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TRIP REPORT: U.S. RURAL ROADS & BRIDGES HAVE SIGNIFICANT DEFICIENCIES & HIGH FATALITY RATES

ADDRESSING ANTICIPATED $50 BILLION DECREASE IN STATE TRANSPORTATION REVENUES DUE TO COVID-19 SEEN AS VITAL TO FUNDING NEEDED REPAIRS & MODERNIZATION TO IMPROVE RURAL CONDITIONS, SUPPORT ECONOMIC RECOVERY AND BOOST SAFETY 

America’s rural transportation system is in need of repairs and modernization to support economic growth and improve traffic safety in the nation’s Heartland, but the US faces a $211 billion backlog in funding for needed repairs and improvements to the rural transportation system. This is according to a new report released today by TRIP, a national transportation research nonprofit. The report, Rural Connections: Challenges and Opportunities in America’s Heartland, evaluates the safety and condition of the nation’s rural roads and bridges and finds that the nation’s rural transportation system is in need of immediate improvements to address deficient roads and bridges, high crash rates, and inadequate connectivity and capacity. 

The importance of the rural transportation system as the backbone of the nation’s energy, food and fiber supply chain has been heightened during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Addressing the nation’s rural transportation challenges will require a significant increase in investment, but the tremendous decrease in vehicle travel that has occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to reduce state transportation revenues by at least 30 percent – approximately $50 billion – over the next 18 months. 

The chart below ranks states based on their rate of rural pavements in poor condition, share of rural bridges that are rated poor/structurally deficient, and fatality rates on non-Interstate, rural roads. 

The report finds that the nation’s rural roads and bridges have significant deficiencies. Thirteen percent of U.S. rural roads are rated in poor condition, while 21 percent are in mediocre condition. Sixteen percent of the nation’s rural roads are in fair condition and the remaining 50 percent are in good condition. Eight percent of the nation’s rural bridges are rated in poor/structurally deficient condition, meaning there is significant deterioration to the major components of the bridge. Poor/structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including agricultural equipment, commercial trucks, school buses and emergency services vehicles. Forty-seven percent of rural bridges are rated fair. A fair rating indicates that a bridge’s structural elements are sound but minor deterioration has occurred to the bridge’s deck, substructure or superstructure. The remaining 45 percent of rural bridges are rated in good condition.

“This report reinforces what many rural Americans already know – our country’s rural infrastructure is crumbling. The competitiveness of our farmers and ranchers relies on an aging network of roads, bridges, waterways and railways that need an immediate infusion of investment dollars,” said Todd Van Hoose, president and CEO of the Farm Credit Council. “That’s why we have partnered with more than 250 national, state and local organizations through the Rebuild Rural Coalition. Previous funding opportunities have overlooked our rural infrastructure in the past. We must invest in the transportation network that drives the base of our economy. We must invest in all aspects of rural infrastructure. And we must do it before we lose our competitive advantage.”

“Farmers and ranchers depend on rural roads, highways, and bridges to move their products to market. So does the integrity of our food supply chain,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Unfortunately, due primarily to lack of investment over several decades, America’s infrastructure is in a dire state of rapid deterioration, and recent events show even more the importance of guaranteeing food arrives where it needs to be. Investment in rural infrastructure going forward is paramount to ensure farmers and ranchers can continue to reliably supply the safe and wholesome food Americans need into the future.”

The TRIP report finds that traffic crashes and fatalities on rural non-Interstate roads are disproportionately high, occurring at a rate more than double that on all other roads. In 2018, non-Interstate rural roads had a traffic fatality rate of two deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles of travel, compared to a fatality rate on all other roads of 0.88 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles of travel. Rural roads are more likely to have narrow lanes, limited shoulders, sharp curves, exposed hazards, pavement drop-offs, steep slopes and limited clear zones along roadsides.

