Save the Date: Rural Road Safety Awareness Week

Graphic with logo and dates for Rural Road Safety Awareness Week 2020

The National Center for Rural Road Safety is proud to announce the inaugural Rural Road Safety Awareness Week (RRSAW), which will take place the week of September 28th – October 2nd, 2020.

The goal of RRSAW is to dedicate a week to promoting rural road safety to the public, community leaders, and potential partners by telling the “rural story.” This event will shine a light on rural needs, challenges, and solutions, especially those that help all stakeholders make progress on the Rural Road to Zero fatalities and serious injuries.

RRSAW will be a social media driven campaign, so high levels of social media interaction will be the key to success for RRSAW.  The Center encourages individuals and agencies to use their own social media platforms to extend the reach of RRSAW’s stories and messages:

  • First, please friend the Center on Facebook (@ruralroadsafety) and follow it on LinkedIn (@national-center-for-rural-road-safety) to see daily posts during the week of RRSAW.
  • Next, please share or repost messages (or create original ones that highlight your own agency). Event organizers will be using hashtags #RuralRoadSafety and #RRSAW2020 for posts and encourage you to use the same ones. 

The Rural Safety Center has created daily themes for the week and will release targeted materials for each one:

  • Monday: Defining Rural
  • Tuesday: Rural Safety Champions
  • Wednesday: Rural Road Modes
  • Thursday: Proven Rural Safety Countermeasures
  • Friday: Rural Safety Culture

Through these topics, everyone will have a chance to share their experiences, answer fact-check questions, and learn about the topic of the day. Use the generic hashtags #RRSAW2020 and #RuralRoadSafety AND the specific hashtag of the day to makes sure you are included in the nation-wide conversation. The Rural Safety Center will be releasing a RRSAW Toolkit complete with social media messages and graphics at the end of August on the RRWAW webpage. Please feel free to share this with your colleagues and contact the Rural Safety Center with any questions you might have about the campaign.

WTI Co-hosts National Event on Rural Transportation Safety

vehicle on two-lane rural highway near barn with mountains in background

On Wednesday, August 12, the Western Transportation Institute (WTI), Montana State University (MSU), and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) co-hosted a national forum to raise awareness on “The Importance of Focusing on Transportation Safety in Rural America.”

NHTSA officials had originally planned August field tours to western states and public lands to view rural safety conditions and engage with state and local stakeholders on initiatives to enhance rural transportation safety. WTI was slated to host one of the public meetings on the MSU campus. Due to current travel restrictions, the entire field visit was transformed into a virtual forum.

Jason Carter, MSU Vice President of Research, Economic Development and Graduate Education, served as the webinar host, providing the welcome address and introducing remarks by NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens, USDOT Secretary Elaine Chao, U.S. Senator Steve Daines (MT), and U.S. Representative Greg Gianforte (MT).

In a panel discussion moderated by WTI Director David Kack, presenters provided an overview of critical rural transportation issues that impact the safety and effectiveness of the entire national transportation network, as well as current initiatives to enhance travel through rural areas:

The webinar attracted a large, national audience of more than 250 attendees.  To view the presentations in full, download the recorded webinar from the NHTSA website.

Rural Road Safety Summit – Registration Now Open!

Logo for Rural Road to Zero Virtual Summit in September 2020

The National Center for Rural Road Safety is excited to announce that the Third National Summit on Rural Road Safety will take place September 29 – October 1, 2020. Registration is now open for this action-oriented event, which is designed to provide professionals with plans and strategies for meeting their region’s Rural Road to Zero goals. 

This year’s virtual Summit will feature knowledgeable speakers and interactive sessions, including:

  • Results oriented safety strategies for rural areas
  • Action plans for growing positive safety culture in rural communities
  • A safe system approach for rural areas

In addition, attendees can participate in training sessions for the new Road Safety Champion Program, or in a poster session with the theme “How to Make Rural Roads Safe for Everyone.”

The summits have become a national forum for engaging a wide variety of stakeholders and raising awareness on critical rural road safety issues.  In 2016, the first summit, Moving Rural America, invited stakeholders to articulate critical issues and identify collaborative safety initiatives.  The second summit, held in 2018, focused on Bridging the Gap, highlighting proven safety measures and other strategies that participants could implement in their regions.  Previous summits have attracted participants from across the country and presenters from FHWA, CDC, National Association of Counties (NACO), Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), and more.  Registration for the 3rd Summit is open until September 21, 2020. There are also numerous opportunities for sponsors and vendors to participate and support the event. 

WEBINAR: Focus on Reducing Rural Roadway Departures (FoRRRwD)

Logo for National Center for Rural Road Safety

The National Center for Rural Road Safety is co-sponsoring a webinar with FHWA and NLTAPA on the Every Day Counts round five (EDC-5) initiative, “Focus on Reducing Rural Roadway Departures (FoRRRwD): Funding and Data to Identify Projects.” This free webinar will be presented on April 16, 2020, at 1 pm (Eastern time). Presenters from three states will share their guidance and experiences.  More information is available on the FHWA registration webpage.

