Critical Data Requirements for Highway Safety Planning

Highway safety planning is core to the overall mission of any state’s Department of Transportation (DOT). Reducing fatal and serious crashes is central to this mission. With the expanding definition of safety data, there are a multitude of sources that are becoming central to the safety planning process. No longer is safety data relegated to just crashes that have occurred on the highway system. In this post, I’ll look at Model of Inventory of Roadway Elements (MIRE) and analyze its effect on the highway safety planning process.

MIRE is a proposed guideline for transportation agencies to improve the overall quality of their safety planning process. MIRE is a data dictionary of roadway and traffic elements that are essential to safety management. The initial release of MIRE occurred in 2007. Since its release, the listing has grown to over 200 data elements. Even though MIRE is a considerable list of traffic and inventory elements, it still does not include all the data required for enterprise-wide operational and roadway design processes. The primary elements are geared toward safety planning and tools. If you’re interested in viewing the entire specification, here’s a good start.

MIRE provides several benefits to transportation agencies. A key aspect of MIRE is that it should be linked to a DOT’s underlying linear referencing system (LRS). This leverages the single source of truth and keeps the MIRE elements consistent with the enterprise locational standards established by the LRS. In turn, this should lead to better collaboration across departments in the DOT and other external agencies requiring inventory elements.

Another benefit of MIRE is that it provides specific inventory and traffic information that can be integrated with crash data to strengthen analysis efforts. This integrated database does several things. It helps states in developing the relationship of safety (crash occurrence and severity) to highway elements, allows effective evaluation of safety treatments applied to at risk sections of the highway, and supports better identification of crash location and characteristics. Additionally, MIRE allows more compelling determination of the correct countermeasures. Another benefit is that MIRE is designed to work with automated safety tools such as the Highway Safety Manual (HSM) and AASHTO’s Safety Analyst. The data structure lends itself to high volume number crunching that automated tools provide. Finally, MIRE enhances a states ability to make better decisions on funding through improved project selection and priority setting. This is essential for each state to formulate Highway Safety Improvement Programs (HSIP) and Strategic Highway Safety Plans (SHSP).

MIRE is changing the way safety planners are making decisions by providing a robust supporting data set to augment existing crash databases. It allows safety planners to see the world more clearly, helping DOTs and safety leaders define and create proactive strategies that mitigate highway safety concerns. The end result is safer highways for the traveling public.

To learn more, stop by the technology hall at the upcoming AASHTO GIS for Transportation Symposium in Little Rock, Arkansas. You can find Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure in booths 29 – 31.

About Bruce Aquila

Bruce Aquila is a senior transportation consultant for Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure and has been with the company for 33 years. He currently works in the Transportation Business Development group where he is responsible for technical business development, consulting, industry conference presentations and product requirement collection. Aquila works exclusively with State DOTs, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, local governments, and transit agencies in the areas of linear referencing, network and data modelling, and surface transportation analysis applications.

Categories: Transportation