“You cannot stock grocery stores, resupply medical facilities and rebuild our economy on the backs of broken roads and aging bridges,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America. “Without new federal funding, we will miss this unique opportunity, with traffic at record lows, to repair our rural roads, protect countless construction jobs and restart our stalled economy.”

 “TRIP’s report provides further evidence all Americans need safe and efficient transportation infrastructure facilities and also reveals we are falling further behind in addressing conditions on our rural roads,” American Road & Transportation Builders Association President Dave Bauer said. “It is time to stop talking and start delivering the long-term increase in federal highway and bridge investment necessary to jumpstart the economy post-coronavirus.”

The TRIP report found that America’s rural population, which had declined slightly from 2010 to 2016, has since increased, adding an additional 54,000 people from 2016 to 2018. The modest rebound in rural population is likely a result of increased employment and declining poverty, the report found. The rural poverty rate, which is the percentage of people who are making below the amount of money deemed necessary to have a basic standard of living, decreased from 18.5 percent in 2013 to 16.1 percent in 2018, the TRIP report noted.

An analysis of the Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges and Transit, 23rd Edition, submitted by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) to Congress in 2019, indicates  that the nation’s annual $28 billion investment by all levels of government in rural road, highway and bridge rehabilitation and enhancements should be increased by 28 percent, to approximately $36 billion annually, to improve their condition, reliability and safety.

America’s rural transportation system provides the first and last link in the supply chain from farm to market, connects manufacturers to their customers, supports the tourism industry, and enables the production of energy, food and fiber. Rural Americans are more reliant on the quality of their transportation system than their urban counterparts.

“This report shows infrastructure investment must go beyond our nation’s major cities, and be made in America’s rural communities where our food, fiber, and fuel is produced and much of our equipment is manufactured,” said Dennis Slater, president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. “Manufacturers depend on the roads, bridges, and highways in rural America to supply the equipment our economy relies on and that infrastructure is in desperate need of repair and modernization. This is especially true today as our nation fights the COVID-19 pandemic and hopefully looks to rebuild the economy in the weeks ahead. That’s why we need our lawmakers to prioritize policies that support the movement of essential people and goods now more than ever.”

Improving and modernizing the nation’s rural transportation system will require addressing the significant reduction in state transportation revenues, including motor fuel taxes and tolls, as a result of a significant reduction in travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring that the current federal surface transportation program, which expires on September 30, be reauthorized at funding levels that are adequate and reliable. 

 “The health of the nation’s economy and the safety and quality of life in America’s small communities and rural areas ride on our rural transportation system. The nation’s rural roads and bridges already faced a significant funding shortfall, and that will only be exacerbated by the looming reduction in state transportation revenues as a result of decreased vehicle travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dave Kearby, executive director of TRIP.  “The economic recovery from the pandemic could be hastened by significant investments in our nation’s transportation system to support job creation while making needed improvements to our roads and bridges that will serve our economy and enhance quality of life for all Americans for decades to come.”

RURAL CONNECTIONS: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES IN AMERICA’S HEARTLAND

MAY 2020 Executive Summary

America’s rural heartland is the primary source of many of the goods and products that supports our nation’s economy and way of life. It also is home to a significant share of the nation’s population and many of its natural resources and popular tourist destinations. The strength of the nation’s rural economy is heavily reliant on the quality of its transportation system, particularly the roads and highways that link rural America with the rest of the U.S. and to markets in other countries. The importance of the rural transportation system as the backbone of the nation’s energy, food and fiber supply chain has been heightened during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

America’s rural transportation network provides the first and last link in the supply chain from farm to market. The quality and connectivity of America’s rural transportation system supports the economy of the entire nation and quality of life for the approximately 60 million Americans living in rural areas.  Good transportation is essential in rural areas to provide access to jobs, to facilitate the movement of goods and people, to access opportunities for health care and education, and to provide links to other social services. 

