Covid-19 Impacts on Speed and Safety for Rural Roads and Work Zones

Project Details
STATUS

In-Progress

START DATE

12/30/20

END DATE

07/31/21

FOCUS AREAS

Safety

RESEARCH CENTERS InTrans, CTRE
SPONSORS

Minnesota Department of Transportation

Researchers
Principal Investigator
Shauna Hallmark

Director, InTrans

Co-Principal Investigator
Neal Hawkins

Associate Director, InTrans

About the research

Over the last decade, Minnesota has made impressive, targeted efforts to reduce traffic fatalities through its multi-agency Toward Zero Deaths initiative. These efforts are showing that traffic crashes are preventable with the right traffic safety strategies and these efforts are helping to reduce the statewide traffic fatalities to less than 400 annually.

Unfortunately, reduced volumes resulting from COVID-19, along with the strain on enforcement, appears to be producing higher speeds and more aggressive driving. Several of the MnDOT data driven safety priorities, noted below, may be impacted by these new conditions.

  • Lane Departure: Sixty-five percent of the fatal and serious injury lane departure crashes from 2008 to 2012 occurred in rural areas.
  • Inattentive Drivers: Drivers who are not focusing on the task of driving because of distractions, such as talking on the phone, texting, or drowsiness.
  • Speed: Drivers who are driving aggressively, over the posted speed limit or too fast for conditions.

The probability of death or serious injury grows with higher speed at impact. Speeding is a notable challenge on both state and local roadways, as well as in both rural and urban areas. Understanding the magnitude of speeding and other driver behaviors requires measurement and contrast. This effort focuses on roadways within rural areas, which typically have the highest fatality and injury rates. We will also examine work zones where the combination of speed and inattention can yield disastrous results not only for the driver and occupants but also agency and construction workers.

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