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Title:County Road Survey for Transportation Managers
Publication Date:Jan 2011
Type:Issue Brief



North Dakota travel is dominated by rural roadways, as approximately 72% of the miles traveled are rural compared to just 33% nationwide. Rural roads are associated with a relatively high crash risk – over 80 percent of traffic fatalities occur on these rural roads (FHWA 2010a).

Local rural roads are the most dangerous network among road classes when considering fatality incidence. Fatalities are three times more likely on local roads than on principle arterials and four times more frequent than on interstates – considering travel exposure. Between 2002 and 2008, 87% of fatalities and 39% of the injuries in North Dakota occurred on rural roads (ND Crash Summary, 2008). Of these crashes, about one of three were on local roads.

A first step in contributing to local road safety is in understanding current priorities, practices, decision processes, and information needs. Here, local roads managers offer important insight in a statewide survey. Results show counties include safety elements in construction and maintenance, but few have any ongoing safety planning initiatives that institutionalize common road safety practices. For instance, none report regular use of the chevrons on curves—which has been proven highly effective in crash reduction. While almost half the counties reported using rumble strips or stripes, only one in four frequently apply this safety countermeas-ure. In another critical low-cost rural road safety feature, 80% have problems with right of way interference in trying to maintain an adequate clear zone. Additional findings are summarized below.

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NDSU Dept 2880P.O. Box 6050Fargo, ND 58108-6050