Roads, highways, rails and bridges in the nation’s heartland face a number of significant challenges: they lack adequate capacity; they fail to provide needed levels of connectivity to many communities; and, they cannot adequately support growing freight travel in many corridors. Rural roads and bridges have significant deficiencies and deterioration, they lack many desirable safety features, and they experience fatal traffic crashes at a rate far higher than all other roads and highways. This report looks at the condition, use and safety of the nation’s rural transportation system, particularly its roads, highways and bridges, and identifies needed improvements.

Addressing the nation’s rural transportation challenges will require a significant increase in investment, but the tremendous decrease in vehicle travel that has occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to reduce state transportation revenues by at least 30 percent – approximately $50 billion — over the next 18 months. 

Rural areas in this report are based on the U.S. Census Bureau definition, which defines rural areas as regions outside of urban areas with a population of 2,500 or more.  Road, bridge and safety data in this report is based on the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) definition for rural areas, which allows states to use the U.S. Census Bureau definition to identify rural routes or to define rural areas as regions outside of urban areas with a population of 5,000 or more. The following are the key findings of the report.

AMERICA’S RURAL HEARTLAND

Rural America is the primary source of the energy, food and fiber that drives the U.S. economy.  The decline in rural population has been halted largely due to increasing employment and declining poverty.  

  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau definition, 19 percent of the nation’s residents live in rural areas – approximately 60 million people.  
  • The nation’s rural areas account for 97 percent of America’s land area and are home to the vast majority of the nation’s 2.2 million farms. 
  • America’s rural population, which had declined slightly from 2010 to 2016, has since increased, adding an additional 54,000 people from 2016 to 2018.  The modest rebound in rural population is likely a result of increased employment and declining poverty.
  • The rural poverty rate, which is the percentage of people making below the amount of money deemed necessary to have a basic standard of living, decreased from 18.5 percent in 2013 to 16.1 percent in 2018. 
  • America’s rural economy is far more reliant on goods production, which includes farming, ranching, forestry, fishing, mining and energy extraction, and manufacturing, than is the nation’s urban economy.  
  • Many of the transportation challenges facing rural America are similar to those in urbanized areas. However, rural residents tend to be more heavily reliant on their limited transportation network – primarily rural roads and highways – than their counterparts in urban areas. Residents of rural areas often must travel longer distances to access education, employment, retail locations, social opportunities and health services.
  • The rural U.S. population is older than the nation as a whole, with an average age in rural areas of 49 years, compared to 46 in urban areas. 
  • The movement of retiring baby boomers to rural America is likely to continue in the future as aging Americans seek out communities that offer affordable housing, small-town quality of life and desirable natural amenities, while often located within a short drive of larger metropolitan areas.

RURAL TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGES: FUNDING

America’s ability to address its rural transportation challenges is threatened by a significant decrease in state transportation revenues, forecast due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The nation’s ability to address deficiencies in the rural and urban transportation systems would be enhanced if Congress approves the reauthorization of a timely, adequately and reliably funded federal surface transportation program.  

  • report indicate that the nation’s annual $28 billion investment by all levels of government in rural road, highway and bridge rehabilitation and enhancements should be increased by 28 percent, to approximately $36 billion annually, to improve their condition, reliability and safety.

RURAL TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: SAFETY

Traffic fatalities on the nation’s rural, non-Interstate roads occur at a rate more than double than on all other roads. A disproportionate share of fatalities take place on rural roads compared to the amount of traffic they carry.

  • Rural, non-Interstate roads have a traffic fatality rate that is more than double than on all other roads. In 2018, non-Interstate rural roads had a traffic fatality rate of 2.00 deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles of travel (VMT), compared to a fatality rate of 0.88 deaths per 100 million VMT on all other roads.
  • Rural, non-Interstate routes accounted for 22 percent of all VMT in the U.S. in 2018. However, crashes on the nation’s rural, non-Interstate routes resulted in 40 percent (14,455 of 36,560) of the nation’s traffic fatalities in 2018. 
  • The chart below shows the 25 states that led the nation in the number of rural, non-Interstate traffic fatalities in 2018. Data for all states is available in Appendix B
  • The chart below shows the 25 states with the highest rate of rural, non-Interstate traffic fatalities per 100 million VMT, and the fatality rate per 100 million VMT on all other roads in the state in 2018. Data for all states is available in Appendix C.

