Safety Initiatives & Funding
Rural roads are the most dangerous roads in America. NHTSA reports that—nationwide, for the years 2000 through 2007—rural traffic fatality rates were more than twice that of urban areas. According to the FHWA, crashes on rural roads tend to be more severe for a number of reasons.
NHTSA also reported that in 2009, among all crashes that occurred on rural roadways, 80.6‰ of them were run-off-the-road crashes. Contributing factors include curved roads, high speed limit roads, fewer lanes, young drivers, speeding, alcohol use, driver performance related factors (sleepiness, inattentiveness, over-correction, crash-avoiding), and adverse weather conditions.
The FHWA defines a High Risk Rural Road (HRRR) as "any roadway functionally classified as a rural or minor collector or rural local road on which the accident rate for fatalities and incapacitating injuries exceeds the statewide average for functional classes of roadway; or that will likely have increases in traffic volume that are likely to create an accident rate for fatalities and incapacitating injuries that exceeds the statewide average for those functional classes of roadway."
Low-cost engineering improvements such as attention-getting signage, highly-visible road markings, curve delineation and other positive guidance measures help reduce risk and costly crashes.
Under MAP-21, separate funding for HRRRs was eliminated. Instead, HRRRs are simply eligible for funding under the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP). In addition: