National clearinghouse established to improve rural road safety

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The Department of Transportation announced Monday, June 30, that the University of Minnesota will be home to a new national clearinghouse for information about the best way to make rural roads safer. The clearinghouse is part of Transportation Secretary Mary Peters’ national strategy to bring new focus, including resources and new technology, to reducing deaths on the nation’s rural roads, DOT says.

“The only way we will cut the number of deaths and injuries on the nation’s roads is by finding a way to get officials the right information at the right time,” says Transportation Deputy Secretary Thomas Barrett. “The University of Minnesota is going to do just that – and as a result, it is going to make our roads safer.”

Built by the University’s Center for Excellence in Rural Safety, the online clearinghouse will distribute the lessons that are being learned by researchers to transportation officials and first responders nationwide; it also will collect and distribute lessons that are being learned by transportation officials that are successfully combating rural road fatalities. “It’s not every day that researchers and administrators get to save a life simply by talking about their work,” Barrett says. “Hundreds of drivers will one day soon owe their lives to the faculty and staff of this great institution.”

DOT says its Rural Safety Initiative will help states and communities develop ways to eliminate the risks drivers face on America’s rural roads and highlight available solutions and resources. The new endeavor addresses five key goals: safer drivers, better roads, smarter roads, better-trained emergency responders, and improved outreach and partnerships. About $287 million in existing and new funding is available to support the effort. For more information, go to www.dot.gov/affairs/ruralsafety.