Rail/Highway and Roadway Safety

Historically, Arkansas has had a relatively high rate of rail-highway grade crossing fatalities. Part of this is attributed to the high number of grade crossings, especially those in rural areas that are not signalized, and the vehicle miles of travel. Training needs to be provided to law enforcement officers on the causes of grade crossing crashes and ways to improve crash investigation and crossing safety.

There were 44 rail-highway grade crossing crashes recorded in 2009, 5 less than the previous year. The 5 year moving average shows a downward trend beginning 2007 through 2009.

There were reported 62,808, motor vehicle crashes in Arkansas in 2009. Elements within the roadway environment, including construction and maintenance work zone traffic control, have been identified as contributing factors in some of these crashes. There were 1,851 work zone crashes and 24 fatalities reported in 2009.

Of the 1,851 work zone crashes reported in 2009, 23 were on the Interstate System. There is a need to inform the public of construction activity on Arkansas roadways. The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department will provide motorists with information on construction activities and the Arkansas State Police and the Arkansas Highway Police will conduct traffic enforcement in construction work zone areas.

In many cases limited funds and lack of expertise in highway safety affect a local government’s ability to provide adequate traffic engineering services, crash analysis, safety training and safety related materials. The Section 402 Program assists these jurisdictions by providing funds for these services. Also technical support, staff time and travel are needed to ensure that the roadway safety program is adequately administered.