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Roadway Departure Safety

Roadway departure crashes account for approximately 60 percent of all fatalities on Oregon roadways each year.

In coordination with the Federal Highway Administration, the Oregon Department of Transportation developed a plan aimed at reducing roadway departures in 2010. Through analysis of crash data, ODOT identified:

  • Locations with higher than expected crash rates to focus its efforts and begin implementation.
  • Specific countermeasures to address each site individually.

After the implementation of this initial effort, we have continued to evaluate Oregon highways for opportunities to integrate additional safety countermeasures to lessen fatal and serious injury crashes statewide.

Roadside Barriers

Roadside safety includes multiple areas of concern; among those are roadside barriers. Oregon has more than 2,500 miles of roadside barriers in place.

Some of the systems used are out of date; those which are non-compliant or substandard will be tagged for replacement or upgrade.


ODOT uses the following methods to increase safe travel on Oregon highways. Each method is intended to address specific safety concerns and is a low cost way for ODOT to systematically support its goal of reducing fatal and serious injury accidents.

​Oregon has long recognized the connection between effective curve signing and reductions in roadway departure crashes.

The federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, 2009 edition, established new national standards for use of curve warning signs. ODOT began implementing sign revisions in 2016 to meet this requirement.


​Rumble strips are produce an auditory and physical notification to a driver when the vehicle veers from the travel lane.

  • Shoulder rumble strips are used to reduce run-off-road crashes.
  • Centerline rumble strips are used to reduce head-on and side-swipe crashes.


​On many isolated and rural locations, stop signs are used to control traffic through major intersections. In these instances ODOT uses countermeasures such as:

  • Installing intersection approach warning signs and street name plaques
  • Hanging stop beacon lights above the intersection
  • Installing short-splitter islands to separate travel lanes


​While some signal upgrades are costly, several countermeasures are low cost and effective.

  • Using reflectorized back-plates
  • Adding signal heads for each lane on a multi-lane road
  • Changing signal light phasing


​Due to the seriousness of injuries often sustained during pedestrian-vehicle collisions, safety countermeasures designed for pedestrian traffic are of particular significance.

Such safety measures are two-fold: providing space for people to walk and providing notification to vehicular traffic of pedestrian crossings.
  • Installation of active pedestrian warning devices
  • Installing curb extensions or median islands


​As the volume of bicycle traffic increases, conflicts between motor vehicles and cyclists also increases. Some of the possible countermeasures available may require approval from FHWA.


​Employing road diets generate benefits for all modes of transportation, not just pedestrian and bicycle traffic. In a traditional 4-to-3 road diet will: 

  • Provide space for left turning vehicles to exit the travel lane, thereby reducing the number of crashes caused by stopped vehicles waiting for a vehicle to turn left from a lane of travel.
  • Reduces the number of lanes a vehicle turning left must cross.
  • Provide dedicated space for bicycle traffic.


Oregon Roadway Departure Safety Implementation Plan

In coordination with the Federal Highway Administration, ODOT updated its plan aimed at reducing roadway departures.

Contact the Traffic Engineering Unit

4040 Fairview Industrial Drive, MS 5
Salem, Oregon 97302
Fax: 503-986-4063

Program Contacts

State Traffic Safety Engineer
Traffic Safety Engineer