In the past, public agencies addressed transportation safety issues based almost solely upon where crashes had already occurred. Especially focusing on severe or fatal crash locations, even if the overall crash frequency was very low. That mindset led to a constant process of “chasing dots,” meaning addressing those location on a map where “dots” (serious or fatal crash instances) were plotted. Consequently, valuable transportation safety dollars were focused on reactionary decisions, rather than systemic engineering processes that identified the segments of roadway most susceptible to severe crashes.
With the advent of quantifiable safety study tools such as the AASHTO Highway Safety Manual, engineers and decision makers are able to use sound analysis to optimize funds to address the maximum amount of locations. This allows the focus to be on implementing safety improvements BEFORE crashes occur. Predictive and systemic safety improvements resulting from these analyses have proven effective in stretching agency resources to the greatest extent possible. Leading to the best possible safety strategies for the protection of the travelling public.