Mizzou Engineer leads synthesis to study safety roadway countermeasures

March 11, 2024

Roadway showing safety countermeasures
Safety countermeasures include intersections, roadway departure measures, speed management and other strategies proven to keep motorists safe.

A Mizzou Engineer is leading a project to help determine what measures state departments of transportation (DOTs) are using to help keep motorists safe.

Henry Brown
Henry Brown

Henry Brown, a research engineer in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is Principal Investigator on the synthesis, which is under the umbrella of the National Cooperative Highway Research Project (NCHRP). Findings are expected to be published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine next year.

“The Federal Highway Administration has a list of 28 countermeasures that have been proven to improve safety,” Brown said. “These include measures around speed management, intersections, pedestrian devices, roadway departure measures and lighting. This synthesis is looking at how state DOTs have implemented these countermeasures.”

The project will also help determine whether further research is needed to help states adopt these strategies, he said.

As part of the synthesis, Brown has conducted a literature review, is surveying every state DOT and will conduct interviews to get more in-depth information about select projects. While the reports aren’t meant to provide guidance, they provide an overview of state practices on a given topic.

“We’re looking at how safety measures have been implemented and whether there have been any challenges to implementing them,” Brown said. “The goal is to give states a way to see what other states are doing and identify any research gaps or gaps in knowledge that should be addressed in future projects.”

This is the seventh federal synthesis Brown has led. Three previous reviews have been published and two are currently in review. He is also actively overseeing another report to determine how DOTs use computer modeling to simulate traffic and make decisions.

“The benefit of these projects is that states can find out what other states are doing and see current practices,” Brown said. “The reports help streamline existing, but fragmented, information, which helps administrators and engineers better grasp the state of the practice and make more data-driven decisions.”

Brown has also served on research teams for NCHRP projects and on NCHRP panels. He is a member of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Standing Committee on Performance Effects of Geometric Design and on the TRB Standing Committee on Transportation Planning Policy and Processes.

His contributions were recently recognized in the 2023 NCHRP Annual Report, published in partnership with the National Academies and TRB.