Research Request: Rural Road Redesign?


As part of your membership benefits, the Alliance staff provide research services for local government member submitted requests. Topics can range from pressing issues to emerging trends. This benefit is made possible through our partnership with Arizona State University Marvins Andrews Fellowship

Request Prompt:

“Countermeasures for improving safety on two-lane rural roads. Can include components such as recommendations on safe three lane rural road designs.”

Summary of Findings:

The improvements to a given segment of roadway will be largely dependent on location (intersection, thoroughfare, etc) and physical challenges of the space around the roadway. Ultimately, a variety of data will be needed to correctly interpret the initial assessment and needed improvements.  


Going forward and due to the public’s safety, we would recommend first consulting with your organization’s designated roadway and street network engineers and/or planners to determine the next best steps for your community.  


Background Research:

Improving Safety on Rural Local and Tribal Roads Safety Toolkit, Federal Highway Administration, August 2014: 

Comprehensive toolkit designed for small staff: “Rural agencies are keenly aware of the need to improve roadway safety; however, because the same few staff members have wide-ranging responsibilities that often include planning, engineering, design, landscaping, construction and construction oversight, and maintenance – it can be challenging for them to also address roadway safety.” 

Diagnose Site Crash Conditions and Identify Countermeasures begins on pg. 44 

The NCHRP 500 Reports noted on pg. 59 may be of use – “publications that help local practitioners reduce injuries and fatalities in targeted areas. Each publication addresses a specific type of crash or contributing factor” 


Safety Effects of the Conversion of Rural Two-Lane Roadways to Four-Lane Roadways, Federal Highway Administration, November 1999:  

Provides “basic methodology involved the development of cross-sectional models”. 

Utilization of Highway Safety Information Systems (HSIS) – “multi-State safety database that contains accident, roadway inventory, and traffic volume data for a select group of States. The participating States, California, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Utah, and Washington, were selected based on the quality of their data, the range of data available, and their ability to merge data from the various files” [see below]



Making Two-Lane Roads Safer, Federal Highway Administration Research and TechnologyRaymond A. Krammes and Carl Hayden, January 2003:  

Preview of Interactive Highway Safety Design Model (IHSDM) – “suite of software analysis tools for evaluating the safety and operational effects of geometric design decisions on two-lane rural highways” 


Update of Revision to Geometric Design Guidelines for Very Low-Volume Local Roads, Virginia Department of Transportation, Barton A. Thrasher, P.E., June 2016:  preview of the update to the 2011 AASHTO  



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