Researchers at the University of New Orleans Transportation Institute will help the city of New Orleans to create a map of the area’s most accident-prone streets to prioritize safety improvements along those traffic corridors.
UNOTI, in partnership with the city, the Regional Transit Authority and Toole Design Group, has received a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Safety Data Initiative for the work.
The Safety Data Initiative helps communities develop policies to reduce roadway fatalities and advances USDOT’s efforts to develop, refine and deploy safety tools that address specific roadway hazards.
The partners will develop analytic research tools using existing data to create what planners call a “high injury” network that would be used to prioritize safety improvements in a more proactive way.
“The UNO Transportation Institute has long supported local and statewide efforts to improve transportation safety through data collection, research and analysis, with a particular focus on vulnerable road users,” said UNOTI director Bethany Stich. “We’re thrilled to collaborate with the City, RTA and the research team to take these efforts to the next level by developing analytic tools that can be applied locally and nationally in support of safer streets for all.”
The project involves using available data sources including road network data, crash data and U.S. Census datasets to create a model that identifies corridors in a given jurisdiction with the highest predicted number of serious pedestrian or bicycle crashes, said UNO Transportation Institute researcher Tara Tolford.
“With this tool, we hope to be better able to recommend high-impact interventions that prevent crashes and their associated human and economic costs,” Tolford said. “It is also intended to be easy enough to use that even smaller jurisdictions that don’t have dedicated data experts on staff or research institutes to call on can use it to evaluate their own road networks and make smarter safety decisions.”
Tolford will also serve as an adviser to provide technical reviews of the model and safety tools as they are developed. In addition, UNOTI will develop training materials and webinar content to help transfer and apply the tool developed to other jurisdictions in Louisiana and beyond, Tolford said.
City officials say the project will complement efforts underway by New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s Office of Transportation and the Regional Planning Commission to develop a Local Road Safety Plan.
“This is an exciting opportunity for New Orleans to improve the safety of our roadways for our residents while also being a national leader in utilizing data-driven approaches to safety,” said Cantrell. “Traffic safety is one of the core goals of my administration’s Moving New Orleans Transportation Action Plan, and this grant helps deliver on that goal through data-driven safety investments.”