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Placer County Awarded $30,000 Grant by State Office of Traffic Safety

January 04, 2012

The Placer County Public Works Department has been awarded a $30,000 state grant to improve its high-tech tools for analyzing traffic safety on county roads.

The grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety will allow Public Works to develop computer software that will identify segments of rural roads with high concentrations of traffic collisions more precisely than is possible now.

The issue is a high priority, because approximately 50 percent of the 3,152 collisions on county-maintained roads from 2007-09 occurred along stretches of roadway away from intersections. During that period, 82 percent of collisions with fatalities and 64 percent that involved severe injuries took place on roadway segments outside of intersections.

The county maintains more than 1,000 miles of roads, including many rural roadways with long distances between intersections.

“The grant will allow us to develop a collision-analysis program tailored to the needs of Placer County,” said Stephanie Holloway, Associate Civil Engineer with Public Works. “It will help us pinpoint more accurately where collisions occur historically and what can be done to prevent them. The information we gain will be very useful to Placer County and other agencies such as the California Highway Patrol, and will pay big dividends in helping keep the public safe on local roadways.”

Since 2009, Public Works has used a computer-based Traffic Accident Analysis Program to review county-maintained roadways and intersections and identify stretches with high concentrations of traffic collisions. The program stores, analyzes and reports traffic-collision data similar to the reporting system used by the California Department of Transportation.

The grant funds will allow the county to address a key problem with the current program: the software analyzes the number of collisions on roadway segments, lengths of road between intersections, to draw comparisons, regardless of how long each segment is. Thus, two segments are treated identically by the software if they have the same number of collisions even if one segment is significantly longer than the other.

That problem is particularly pronounced on rural areas, where distances between intersections vary substantially.

With the grant funding, Public Works will work with Fehr and Peers Transportation Consultants to scan the county’s entire road network and develop a customized spreadsheet that will allow the county to compare equal-length sections of roadway and plot them in GIS so they can be analyzed easily.