InTrans / Feb 02, 2018

Iowa DOT, InTrans facilitate collaborative road safety discussions

The Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) at Iowa State University’s Institute for Transportation (InTrans) understands that creating a collaborative environment at workshops and other events can be a meaningful way to come up with solutions to complicated transportation and safety issues.

Bringing together transportation and road safety professionals, including engineers, law enforcement, and planners, creates a unique discussion, says David Veneziano, LTAP Safety Circuit Rider.

“You get people talking and they’re outside their silos. You get engineers talking to law enforcement. We get everybody in the room together and during the presentations and breaks there’s discussion and you get a cross-pollination of ideas,” Veneziano said, adding that side discussion has been a catalyst for getting important safety information out to the public.

For example, a discussion based around the dangers of uncontrolled intersections ultimately led the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT), the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau (GTSB), and Iowa’s county engineers to put out an informative safety pamphlet about uncontrolled intersections in Iowa. The pamphlet is now handed out at driver’s license stations and through other avenues as part of Iowa’s “Zero Fatalities” campaign.

“That’s the kind of information—the kind of thing that springs up—as a result of these workshops,” Veneziano said.

These events and workshops held by LTAP ultimately aim to improve safety, education, and engineering at a local level. Some workshops that aim to strengthen and expand local safety programs may provide resources of information to participants, like links to safety funding programs or important contacts at the DOT or GTSB.

One such workshop is the Local Road Safety Workshops, organized by LTAP and held annually throughout Iowa. The workshops are organized and intended to reach city or county employees directly, by bringing the discussion to convenient locations throughout the state like in Cedar Rapids or Ottumwa, so professionals can be a part of the discussion without traveling far to do so, Veneziano said.

Local Road Safety Workshops cover presentation and discussion topics that originate from issues in law enforcement and engineering, or other transportation and safety-related subjects across the board. Topics in the past have been low cost treatments, incident management, and distracted driving. Many topics are based on feedback and evaluations from previous years.

“They learn from the discussion, and we learn from their perspective,” Veneziano said.

Events to improve safety efforts in the state are held throughout the year by LTAP and other groups within InTrans. Other planning and presentations for the workshop are provided by the Iowa DOT Systems Planning and Local Systems offices, the Iowa Division of the FHWA, GTSB, and LTAP.