The higher traffic fatality rate found on rural non-Interstate routes results from multiple factors, including a lack of desirable roadway safety features, longer emergency vehicle response times, and the higher speeds traveled on rural roads compared to urban roads.

  • Because many rural routes have been constructed over a period of years, they often have inconsistent design features for such things as lane widths, curves, shoulders and clearance zones along roadsides.
  • Rural roads are more likely than urban roads to be two-lane routes. Eighty-six percent of the nation’s rural non-freeway arterial roads have two-lanes, compared to 56 percent of urban non-freeway arterial routes.
  • Rural roads are more likely than urban roads to have narrow lanes. A desirable lane width for collector and arterial roadways is at least 11 feet. Twenty-three percent of rural collector and arterial roads have lane widths of 10 feet or less, compared to 18 percent of urban collector and arterial roads.  
  • Most head-on crashes on rural, non-Interstate roads are caused by a motorist making an unintentional maneuver as a result of driver fatigue, being distracted or driving too fast in a curve.
  • While driver behavior is a significant factor in traffic crash rates, both safety belt usage and impaired driving rates are similar in their involvement rate as a factor in urban and rural traffic crashes. 

Many roadway safety improvements can be made to reduce serious crashes and traffic fatalities. These improvements are designed largely to keep vehicles from leaving the correct lane and to reduce the consequences of a vehicle leaving the roadway.  Making needed roadway safety improvements would result in a significant reduction in traffic fatalities and serious injuries.  

  • A 2017 report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety  found that implementing the $146 billion in needed, cost-effective roadway safety improvements on U.S. roadways would save approximately 63,700 lives and reduce the number of serious injuries as a result of traffic crashes by approximately 350,000 over 20 years.  Thus, over a 20-year period, every $100 million spent on needed roadway safety improvements would reduce the number of traffic fatalities by 44 and serious traffic injuries by 760.  
  •  safety improvements include installing rumble strips along the centerline and sides of roads, improving signage and pavement/lane markings including higher levels of retroreflectivity, installing lighting, removing or shielding roadside obstacles, using chevrons and post-mounted delineators to indicate roadway alignment along curves, adding skid resistant surfaces at curves, upgrading or adding guardrails, and improving pedestrian and bicycling facilities.
  •  improvements include adding turn lanes at intersections, resurfacing pavements and adding median barriers.
  •  improvements include improving roadway alignment, reducing the angle of curves, widening lanes, converting conventional intersections to roundabouts, adding or paving shoulders, adding intermittent passing lanes, or adding a third or fourth lane.

RURAL TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGES: DEFICIENT ROAD AND BRIDGE CONDITIONS

The nation’s rural roads, highways and bridges have significant deficiencies and deterioration. Thirteen percent of the nation’s rural roads have pavements in poor condition, and nearly one-in-twelve of the nation’s rural bridges need rehabilitation, repair or replacement. 

  • In 2018, 13 percent of the nation’s major rural roads (arterials and collectors) were rated in poor condition, 21 percent were rated in mediocre condition, 16 percent were rated in fair condition and 50 percent were rated in good condition.  
  • The chart below ranks the 25 states with the greatest percentage of rural roads in poor condition in 2018. Rural pavement conditions for all states can be found in Appendix D.
  • In 2019, eight percent of the nation’s rural bridges were rated as poor/structurally deficient. Forty-seven percent of rural bridges were rated fair and 45 percent of rural bridges were rated in good condition. 
  • In 2019, 71 percent of the nation’s bridges are rural but 79 percent of the nation’s bridges rated as poor/structurally deficient are rural.
  •  A bridge is rated poor/structurally deficient if there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Poor/structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including commercial trucks, agricultural equipment, school buses and emergency services vehicles.  A fair rating indicates that a bridge’s structural elements are sound but minor deterioration has occurred to the bridge’s deck, substructure or superstructure. 
  • The chart below ranks the 25 states with the highest share of rural bridges rated poor/structurally deficient in 2019. Rural bridge conditions for all states can be found in Appendix E

