The U.S. Department of Transportation announced a national road safety improvement campaign that includes guidelines for local governments to follow. If followed, these “road diets” are expected to reduce traffic crashes by an average of 29 percent.
The U.S. Department of Transportation shared an 18-month strategy to cut down on the number of pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and fatalities across the country. The DOT will conduct road safety assessments in every state and provide resources for each community to help build out safer, more efficient roadways for drivers, public transit passengers and pedestrians. The road safety campaign offers a comprehensive approach to address:
- Infrastructure safety
- Vehicle safety
- Data collection
Since 2009, injuries and fatalities of pedestrians and bicyclists have increased faster than motor vehicle deaths. Pedestrian deaths jumped 6 percent between 2011 and 2012 alone, while bicycle fatalities increased 7 percent. The road diets are designed to reduce traffic crashes by 29 percent, and nearly in half for some smaller communities.
The initiative will proactively design roadways to be less dangerous, while providing drivers with technology resources to alert them when pedestrians and cyclists are nearby. The road safety assessments will show local transportation officials where and why gaps – areas with high crash risk – exist in the non-transportation network. Experts will then offer recommendations on how best to close these gaps.
The road diet guides will illustrate to local officials how to create more roadways with lower traffic volumes and added space for bicyclists and pedestrians. The additional resources provided will help small safety improvements be made throughout a transit network to ensure sustainable reductions in fatalities and injuries.
Northland, Missouri, is constructing its first diverging diamond interchange – is a diamond-shaped intersection where the two directions of traffic on the non-freeway road cross to the opposite side on both sides of the bridge at the freeway. The innovative interchange design will cost the Missouri Department of Transportation about $14 million which will be split between the MDOT, KCI Corridor TIF Commission and the Kansas City Aviation Department. The tax increment financing will come from 50 percent of the sales tax generated in the TIF plan.
The design of the intersection calls for traffic on the freeway over or underpass to drive on the opposite side of the road. It also incorporates a two-phase operation at stoplights, allowing for an increase in safety with greater traffic signal control over traffic flow.
The Kansas City Star reported the interchange design enables free-flowing right turns before crossovers and free-flowing left turns between crossovers. Vehicles never cross opposing traffic – significantly cutting down on opportunities for crashes and increasing traffic capacity.
The Missouri Department of Transportation estimates the traffic through the specific interchange will jump from 20,000 vehicles a day to 45,000 vehicles by 2030 as a result of the more efficient roadway layout.