Planning document helps target highway safety efforts

Brent Jennings, PE
Highway Safety Manager

Good guidance is very important to the safety and well being of our lives on a daily basis. Knowing where we are now and where we are going in the future is critical to success. If you have ever tried to put a swing set together without reading the instructions you probably know what I am talking about. The instructions let you know where you currently are (for me a state of confusion) and how you need to proceed to be successful. This good direction takes us to an end result of a well-built swing set and happy little people.

Our Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) is a living guidance document. It is a data-driven, comprehensive plan that includes goals, emphasis areas and strategies to work toward the elimination of traffic deaths and serious injuries on all roadways in Idaho. It focuses resources on education, enforcement, engineering and emergency response.

Our current SHSP expires at the end of 2012. The task to create our next SHSP has started and instructions are emerging to complete this task. The current SHSP was created with the help of over 100 of our valued safety partners and we will utilize the talents and abilities of our safety partners again to create the next SHSP. The vision is to create a living document that will establish goals and strategies for the next five years.

The goal to achieve no more than 200 traffic deaths by 2012 was realized by utilizing the operating philosophy shown below. I expect we will use this same guidance in our next plan.

1. Data-driven decisions - Return on investment will be maximized by thoroughly studying the crash data and all pertinent data, including best practices garnered from other states, so that we make effective and efficient use of limited resources.

2. Culture Change - We will promote a cultural change toward the concept that it is irresponsible and unacceptable to make poor choices when behind the wheel in Idaho. We also will work to change the belief that traffic deaths are just part of life in Idaho.

3. Commitment – We will stay the course. We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to save lives and keep families whole.

4. Partnerships – Partnerships multiply the message and commitment.

5. Evaluation – We will focus our efforts, review our progress, and evaluate to see how we can do better in the future.

The work has begun, and our goal is to publish the next SHSP in February of 2013. Many of our highway safety partners will be asked in the coming weeks to actively participate in this effort as together we continue to move in the direction of “Toward Zero Deaths.”

Published 8-31-2012