RURAL TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: CONNECTIVITY

The potential for additional economic growth in many rural areas is being impeded by the failure to significantly modernize the nation’s rural transportation system and provide for adequate connectivity. 

  • Sixty-six U.S. cities with a population of 50,000 or more do not have direct access to the Interstate Highway System Appendix A
  • Rural transportation accessibility and connectivity are critical to transportation-dependent business sectors, including the growing energy production and extraction sectors, advanced manufacturing, and tourism. Many jobs located in urban areas also depend on economic input from rural communities.
  • Since the routes for the Interstate Highway System were designated in 1956, the nation’s population has nearly doubled, from 165 million to 327 million.
  • The abandonment of more than 100,000 miles of rail lines in recent decades, mostly in rural areas, has reduced access in many rural communities and increased reliance on trucking for freight movement. 
  • Only 60 percent of rural counties nationwide have public transportation available. Twenty-eight percent of those have very limited service.
  • Residents of rural areas often must travel longer distances to access education, employment, retail locations, social opportunities and health services. Rural residents also assume additional risks as a result of living in areas that may be farther from emergency response services including police, fire or medical assistance.

RURAL QUALITY OF LIFE AND ECONOMIC VITALITY RELY ON TRANSPORTATION

The quality of life in America’s small communities and rural areas, and the health of the nation’s rural economy, is highly reliant on the quality of the nation’s transportation system, particularly its roads, highways and bridges. America’s rural transportation network provides the first and last link in the supply chain from farm to market while supporting the tourism industry and enabling the production of energy, food and fiber.

  • The importance of the rural transportation system as the backbone of the nation’s energy, food and fiber supply chain has been heightened during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Freight mobility and efficiency is fundamental to rural economic vitality and prosperity.  Economic growth and stability in rural areas are heavily reliant on the ability to move raw materials into, or the value-added products out of, these areas.  
  • Agriculture, food, and related industries, including food and beverage manufacturing, apparel manufacturing and food and beverage stores and establishments — which rely on agricultural inputs — contributed $1.05 trillion to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017. This represents 5.4 percent of overall U.S. GDP.   
  • While farming accounts for just six percent of all jobs in rural America, for every person employed in farming there are seven more jobs in agribusiness, including wholesale and retail trade, processing, marketing, production, and distribution.
  • Employment in goods production, which includes farming, forestry, fishing, mining and energy extraction, accounts for 11 percent of earnings in the nation’s rural economy versus two percent in the urban economy.   
  • Manufacturing jobs account for 15 percent of earnings in the nation’s rural economy, versus nine percent in the urban economy.
  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) report found that “an effective transportation system supports rural economies, reducing the prices farmers pay for inputs such as seeds and fertilizers, raising the value of their crops and greatly increasing market access.”
  • Trucks provide the majority of transportation for agricultural products, accounting for 47 percent of total ton miles of travel, compared to 37 percent by rail and eight percent by barge.   
  • The Council of State Governments  found that “rural highways provide many benefits to the nation’s transportation system, including serving as a bridge to other states, supporting the agriculture and energy industries, connecting economically challenged citizens in remote locations to employers, enabling the movement of people and freight, and providing access to America’s tourist attractions.”
  • Transportation is becoming an even more critical segment of the food distribution network. While food demand is concentrated mostly in urban areas, food distribution is the most dispersed segment of the economy.  
  • A highly competitive and efficient transportation system can lead to lower food costs for U.S. consumers and higher market prices for producers due to lower shipping costs, smaller margins and more competitive export prices.

