ODOT has one of the largest safety programs in the country. The department dedicates about $102 million annually for engineering improvements at high-crash or severe-crash locations across the state. This funding can be used by ODOT District Offices or local governments to improve safety on any public roadway. In addition, ODOT invests millions of dollars more in safety improvements as part of routine resurfacing, bridge repair and major highway improvements.
A portion of the funding is also used to fund education (everymove.ohio.gov) and enforcement programs that encourage safer driving. At least 90% of all crashes in Ohio begin with some type of driver error.
Prioritizing Safety Locations for Review
Each year, ODOT staff reviews the top safety locations in Ohio. Beginning in 2011, the process for selecting locations has changed. Ohio is one of the first states in the country to fully implement SafetyAnalyst and use it to prioritize safety locations across Ohio. SafetyAnalyst uses state-of-the-art statistical methodologies to identify roadway locations and safety improvements with the highest potential for reducing crashes. The software system flags spot locations and road segments that have higher-than-predicted crash frequencies. It also flags locations for review based on crash severity.
This methodology is more efficient and cost effective and will allow the department to study fewer locations yet address more crashes each year. Click the logos below for additional information about the Highway Safety Manual (HSM) and SafetyAnalyst. Also, below is a link to locations with a higher-than-predicted crash frequency by emphasis area based on 2010 to 2012 crash data.
The Process For Reviewing and Improving Locations
Each District Office is required to study and address (if possible) any location within the Top 100 of each crash list (see links above). Each list contains unique locations. The lists may not total 100, as sites are removed when errors in the roadway inventory or crash data are determined. The selected locations become the Safety Annual Work Plan. Many local governments also identify and study high-crash or severe crash locations within their own jurisdiction.
To determine the best solutions for fixing these locations, each District Office and local government typically conducts an engineering analysis that includes a review of existing roadway conditions and crash reports. This analysis will help identify common crash patterns and probable causes to determine the best strategies to reduce crashes.
Projects sponsors are encouraged to examine a full range of options from short-term, low-cost strategies, such as new signs, pavement markings and drainage improvements to mid-cost, mid-term strategies such as new traffic signals, turn lanes and realignments.
District Offices or local governments may pay for these improvements through their annual budget or they can seek money each spring (April 30) and fall (September 30) through ODOT's Highway Safety Program. The maximum amount of funding available is $5 million per project.
A multi-discipline committee at ODOT headquarters reviews all applications and supporting safety studies. The committee can approve a proposal, select a different safety strategy or request further study before allocating money.
Once funding is secured, safety projects are scheduled for construction. How quickly projects proceed to construction depends on the available funding and complexity of the project. Short-term, low-cost projects can be implemented within a few months. Other projects that require environmental mitigation, complex engineering design and/or utility and right of way relocation may take several years. In all cases, ODOT encourages sponsors to act as quickly as possible. Upon project completion, the department monitors locations to make sure the improvements are reducing crashes as designed.