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Chapter One

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General Report Information
Executive Summary
Chapter One - Introduction
Chapter Two - Key Findings
Chapter Three - Common Safety Program Themes
Chapter Four - Recommendations and Implementation Strategy
Appendix A - European Contacts
Appendix B - Team Members
Appendix C - Amplifying Questions

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Study Objective and Focus Areas
Study Organization
Panel Composition
Amplifying Questions


Highway safety is a primary focus of transportation professionals. Both the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) have identified safety as a key emphasis, and both organizations have created strategic plans and priority programs in the safety area. A number of State departments of transportation (DOTs) have used AASHTO and USDOT as examples in creating their own safety plans and programs. A reduction in highway fatalities and injuries is the common goal of all these plans.

Highway safety improvements, or reductions in highway fatalities and injuries, require the effective coordination of a diverse set of activities implemented by a wide range of transportation professionals. Safety improvements traditionally have been segmented into those related to the "3 E's" - engineering, education, and enforcement measures - but other activities, such as emergency medical services and maintenance, also are relevant. In the United States, individual administrative units, agencies, or organizations focusing on one of the 3 E's often complete safety improvements independently. Fortunately, many experts now recognize that a "stovepipe" or nonsystematic mentality toward implementing safety improvements is not always effective. Internationally, recognition of this fact has produced specific safety policies and significant crash reductions.

The how, why, where, and when of programming decisions related to the implementation of safety improvements can be complex. It often requires the cooperation and coordination of a large number of people and funding sources. Recognizing that innovations from other countries could greatly influence U.S. practice, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and AASHTO sponsored an international technology scanning study to investigate management and organization of comprehensive highway safety programs.

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The objective of the scanning study was to investigate and review the supporting mechanisms used in planning, developing, and implementing highway safety programs. The team examined policies, strategies, programs, analytical tools, outreach efforts, and public-private sector relationships and roles that guide these decisions. Of particular interest to the team were:

Meetings with experts in each country were designed to address one or all of these four focus areas, and the scanning study's goal was to identify safety policies, programs, and practices from each country that helped reduce roadway fatalities and injuries. The scanning team evaluated the possibility of implementing the European approaches and measures observed. Significant findings and commonalities among the countries are documented in this report. During the study, team members met with a diverse set of representatives from national transportation administrations and ministries, state departments of transportation, university faculty, research organizations, and nongovernmental organizations.

Key findings of the scanning study of each country are described in Chapter Two and the common themes found in these highly effective safety programs are discussed in Chapter Three. Chapter Four summarizes the recommendations and implementation strategies the scanning team proposes.

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The scanning team conducted its study of managing and organizing comprehensive highway safety in Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom from March 1 to 17, 2002. Primary contacts in these countries are listed in Appendix A. The countries and dates they were visited are shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Safety scan countries and dates visited.

Dates of Visit
March 2-5, 2002
March 6-9, 2002
The Netherlands
March 10-12, 2002
The United Kingdom
March 13-17, 2002

The team chose these countries because of their recent highway fatality reductions, past highway safety records and experience, and international reputation for cooperation and coordination in highway safety programming. Table 2, adapted from a German summary of highway fatalities in Europe and the United States, shows crash statistics and population of each country visited and the United States.(1)
The size of the countries visited during the study varied considerably. Sweden is a little larger than California in land area and had an estimated July 1998 population of 8.9 million (1/30 of the U.S. population). Similarly, Germany is slightly smaller than Montana and had an estimated July 2000 population of 82.8 million (1/3 of the U.S. population). The Netherlands is about twice the size of New Jersey and had a July 2000 population of about 15.9 million (1/20 of the U.S. population). Finally, the United Kingdom is slightly smaller in land area than Oregon and had a July 2000 population of about 59.5 million (1/5 of the U.S. population).

Table 2. Scanning study country 1999 safety statistics.

Germany The Netherlands Sweden United Kingdom United States
Population (millions)
Public Road Network
(1,000 Miles)
244.4 (a)
Total Annual Fatalities
Fatalities per 100,000 People
Fatalities per Billion Vehicle-Miles
15.0 (b)
13.1 (a)

(a) Data from 1997 (b) Data from 1998

Table 2 also shows that highway fatality rates per 100,000 population in the four countries the scanning team visited were 40 to 60 percent of the rate found in the United States. Fatality rates per billion vehicle-miles traveled, however, were 84 to 97 percent of the U.S. rate in three of the countries visited. The German rate was higher than the U.S. rate.

The scanning team also held three internal organizational meetings during the study. The team met March 3, 2002, to organize the study, emphasize its purpose, assign note-recording requirements, and identify team members' primary interests. The team held a mid-study meeting March 10 to review primary findings and common themes for the first two countries visited, discuss the remainder of the study, and reiterate its purpose. The team met March 16 to review key findings from the final two countries, determine common policy and themes in each of the four countries, develop preliminary recommendations and a final report outline, and organize a strategy implementation team.

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FHWA and AASHTO sponsored the scanning study, which was organized by American Trade Initiatives, Inc. The study was scheduled initially for September 2001, but was rescheduled for March 2002 after the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon. The rescheduling required replacement of some team members.

Team members were selected to represent the diversity of professionals involved in highway safety. The 11-member team included representatives from FHWA, two universities, five State DOTs, and a non-profit private research organization. The team included engineers, a State patrol superintendent, and a governor’s highway safety bureau representative. Team members’ safety expertise included roadway design, enforcement measures, educational programs, research, and technology transfer. Team members and their representative organizations are shown in Table 3. Contact information information and biographic sketches for each member are included in Appendix B.

Table 3. Team members and organizations.

Dwight Bower
Idaho Department of Transportation
Douglas Harwood
Midwest Research Institute
John Baxter
FHWA Indiana Division
Keith Knapp
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Mike Crow
Kansas Department of Transportation
George “Ed� Rice, Jr.
Florida Department of Transportation
Troy Costales
Oregon Department of Transportation
Douglas Van Buren
Wisconsin Department of Transportation
Michael Griffith
FHWA Office of Safety Research and Development
Eugene Wilson
University of Wyoming
Michael Halladay
FHWA Office of Safety

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The scanning team developed a series of amplifying questions to help focus the discussion with European safety experts and show them what subjects, topics, and issues were of interest. They included investigation of national safety goals and plans; decision-making and management processes, policies and procedures; resources, analytical tools, and legislative policies; and examples and results of good and poor safety improvements. The questions provided to the European hosts before the scanning study are included in Appendix C.

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