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Comparing crash trends and severity in the northern Rocky Mountain region.
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  • Abstract:
    Safety Management Systems are federally mandated in an effort to encourage states to develop strategic programs in order to

    mitigate severe crashes. In 2006, the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) published the Wyoming Strategic Highway Safety

    Plan (SHSP). The plan outlines goals for the state and transportation areas of strategic emphasis. While the SHSP has proven successful

    in lowering crash rates, Wyoming is constantly plagued by one of the highest fatal crash rates in the region. In the northern Rocky Mountain

    region, North Dakota historically boasts the lowest fatal crash rates, while Colorado has the highest. Other states in the region are

    Wyoming, Montana, Utah, South Dakota, and Idaho. In an effort towards continued safety improvement, WYDOT is investigating whether

    there is a link between certain factors in North Dakota and the low number of fatal crashes experienced there. The basis of this research

    centers on evaluating key differences between North Dakota and Wyoming to determine if there are policies, practices, and or physical

    differences that keep North Dakota’s fatal crash rate lower. This research investigates patrol enforcement differences, traffic safety laws,

    crash records, mileage records, vehicle records, and economic factors as possible sources of crash rate differences. When some critical

    factors were identified, Logistic Regression Modeling was applied to two Wyoming interstates to identify safety concerns for implementation

    within Wyoming’s transportation SHSP. It was found that on Interstates 80 and 25 in Wyoming, sobriety, motorcycle usage, and speed

    were some of the largest factors in increasing the probability of a critical crash. From comparing crash trends between the two states, it

    was found that interstates are an area where fatal crashes happen more often in Wyoming. Wyoming also has more fatal crashes on

    weekends and in the summer months than North Dakota. It was found that both states are behind in the adoption of nationally

    recommended laws and that Wyoming enforcement needs more resources to effectively patrol and maintain safety on highways such as

    interstate 80. Finally, it was determined that in those counties where mining and construction industries have high levels of employment,

    crashes were more frequent and care should be taken to educate those communities on the benefits of safe driving.

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