The Transportation Safety Division works with local governments and volunteers to promote safety in numerous ways. One of the most effective ways to make things happen is to bring together people from a wide range of interests and backgrounds, and ask them to employ their skills and knowledge to improve safety problems.
Over the years, this approach has blossomed into the forming of a number of different types of groups – each having a different scale and approach to the transportation safety problem.
The primary group types can be summarized as follows:
Safe Communities: This is a coalition of government and private sector staff with an interest in safety. The group takes a big picture approach to injury prevention, and combines the various parties interested in injury prevention into a single, effective group. These groups emphasize using data and analysis to guide collaborative efforts in the non-profit, business, health, and government sectors of the economy. In Oregon, Baker, Clackamas, Grant, Harney, Jackson, Malheur, Umatilla , Union Counties, plus the City of Portland take this approach to varying levels of effort. ODOT supports these groups with grants large and small, technical assistance, training, and data support.
Traffic Safety Committees: These groups focus their energies on improving the safety of the highway system in their community. Most often a chartered part of local government, Local Traffic Safety Committees are most often appointed, and formally assigned the task of overseeing issues that impact the safety of the driving public in Oregon’s communities by the local city council or county commission. They serve the critical role of sounding board, exploring transportation safety problems and opportunities much more deeply than the elected body can in a typical meeting. Members of these groups work with local and state staff to explore solutions to safety problems. Their meetings are typically open to the public, and are exciting places to be when working well. As one example, in Columbia County the group includes ODOT, County, and city public works staff, city, county and state law enforcement, local and state level elected officials, health officials, and school officials. This group often learns about a problem, gathers information, and is able to move ahead with decisions rapidly. For ODOT officials particularly, these groups can save a great deal of time – at a single meeting the problem can be framed, proposed solutions identified, and any barriers flagged, and often eliminated. ODOT supports these groups with small grants, staff attendance, information including data, training, and conferences or other gatherings.
Neighborhood Associations: It has been said that all traffic safety is local. What better way to solve transportation safety problems than at the most local of levels – the neighborhood association. In Oregon, many of these groups are incorporated 501c3 organizations able to receive grants, and most are recognized as an important part of the community. In some communities, they are actually a part of the government body. ODOT works with these groups by providing data, information and training to make them more effective at identifying and tackling community level transportation safety problems.