Highway Safety Office working to reduce
single-vehicle run-off-road crashes, fatalities

A wide-open stretch of rural roadway may lull drivers into complacency. No jockeying for lane position or suffocating cluster of cars and trucks in sight. It’s just open road and the rhythmic sound of tires gliding over pavement.

Sadly, it’s also when too many motorists die in single-vehicle crashes. They simply run off the road because of excessive speed, distractions or driver impairment, and often roll their vehicles. Many are ejected from these vehicles because they are not wearing seat belts.

ITD’s Office of Highway Safety and the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University recently began work on an evidence-based, social-marketing campaign meant to reduce single-vehicle run-off-road (ROR) crashes. The effort will employ a science-based process developed by the WTI from more than 20 years of research and outcomes.

The project focuses on developing a communication campaign designed to get drivers to make good driving decisions and not engage in risky driving behaviors that lead to run-off-road crashes.

“Early indications from WTI suggest that his may be ground-breaking work,” Highway Safety Manager Brent Jennings said. “It does not appear that others have embarked upon this journey, so the rest of the country will be interested in the results of this research project.”

Last year, single vehicle crashes represented only about one-third of all Idaho crashes, but accounted for nearly two-thirds of all fatal crashes in the state. Of the 111 fatal single-vehicle crashes ITD reported for 2010, 95 (86 percent) occurred on rural roadways.

Published 8-12-2011