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INDOT's Office of Traffic Safety administers safety programs that strive to meet state and federal safety goals. Traffic Safety works to reduce the frequency and severity of severe crashes on both the state highway system and local roads.
Improving highway safety is vital to the health and well-being of every Hoosier. According to the Centers for Disease Control, motor vehicle-related injuries are the leading cause of unintentional death for people in the United States.
Looking beyond the personal tragedy of death and injury, healthcare costs and lost productivity due to traffic crashes contribute to a significant economic loss annually. The annual cost of Indiana traffic crashes is calculated in the billion dollars.
Indiana’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan , as required by title 23 U.S.C. § 148, identifies critical highway safety problems and opportunities for saving lives, reducing suffering, and economic losses resulting from traffic crashes. It also serves to coordinate the traffic safety activities of state agencies, municipal entities and private highway safety organizations. Indiana continually evaluates and periodically revises the SHSP.
The SHSP documents coordination of purpose, common data sources, cooperative problem identification, emphasis areas, and partnerships. The lead state agencies evaluate implementation action plans annually as part of federally required highway safety action plans and reports.
The Highway Safety Improvement Program goal is to achieve a significant reduction in traffic fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads through the implementation of infrastructure-related highway safety improvements. The Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST) continues and refines the HSIP.
Detailed provisions pertaining to the HSIP, such as qualifying projects and federal funding share, are defined in Section 148 of Title 23, United States Code (23 USC 148).
To ensure that application of the HSIP is organized and systematic providing the greatest benefits to safety, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has established a formalized HSIP process that consists of three major components: planning, implementation and evaluation. These requirements are contained in Part 924, Title 23 Code of Federal Regulations (23 CFR 924).
Local governments should be aware of the requirements that must be met when applying for HSIP funding for local projects. INDOT has prepared a guidance document for local public agencies outlining how they can participate in the HSIP. It is essential that public agencies planning to apply for this funding read and understand the guidance before beginning the project application process.
Section 130 is the common name for the federal highway-rail grade crossing safety improvement fund, which is a special set-aside component of the HSIP. This is of particular importance in Indiana, which has more at grade public rail-highway crossings than all but four other states. The Section 130 program identifies and upgrades safety devices at the at grade public rail-highway crossings in Indiana most at risk for crashes with road users.
However, more than half of the at grade public crossings already have train activated warning devices and too often motorists pay little or no attention or blatantly disregard warning devices at highway-rail crossings. Motorists may drive across rail crossings day after day and rarely see a train only to be surprised when encountering one. Many deadly highway-rail accidents could be avoided if drivers would follow the posted warning devices. In the case of a crossing marked only with crossbucks and a yield or stop sign, slow or stop and look both ways before driving over a rail crossing.
Michael Holowaty, P.E.
Indiana Department of Transportation
100 N. Senate Ave., IGCN 958
Indianapolis, IN 46204