DelDOT Receives National Award for Increased Transportation Safety by Converting Intersections to All-Way Stops

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Several Intersections in Delaware have been safer for drivers thanks to improvements in recent years. The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) was honored today with a 2023 National Roadway Safety Award for significantly reducing fatal and serious injury crashes at 20 intersections by converting them to all-way stops. Between 2015 and 2019, nearly 40 percent of Delaware’s traffic fatalities and serious injuries occurred at intersections. Of those, about half occurred at unsignalized intersections. Between 2017 and 2020, DelDOT converted 20 low-volume intersections statewide, mostly in rural and suburban areas, from two-way to all-way stops. In the two years after the change (2021 and 2022), the number of crashes at those intersections fell by 71 percent overall. Fatal crashes dropped by 75 percent, while crashes with injuries plummeted by 90 percent.

Additional Information from DelDOT:

Peter Haag, DelDOT’s Chief of Traffic Engineering, said the results have provided DelDOT with a creative approach to address safety concerns. Now, DelDOT engineers can consider the usage of all-way stops similar to traditional preliminary steps, such as installing larger stop signs.

“We’re looking at things in a different way,” Haag said. “Safety is at the forefront. We can go directly to an application that we’re seeing success with.”

Haag said the improvements are relatively inexpensive, a few thousand dollars per intersection, and are quick to install, usually within a day. He said DelDOT has converted 25 additional intersections to all-way stops since the initial 20 and plans to do approximately 25 or so by the end of 2024.

The 10 National Roadway Safety Award winners and two honorable mentions are using proactive, data-driven, collaborative and cost-effective approaches to better protect pedestrians, cyclists and motorists across the country. Much of their work began amid a nationwide spike in vehicular crashes during the pandemic, when U.S. roadway fatalities rose 7.3 percent in 2020 and a further 10.1 percent in 2021 before holding steady at a high level in 2022 (-0.3 percent). 

Early estimates for the first half of 2023 show crash fatalities declined slightly but remain at levels not seen since the mid-2000s. Between January and June, fatalities nationwide declined by an estimated 3.3 percent, compared with the first six months of 2022, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

First-half 2023 fatalities in Delaware increased modestly: An estimated 77 people died on Delaware roads, up 2.4 percent from the same time frame last year, according to NHTSA’s preliminary data.

The continued high fatality numbers demonstrate the value of safety innovations like Delaware’s additional all-way stops and the 11 other projects from across the nation.

The National Roadway Safety Awards, presented biannually since 1999, are sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration and the nonprofit Roadway Safety Foundation. Projects were evaluated on safety effectiveness, innovation and efficient use of resources.

“The problem-solving creativity and dedication shown by the Delaware Department of Transportation will save countless lives — using a data driven approach and practices that are proven to reduce crashes,” said Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt. “It demonstrates a strong commitment to moving Delaware toward zero deaths and serious injuries on the state’s roadways, and we are proud to applaud their efforts.”

“The stubbornly elevated fatality numbers underscore the urgent need for innovations like the National Roadway Safety Award honorees’ projects,” said Roadway Safety Foundation Executive Director Bruce Hamilton. “With several initiatives already showing major reductions in fatalities, injuries and crashes, today’s honorees are shining a bright light on the path to safer travel.”

Other honorees are: 

  • North Carolina: NCDOT for reducing severe crashes at rural intersections by adding more all-way stops
  • Illinois: Illinois Tollway for creating an app that shows livestream video of serious crashes to speed up incident response 
  • Florida: FDOT for demonstrating how skid-resistant pavement can shorten stopping distances at high-speed intersections
  • Louisiana: Acadiana Planning Commission for reducing severe crashes at rural “T” intersections using larger signs and rumble strips to alert distracted drivers
  • Texas: TxDOT for reducing pedestrian fatalities on an Austin highway, particularly among people experiencing homelessness
  • New Jersey: South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization for developing a plan to prioritize cyclist and pedestrian safety in rural Cumberland County
  • New Jersey/New York: The Port Authority of NY & NJ for reducing crashes by using timely data analysis to proactively identify and address safety problems
  • Minnesota: MnDOT for its widespread use of “J-turn” intersections on high-speed divided highways to reduce the severity of crashes
  • California: Caltrans for implementing pedestrian protections, signs to prevent wrong-way driving and other cost-effective safety measures more quickly
  • Virginia: VDOT (Honorable Mention) for funding lower-cost safety projects in a more systemic way aimed at preventing traffic fatalities and serious injuries
  • Nevada: NDOT (Honorable Mention) for its first comprehensive plan to reduce speeding, a leading cause of fatal and severe crashes

Winners were selected by an expert panel of judges:

  • Lori Diaz, The American Traffic Safety Services Foundation
  • Jennifer Hall, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
  • Adam Kirk, Kentucky Transportation Center
  • Stephen Read, Virginia Department of Transportation
  • Brian Roberts, Transportation Research Board
  • Terecia Wilson, Clemson University

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