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On the Road to Zero, We Cannot Ignore Rural

TRB 2017 Submission


The National Center for Rural Road Safety (Safety Center), a center of excellence supported by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, hosted the first National Working Summit on Transportation in Rural America (Summit) in September 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Summit’s working theme was ‘3 days, 10 discussion topics, 1 white paper’ with the goal of defining a clear roadmap of how best to make rural roads safer in the future. 

The approach was to use an innovative discussion format to expand the dialogue around rural transportation beyond the typical participants. The 115 participants first worked in peer groups to identify key issues and gaps for a particular interest area (such as “commerce and freight” or “emergency response”); these were called “silo sessions.” Later, they participated in integrated multi-disciplinary group discussions to formulate concepts and priorities from a multi-discipline perspective on broader topics such as livability and Towards Zero Deaths initiatives (called “cross-group” sessions). 

The purpose of this paper is to summarize the activities and outcomes of the summit, with an emphasis on common themes and action items identified as priorities for the improvement of rural transportation. The main recurring theme expressed by multiple speakers and across numerous sessions: “On the Road to Zero, We Cannot Ignore Rural”.