RURAL CONNECTIONS TO TOURISM AND RECREATION

  • A report by the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council recommends that governments improve the quality of their transportation systems serving the movement of goods from rural to urban regions as a strategy to lower food costs and increase economic prosperity.
  • A report on agricultural transportation by the USDA found it likely that market changes and shifts in consumer preferences would further increase the reliance on trucking to move U.S. agricultural products.

The condition and quality of the nation’s highway system plays a critical role in providing access to America’s many tourist destinations, particularly its scenic parks and recreational areas, which are mostly located in rural areas.

RURAL ACCESS TO ENERGY SOURCES

Travel loads on America’s rural roads are increasing, due partly to the booming energy extraction sector. This has been driven by increases in domestic oil and gas extraction, largely as a result of advancements in hydraulic fracturing (fracking), which has greatly increased the accessibility of shale oil and gas deposits, and the increased production of renewable energy such as wind and solar.

  • Ethanol production in the U.S. increased from 1.6 billion gallons in 2000 to 15.8 billion gallons in 2019.  
  • U.S. production of liquid fuels, including crude oil and natural gas, increased 93 percent from 2000 to 2019, increasing liquid fuel’s share of overall U.S. energy production (including coal and nuclear) from 49 to 66 percent.
  • U.S. production of renewable energy, including wind and solar, increased 91 percent from 2000 to 2019, increasing renewable energy’s share of overall U.S. energy production from nine to 12 percent.
  • The development of significant new oil and gas fields in numerous areas, particularly in the North Central Plains, and increased agricultural production are placing increased traffic loads by large trucks on non-Interstate rural roads, which often have not been constructed to carry such high load volumes. 
  • The average annual travel per-lane-mile by large trucks on rural Interstate highways in the U.S. increased 29 percent from 2000 to 2018.   

TRANSPORTATION OPPORTUNITIES IN RURAL AMERICA

America must adopt transportation policies that improve rural transportation connectivity, safety and conditions to provide the nation’s small communities and rural areas with a level of safe and efficient access that will support quality of life and enhance economic productivity. TRIP recommends the following for an improved rural transportation system, based partially on findings and recommendations made by AASHTO, the National Highway Cooperative Research Program (NCHRP), the Council of State Governments (CSG) and the Ports-to-Plains Alliance.

Improve access and connectivity in America’s small communities and rural areas

  • Widen and extend key highway routes, including Interstates, to increase connectivity to smaller and emerging communities to facilitate access to jobs, education and healthcare, while improving access for agriculture, energy, manufacturing, forestry, tourism and other critical segments of the rural economy.
  • NCHRP report found that the construction of an additional 30,000 lane miles of limited access highways, largely along existing corridors, is needed to address the nation’s need for increased rural connectivity.       
  • Modernize major two-lane roads and highways so they can accommodate increased personal and commercial travel.
  • Improve public transit service in rural America to provide improved mobility for people without access to private vehicles. 

Improve rural traffic safety

  • Adequately fund needed rural roadway safety improvements and provide enhanced enforcement, education and improved emergency response to reduce the rate of rural traffic fatalities.  
  • Implement cost-effective roadway safety improvements, including rumble strips, shoulder improvements, lane widening, curve reductions, skid resistant surfaces at curves, passing lanes, intersection improvements and improved signage, pavement markings and lighting, guardrails and barriers, and improved shielding of obstacles.

Improve the condition of rural roads, highways and bridges

  • Adequately fund local and state transportation programs to insure sufficient preservation of rural roads, highways and bridges to maintain transportation service and accommodate large truck travel, which is needed to support the rural economy.  

All data used in this report is the most current available. Sources of information for this report include:  The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Council of State Governments (CSG) and the U.S. Census Bureau.  

