• November 21st, 2011

Report Number: FHWA/VCTIR 12-R8

To incorporate safety into the regional planning process, a Virginia-specific resource guide was recently developed for use by districts of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and planning district commissions (PDCs). In order to determine how to enhance the implementation of the guide throughout Virginia, a pilot implementation of the guide was conducted in one Virginia PDCthe Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commissionwhere representatives helped identify tasks the guide should help them accomplish. Deliverables included (1) acquiring crash locations for incorporated cities (for which VDOT has not historically maintained roads); (2) identifying high-crash locations; (3) determining potential crash countermeasures; and (4) using safety-related performance measures that do not rely exclusively on crash data. These four deliverables corresponded to three modules in the resource guide: data needs (Deliverable 1), data analysis (Deliverables 2 and 3), and performance measures (Deliverable 4). The pilot implementation showed that most (87% of county crashes and 93% of city crashes) crashes could be successfully located in a geographic information system environment; that potential crash countermeasures could be identified based on a study of the characteristics of these crashes; and that for instances where crash data are likely to be sparse, non–crashbased performance measures are feasible. However, the pilot implementation showed that four additional types of guidance, not fully specified in the resource guide, may make accomplishing these tasks easier:

  • the steps for querying crashes from VDOT’s Crash Records Database and then importing those crashes into a geographic information system for an entire jurisdiction
  • approaches for determining what constitutes a crash cluster and whether a given cluster represents a relatively high concentration of crashes
  • ways to identify crash countermeasures based on examining crash characteristics; geometric characteristics; and, if necessary, the crash diagram and narrative
  • ways to use performance measures to support a program of interest to the region.

These four types of guidance are provided in Appendix B and in the examples provided in the body of this report. The pilot implementation also showed that it may be productive to focus on using the guide for short-term safety and planning initiatives first rather than focusing only on long-range planning issues.