About the research
Responsibility for the Iowa roadway network is divided between state and local agencies, both rural and urban. In some states, the number of miles of local roads and streets far exceeds the miles of roads under state control. In Iowa for example, approximately 90% of the 110,000 mile network of roads is owned and maintained by local agencies, cities, and counties. The traffic volumes expressed through annual daily traffic numbers are generally less on local roads than state-owned roads. Despite the difference in traffic volume, a comparable potential for traffic crashes exists on rural and urban roads. Consequently, it is not uncommon that one-half or more of all serious crashes, those resulting in fatalities and major injuries occur on local roads and streets.
Despite near parity in crash potential on rural and urban roads, local agencies do not have access to funding levels that are available to state departments of transportation (DOTs) for safety investments. The current federal highway funding legislation SAFETEA-LU does include a program designated for rural roads, the High Risk Rural Roads Program, (HRRR), but in many states this funding has not been applied to local roadways.
In recognition of the need for more emphasis on roadway safety at the local level, several state DOTs have initiated programs to assist local agencies in identifying and addressing safety needs on rural roads and urban streets. This document will summarize information provided by several states in supporting safety initiatives at the local level.