Safety Spending: Usually Begrudged, Often Misallocated

by Gerald A. Donaldson, Cent for Auto Safety, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Highway Safety: At the Crossroads


The author reviews the engineering decisions and statistical and other measures of project success in the use of Federal and state funds for roadside safety work in the Federal-aid Hazard Elimination and Railroad/Highway Grade Crossing categorical programs; in the non-Interstate Resurfacing, Restoration, and Rehabilitation effort on Federal-aid Primary, Secondary, and Urban roads; and in the national Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program. Both Federal and state administration of safety-related highway rehabilitation and roadside safety work are found to be seriously flawed, resulting in highway projects that usually lack a number of important safety corrections. Safety spending is demonstrated to be unsystematic, based on inadequate inventorying of hazardous locations and features, uses poor accident data, and applies invalid statistical measures of project success. It is concluded that safety spending is currently insufficient and, further, that it is impossible to judge the cost effectiveness of most safety work performed by the states.

Subject Headings: Project management | Rehabilitation | Safety | Traffic accidents | Railroad bridges | Highway and road management | Traffic safety | Standards and codes

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