"Safe” is the first word in the title of new Federal Transportation Legislation (“Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users” or SAFETEA-LU). This bill makes safety one of eight factors that Metropolitan Planning Organizations such as NJTPA must take into account, continuing an emphasis on safety at national and regional levels. To encourage greater consideration of safety, the U.S. Department of Transportation has promoted the concept of Safety Conscious Planning (see sidebar) among state and metropolitan transportation agencies.
In the past several years, NJTPA has increased its efforts in the area of transportation safety and endeavored to serve as a leader in Safety Conscious Planning. The following are emphasis areas of NJTPA safety activities:
Promoting Safety Conscious Planning - NJTPA is a member of the New Jersey Safety Conscious Planning Steering Committee and has initiated a series of subregional forums in conjunction with Rutgers in order to foster connections among local stakeholders (planners, engineers, law enforcement personnel) and encourage them to work together with the state and NJTPA to improve safety.
Integration of Safety into Regional Planning - Making travel safer is one of eight NJTPA Regional Capital Investment Principles, and it is proposed that there be a proportional increase in spending in direct safety improvements from 2.0% to 2.5%. To accomplish this, individual safety projects are being pursued and safety considered as a criteria in project prioritization.
Regional Safety Priorities Studies
The North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) incorporates safety conscious planning into all aspects of the metropolitan planning process for northern and central New Jersey. To achieve these objectives, the NJTPA conducts studies and administers grant programs that identify safety problems on the transportation network and provides resources to address these deficiencies. In August 2011, the NJTPA completed a study of Pedestrian Safety at Bus Stops. Previously, the NJTPA completed Regional Safety Priorities Study in 2008 consisting of two efforts, “Development of Regional Safety Priorities” (2005) and the “Regional Safety Priorities Update” (2008). They were designed to identify deficiencies and recommend strategies that can improve safety on the region’s transportation system, and which underpin NJTPA’s Regional Transportation Plan’s goals and objectives for safety planning.
Local Safety Program – NJTPA also brings money to safety, in the form of federal funds dedicated to quick-fix, high-impact solutions on county and local roads.
Safety Conscious Planning is
. . . a proactive approach to prevent crashes and unsafe travel conditions
- Integrates safety considerations into the transportation planning processes at all levels of government
- Includes short range (Transportation Improvement Program) and long range planning (e.g. Regional Transportation Plan)
- Coordination between stakeholders is essential