assistance to State and local governments, FHWA is responsible for ensuring that America’s roads and highways continue to be among the safest and most technologically sound in the world.