The purpose of the Georgia Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) is to provide for a continuous and systematic procedure that identifies and reviews specific traffic safety issues around the state to identify locations with potential for improvement. The ultimate goal of the HSIP process is to reduce the number of crashes, injuries and fatalities by eliminating certain predominant types of crashes through the implementation of engineering solutions.
Each year, the Department sets aside safety funding to implement safety projects. The total Highway Safety Improvement Program allocation fell to approximately $32,714,305 because of limited federal availability during Fiscal Year 2015. This past year represented the ninth consecutive year of lower fatalities after reaching a 32-year high in 2005. Georgia’s total number of fatalities decreased 1.0% from the previous year. Despite no discernible change in statewide travel, Georgia’s statewide fatality rate continues to decrease. These trends are closely monitored by all highway safety professionals in Georgia and remain the focus of the state’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP).
The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) develops and supports the SHSP. The plan has specific Emphasis Area Task Teams that are organized to develop specific emphasis area countermeasures. Countermeasures are represented in proposed safety projects. Combining existing highway safety plans represented in HSIP and professional efforts of the task team members has successfully leveraged many existing resources to address the safety emphasis target areas. The multi-disciplinary safety teams have succeeded in engaging the four safety E’s into their efforts to identify safety projects.
Projects that comprise the HSIP are usually moderately-sized projects that include intersection improvements, signal upgrades (LEDs), ramp improvements, corridor improvements, turn lanes, signage, corridor improvements and traffic engineering studies. All public roads are included in one or more of the various emphasis areas of the program. Safety projects may be nominated or identified from a large number of sources. One of the most common methods is by an analysis of vehicle crash locations and types.
Locations reported by citizens, elected officials, local governments, city and county engineers, emergency agencies and metropolitan planning organizations are all accepted for analysis. A project may qualify as a safety project because of a positive impact on an existing safety problem, because of evidence that it will prevent a hazardous condition, or because, it falls into one of several pre-approved categories of improvements that are known to provide safety benefits. Examples of this last category include guardrail, traffic signals, railroad crossing warning devices, and most intersection improvements. Public pedestrian and bicycle facilities and traffic calming projects may also be eligible for hazard elimination projects. Once a project has been identified, a benefit/cost analysis is performed.
The Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) and local governments are encouraged to develop high crash lists for local roads that can be used to identify hazard elimination projects. City and county engineers and local public agencies are encouraged annually to examine local road systems and recommend safety projects. These projects will be submitted to the District Traffic Engineer for approval and recommendation for project concept and project programming in the Office of Traffic Operations in exactly the same manner as projects on the State Routes.
As Georgia highway fatalities continue to decline at 4 to 5% per year, the nation’s highway fatalities slightly declined three percent in 2013 to approximately 30,057 (FARS). The aggressive safety emphasis by Georgia DOT, the Department of Public Safety and the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety continue to keep the state’s numbers trending downward. Every Georgia DOT project is designed and constructed to meet or exceed federal safety guidelines. GDOT continues to look for still more ways to improve safety. The Office of Traffic Operations is refining and utilizing our crash data and road safety audits to improve safety and reduce fatalities, injuries and crashes. We are building roundabout intersections, increasing the use of cable barrier on divided roadways, raising center concrete median barriers, installing rumble strips, installing more retro-reflective signage, applying pavement markings, coordinating traffic signal timing and installing pedestrian accommodations to make our roads safer.
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