WEBINAR: Reducing Disparities between Rural and Urban Seatbelt Use

On April 22, 2020, at 1 pm (Mountain Time), CHSC will present “Together for Life Utah: Reducing Disparities Between Urban and Rural Seat Belt Use Rates.” In 2013, the Highway Safety Office of the Utah Department of Public Safety engaged CHSC in a multi-year pilot project to reduce the significant disparities in seat belt use rates between Utah’s urban areas and rural areas. In this webinar, learn how the Together for Life Project successfully promoted seat belt use in seven rural counties by bolstering family rules, workplace rules, and bystander engagement. To register, visit the CHSC Webinar page.

Upcoming Webinar: Traffic Safety Culture Messaging

Logo for National Center for Rural Road SafetyThe National Center for Rural Road Safety will offer a free webinar on Wednesday, March 25 on “Traffic Safety Culture Messaging.” It will feature information on the forms, frame, and design of effective traffic safety messages, which are developed by applying an understanding of traffic safety culture. The webinar will be presented by Center for Health and Safety Culture Director Nic WardWebinar registration information is available on Safety Center website.

CHSC Announces March Webinar

The Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC) has announced a new webinar for March, entitled “The Center for Health and Safety Culture: Who We Are and How We Support Efforts to Improve Health and Safety.”  This free event will be presented on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm (Mountain Time)

This webinar will introduce CHSC and its staff, the Positive Culture Framework for improving health and safety, and the many services offered to support communities and organizations in their efforts to transform culture. The Center uses the latest science to address complex social issues to improve health and safety in a sustainable way and can help organizations and communities reach their health and safety goals. For more information or to register in advance, visit the CHSC webinar webpage.

Postcards from TRB

Group photo of ten WTI staff members at TRB Annual MeetingFourteen WTI researchers, affiliated faculty, fellows, and staff have returned from a busy and productive week at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. The premier transportation research event of the year, the meeting is attended by more than 13,000 transportation leaders, practitioners, and researchers from around the world.  The U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, addressed attendees at the Chair’s luncheon, speaking on initiatives to deploy innovative technologies such as V2X, or “vehicle to everything” communication.

WTI staff played key roles across numerous topics and forums – presenting research at panels and in poster sessions, participating in committees, and leading workshops. One of the highlights was the well-attended workshop on “Rural Transportation for Everyone: Policy and Practice in 2020,” led by Jaime Sullivan.

 

Naomi Fireman at podium giving presentation on e-bikes
Fellow Naomi Fireman presents e-bike research at a panel on bicycle safety

WEBINAR: Traffic Safety Culture and Its Relationship to Vision Zero

The Center for Health and Safety Culture, in partnership with the Traffic Safety Culture Pooled Fund, will lead a free webinar on December 3 on “Traffic Safety Culture and Its Relationship to Vision Zero.” The webinar will provide an overview of traffic safety culture theory, terminology, and methods, based on the newly published TSC Primer.  For more information and to register, visit the CHSC Upcoming Webinars page.

Transportation Fellows Benefit from Networking and Learning Opportunities at TRB Forums

Transportation Fellows Vince Ziols, Naomi Fireman, and Nathan Begay in field with mountain view near Kalispell, Montana.Recently, WTI co-hosted the Transportation Research Board (TRB) International Conference on Low Volume Roads, held in Kalispell, Montana earlier this fall.  Attendees who stayed a few extra days could opt to take part in another Transportation Research Board (TRB) event – the mid-year meeting of the TRB Committee on Transportation Needs of National Parks and Public Lands (ADA40), which has synergistic interests in topics related to providing access and safe travel in rural, remote, or unique locations.

Happy scheduling coincidence?  On the contrary, the two planning committees coordinated the dates of their forums to encourage attendance and allow participants to add value to their trips.  After learning about state-of-the practice management tools for low volume roads at the international conference, members of the National Parks committee held their own business meeting where they addressed emerging issues, such as the impacts and implications of visitors using E-bikes on public lands. Attendees also visited Glacier National Park where they learned about the management challenges of increasing visitation from Park Superintendent Jeff Mow and about transportation impacts on wildlife from Senior Wildlife Biologist John Waller.

The Public Lands Transportation Fellows attended both events and maximized the professional development opportunities.  Current fellows Vince Ziols, Naomi Fireman, and Nathan Begay are each assigned to a federal land unit where they work for one to two years on special transportation projects.  The TRB forums allow them to expand their knowledge on other emerging transportation issues.  Moreover, the Fellows had opportunities (not often available to young professionals) to collaborate and network with national transportation experts and leaders.

“At the Low Volume Roads conference, we were exposed to a productive mix of on-the-ground research and innovative thinking,” recalled the Fellows. “We met all sorts of people working on everything from safety signage to turning rail cars into pedestrian bridges to researching how autonomous vehicles could be used on public lands. We were inspired by everyone’s passion and dedication to public service. At the different field trips and events, we played ‘networking bingo’ and were able to converse with transportation professionals in a variety of fields.”

In addition, the discussion about E-bikes at the ADA 40 Committee meeting led to the development of a lectern session on this topic for the TRB Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. in January 2020. Fellow Naomi Firemen is conducting research on this issue at the Potomac River National Wildlife Refuge Complex. She was added to the January agenda and will have the chance to make a presentation to a national audience.  All three Fellows will also be showcasing posters about their research at the TRB Annual Meeting, which they are looking forward to: “We are excited for this year’s TRB conference to reconnect with the ADA40 committee, expand our networks, and learn about even more current and innovative transportation research topics.”