Evaluation of a Proposal to Set a Goal for the Virginia Strategic Highway Safety Plan of a Forty Percent Reduction in Traffic Fatalities and Injuries by 2010

Report No: 06-R34

Published in 2006

About the report:

The purpose of this study was to determine whether a 40% reduction in traffic fatalities and injuries by 2010 is a reasonable goal to include in Virginia's state-level strategic highway safety plan or whether such a goal is overly optimistic. To achieve the study objective, the scope of the study was limited to making the following determinations: 1. Forecast the total number of traffic fatalities and injuries in Virginia in 2010 assuming three scenarios: In Scenario 1, no state-level traffic safety plan or major traffic engineering safety improvements are implemented between now and 2010. In Scenario 2, only four traffic engineering improvements are made between now and 2010. In Scenario 3, a primary seat belt law along with the four engineering improvements from Scenario 2 are implemented. 2. Determine the probability that Virginia can achieve a 40% reduction in fatalities and injuries by 2010 under Scenarios 2 and 3. 3. Determine realistic goals for the reduction of traffic fatalities and injuries in Virginia in 2010. Based on the forecasts under the three scenarios, the 40% reduction goals are overly optimistic. Assuming a normal distribution of the forecasts, the probabilities of achieving 40% reduction goals for fatalities and injuries are very low or low. Under Scenario 2, if the four engineering treatments are implemented at the 50% level, the probabilities that Virginia would achieve 40% reductions in 2010 are 1.2% for fatalities and 0.012% for injuries. Under Scenario 3, assuming that the primary enforcement seat belt law was enacted and the four engineering treatments were implemented at the 50% level, the probabilities are 8.6% for fatalities and 0.05% for injuries. Accounting for a slight increase in fatalities and injuries in 2010 compared to 2004, realistic goals for Virginia are a 10% (maximum of 20%) reduction goal for fatalities and a 5% (maximum of 10%) reduction goal for injuries. These recommended goals assume that Virginia enacts a primary enforcement seat belt law and exercises enforcement efforts accordingly and deploys engineering crash countermeasures comparable to the 20% to 30% level of implementation of the four treatments used in this study, namely, (1) adding an exclusive left-turn lane to intersections, (2) modifying the signal change intervals, (3) installing centerline rumble strips, and (4) installing/upgrading guardrail.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


  • Young-Jun Kweon, Ph.D., P.E.

Last updated: November 27, 2023

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