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Governor Urging Rural Drivers to Focus on Safety
September 19, 2007 - Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has proclaimed September 16-22, 2007 Indiana Rural Road Safety Week, and the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) is urging rural communities and drivers to focus on this critical public safety issue.
Each year more than 500 Hoosier motorists lose their lives on Indiana’s rural, non-interstate highways – accounting for nearly 70 percent of highway fatalities in Indiana. Nationally, while rural roads account for about a quarter of all vehicle travel, they account for more than half of all highway fatalities. Rural road safety is especially important in Indiana, where 1.4 million people live in rural communities.
“Highway crashes continue to take a toll on our state and our nation, and unfortunately, it is our rural communities being hit the hardest by these tragedies,” said INDOT Commissioner Karl B. Browning. “INDOT is taking important steps to make our rural roads safer, but we need Hoosier drivers to commit to slowing down and paying attention on rural roads to achieve the level of rural road safety we desire.”
More fatalities occur on rural roads than on any type of other road for several reasons. Because there is often little or no shoulder on rural roads, drivers run off the road more frequently. When drivers leave the roadway, overturning or striking a fixed object – such as a tree or post – is a greater risk. Travel speeds also tend to be higher on rural roads, which can lead to crashes and make crashes that occur more severe.
Practicing safe driving behaviors on rural roads is necessary for the safety of rural motorists and their passengers. By slowing down, reducing driver distractions and avoiding drowsy driving, motorists can greatly reduce their risk of being involved in a rural road crash. Drivers should always remember to buckle up and never drink and drive; critical safety measures that are especially important on rural roads.
INDOT is committed to improving safety on Indiana’s rural roads, and is developing strategies and improving crash data to better identify higher-risk segments and intersections on both state and local rural roads. Engineers can then evaluate the identified locations for high-impact, low-cost safety measures such as improving signage and pavement markings; adding lighting, guardrail or rumble strips; and tree removal and brush clearing to improve sight distance. Research has shown low-cost safety measures such as these are highly effective in reducing rural road injuries and fatalities. The highest-risk road projects would be eligible for federal funding under the Highway Safety Improvement Program.
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