Community Traffic Safety Teams (CTSTs) are synonymous with Safe Communities. These classic programs launched in the mid-1990s. They play a critical role in traffic safety, connecting local communities, identifying priority problems, and implementing countermeasures. The Northeast FDOT District Two Florida’s Community Traffic Safety Program (CTSP) is committed to safety and Target Zero. Florida’s traffic crashes, injuries, and fatalities are at critical levels. Our CTSTs work together to improve traffic safety and help curb dangerous driving behaviors. We bring highway safety, public health, law enforcement, and business leaders across our 18 counties. Teams address local traffic safety concerns and the ongoing roadway safety crisis.
What is a Safe Community?
Safe Communities is a model used by communities nationwide to identify and address local injury problems. Safe Communities allow citizens to predict when and where injuries are most likely to strike. And take the best course of action to keep them from happening at all. This article speaks specifically to those injuries caused by traffic crashes. However, the model can be used to address any local injury problem. Four essential characteristics define Safe Communities:
- Use of multiple sources of data to identify community injury problems;
- Citizen involvement;
- Expanded partnerships; and
- A comprehensive and integrated injury control system.
The mission of the FDOT District 2 Community Traffic Safety Program is to reduce traffic-related fatalities and injuries. We do this within our communities by solving local problems with state assistance. We strive for Florida’s goal of Target Zero, following the Safe System Approach while incorporating the fundamentals of Safe Communities.
Historical Safe Communities Documents
An Approach to Reduce Traffic Injuries
In 1995, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) distributed a summary, “Putting It Together: A Model for Integrating Injury Control System Elements,” describing how prevention, acute care, and rehabilitation need to work together to make progress in reducing injuries. This injury control approach has application to traffic safety. A Safe Communities approach is one way to get the injury control system components to work together to reduce injuries. (Content from NHTSA)
Motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of all injury deaths. Motor vehicle-related injuries are the principal cause of on-the-job fatalities. Additionally, it’s the third largest cause of all deaths in the United States. Only heart attacks and cancer kill more people. However, far more people are injured and survive motor vehicle crashes than die in these crashes. Most of these injuries and deaths are not acts of fate but are predictable and preventable. Injury patterns, including traffic-related injury patterns, vary by age, gender, and cultural group. There are also seasonal and geographic patterns to injury. Once the cause of injuries is identified, interventions can be designed to address the cause. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities.
Community-Based Approaches: Illustrations from Traffic Safety
Community Traffic Safety Programs were an outgrowth of the successful occupant protection and anti-drunk driving programs of the 1970s and 1980s. Historically, CTSPs combined two or more traffic safety countermeasures or interventions to address such local problems. Issues like impaired driving and infrequent use of child safety seats and safety belts. Over time, in various combinations that were appropriate to a specific community, citizen advocacy groups, law enforcement, business, public health agencies, education, the courts, and the media combined efforts by forming coalitions with elected officials and other community leaders to develop solutions to local traffic safety problems.
National Community Traffic Safety Program History
The CTSP is a national initiative established by the NHTSA and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) partnership. The program was launched in 1993 to address and prevent traffic fatalities and injuries in local communities. The CTSP built upon the strengths and resources of the two agencies’ efforts by expanding the role of engineering. Furthermore, it brings new partners like the Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Officials, and highway safety educators. The goal is to promote cooperation and trust and develop cost-effective activities, including new skills, technologies, and ideas to focus on crash-related problems. (NHTSA Corridor/Community Traffic Safety Programs Student Manual, Transportation Safety Institute 1994)
Florida Program History
“The 1991 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act mandated a state safety management system (SMS). The SMS integrated vehicles, drivers, and roadway elements into a comprehensive approach to solving highway safety problems. The focus of the SMS was to ensure that safety became an integral part of highway planning, design, construction, maintenance, and operation of all public roads. The FDOT used the CTSP and local Teams to address the SMS requirements.” (Safety Sentinel, March 1998)
The agency decided that the best way to address safety on all public roads was a multi-disciplinary approach, with the intent to expand the CTST concept throughout the state. This would address safety problems on non-state roads. Additionally, it would provide forums for the various disciplines at the state and local levels.
District Two CTSTs
One of the most crucial functions of a CTST is identifying and reporting problems on our local roadways. Through our monthly work addressing local roadway concerns, we bring together the 4E’s of safety: Engineering, Education, Emergency Medical Services, and Enforcement. Team members are the “eyes” of our roadways.
We know from FHWA that local agencies own approximately 75 percent of rural roads. Unfortunately, while local roads are less traveled than State highways, they have a much higher rate of serious crashes. By bringing the many community partners together to address identified issues in a community, FDOT has a connection to issues and data on local roads. Examples of some of the concerns addressed each month include requests for studies and maintenance support. Areas include school crossings, roadway hazards, road surface conditions, access problems, pedestrian and bicycle issues, micro-mobility issues, signage, pavement markings, signals, and areas that may need an increased law enforcement presence.
Since 1994, the FDOT District Two CTSP has effectively identified local crash problems and provided solutions.