Washington State Department of Transportation County Safety Program Honored with a National Roadway Safety Award
WASHINGTON, DC During a national awards ceremony on Capitol Hill, the Roadway Safety Foundation (RSF) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) honored the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) for its efforts to encourage counties to develop data-driven local road safety plans. This WSDOT program was one of 10 recognized with a 2015 National Roadway Safety Award.
"More than 32,000 people died in traffic crashes in 2013 and millions of individuals suffered injuries," said Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau. "Innovative roadway safety programs are a critical part of saving lives and preventing injuries on our nation's highways."
In 2014, Washington State Department of Transportation implemented the County Safety Program, which requires counties to develop data-driven local road safety plans before they can apply for Highway Safety Improvement Program funding. The agency provided the counties with training and a summary of data that prioritized crash types, roadway characteristics and conditions in comparison to other counties. Nearly 80 percent of Washington state's 39 counties submitted safety plans. This resulted in funding for high priority projects around the state and increased local-level engagement in the safety planning process.
"The innovative highway safety projects honored today are vital because deficiencies in the roadway environment contribute to nearly one-third of all traffic deaths," said Roadway Safety Foundation Executive Director Greg Cohen. "The National Roadway Safety Awards are an opportunity to recognize the unsung heroes who plan, engineer and implement creative measures to help save lives on a daily basis and rarely receive credit for doing so."
The National Roadway Safety Award recipients were evaluated on three criteria: Effectiveness, Innovation, and Efficient use of resources. There were two award categories: Infrastructure and Operational Improvements and Program Planning, Development, and Evaluation.
"The use of local road safety plans has taken us another step forward in changing the safety culture in Washington State," said Kathleen Davis, Director of Washington State Department of Transportation Local Programs. "This new tool will be a significant benefit to counties statewide in our efforts to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries to achieve Target Zero. We will continue to support the development of local road safety plans for additional agencies going forward."
This year's Blue Ribbon Panel Judges included: Gregory M. Cohen, Executive Director, Roadway Safety Foundation; King W. Gee, Director of Engineering and Technical Services, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials; Mike Griffith, Director, Office of Safety Technologies, FHWA Office of Safety, Federal Highway Administration; Peter Kissinger, President & CEO, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety; Bernardo Kleiner, Senior Program Officer and Transportation Safety Specialist, Transportation Research Board; Jennifer Smith, Director, Image and Brands, Michelin; Marie B. Walsh, PhD, Director, Louisiana Local Technical Assistance Program; Terecia Wilson, Senior Fellow, Clemson University Institute for Global Road Safety and Security.