Toolkit: Roadway Design, Signage and Road Improvements

Nearly 40,000 people are killed in highway crashes each year in the U.S., and nearly 2.5 million are injured. Highway crashes are the leading cause of death of people 3 through 6 and 8 through34 years of age and are the cause of more permanent impairments than any other type of accident.

Studies show that increased investment in road and bridge improvements at the local level save lives. Making road lanes and shoulders wider, adding medians and improving bridges are just a few of the improvements that have been shown to cut fatalities significantly. Highway safety information on this fact sheet is based on data obtained by The Road Information Program from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Data are the latest available.

  • Every $100 million invested in highway safety improvements will result in approximately 145 fewer traffic fatalities over a 10-year period.
  • Approximately 500 people are killed annually in crashes at rail-highway crossings.
  • About 12,000 people are killed annually in traffic crashes involving collisions with a fixed object such as a tree, guardrail, utility pole, curb, or light or support pole.
  • Listed are key local road and bridge improvements evaluated over a 20-year period by FHWA and the related reduction in fatality rates.

Improvements at Intersections

Reduction in Fatality Rate

turning lanes and traffic channelization

47 percent

sight distance improvements

56 percent

new traffic signals

53 percent

Bridge Improvements

Reduction in Fatality Rate

widening a bridge

49 percent

new bridge

86 percent

upgrade bridge rail

75 percent

Roadway Improvements

Reduction in Fatality Rate

construct median for traffic separation

73 percent

widen or improve shoulder

22 percent

realign roadway

66 percent

groove pavement for skid treatment

33 percent

Roadside Improvements

Reduction in Fatality Rate

upgrade median barrier

66 percent

new median barrier

63 percent

This fact sheet is from The Road Information Program (TRIP).

Updated August 21, 2009