For appendix references https://tripnet.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Rural_Roads_TRIP_Report_Appendix_E_2020.pdf

For the complete report visit: tripent.org

TRIP Report: INCREASED DEMAND FOR U.S. FREIGHT SHIPMENTS HAMPERED BY LACK OF ADEQUATE INVESTMENT IN NEEDED HIGHWAY IMPROVEMENTS

INCREASED DEMAND FOR U.S. FREIGHT SHIPMENTS HAMPERED BY TRAFFIC CONGESTION AND BOTTLENECKS AND LACK OF ADEQUATE INVESTMENT IN NEEDED HIGHWAY IMPROVEMENTS; FATAL TRUCK CRASHES INCREASING AT A TIME WHEN ADVANCES IN VEHICLE AUTONOMY, MANUFACTURING, WAREHOUSING & E-COMMERCE ARE PLACING UNPRECEDENTED DEMANDS ON THE NATION’S FREIGHT SYSTEM

 The ability of the nation’s freight transportation system to efficiently and safely accommodate the growing demand for freight movement could be hampered by inadequate transportation capacity, institutional barriers to enhancing the nation’s freight facilities, a lack of adequate funding for needed improvements to the freight network, and a shortage of drivers, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a national transportation research nonprofit. This is happening as freight movement is being transformed by advances in vehicle autonomy, manufacturing, warehousing and supply chain automation, increasing e-commerce, and the growing logistic networks being developed to accommodate consumer demand for faster delivery.

TRIP’s report, America’s Rolling Warehouses: Opportunities and Challenges with the Nation’s Freight Delivery System, examines current and projected levels of freight movement in the U.S., large truck safety, and trends impacting freight movement. It concludes with a series of recommendations to improve the nation’s freight transportation system. The chart below shows the states with the highest value of freight by all modes of transportation in 2016, states with the highest share of rural interstate vehicle miles of travel (VMT) by combination trucks, states with the largest average annual number of large truck fatalities per one million population from 2013-2017, and states with the largest projected increase in freight by value between 2016 and 2045.

TRIP’s report found that freight delivery is expected to increase rapidly as a result of economic growth, increasing demand, growing international trade, changing business and retail models, and a significantly increased reliance on e-commerce by businesses and households. Each year, the U.S. freight system moves approximately 17.7 billion tons of freight, valued at $16.8 trillion. Trucks carried 72 percent of freight by value in 2016 and 66 percent by weight. From 2016 to 2045, freight moved annually in the U.S. by trucks is expected to increase 91 percent in value (inflation-adjusted dollars) and 44 percent by weight.

“The new TRIP report again highlights the urgent need for federal action to modernize America’s infrastructure,” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce Vice President for Transportation Infrastructure Ed Mortimer. “The future of our country’s ability to compete in a 21st century economy by providing the safe movement of commerce is at stake, and this report helps bring a spotlight to the issue.”

The TRIP report also found that 12 percent of travel on Interstate highways and 21 percent of travel on rural Interstate highways is by combination trucks.

“TRIP’s report makes an important contribution to a growing body of evidence that our deteriorating infrastructure is putting the brakes on our economy,” said Chris Spear, president and CEO of the American Trucking Association. “The cost of doing nothing is too high and will only get higher if our leaders do not step up and put forward a comprehensive investment package backed by real funding.”

While the amount and value of goods being shipped has risen to unprecedented levels, mounting traffic congestion is increasing the cost of moving freight and reducing the economic competitiveness and efficiency of businesses that require reliable, affordable freight transportation. Traffic congestion resulted in $74.5 billion in additional operational costs to the trucking industry in 2016 as a result of commercial trucks being stuck in traffic for 1.2 billion hours.

“Infrastructure issues lead to increased shipping costs, delayed delivery times, and decreased productivity for U.S. manufacturers,” said Doosan Bobcat North America President Mike Ballweber. “Whether it’s a hauling 7,500-pound skid-steer loader to a customer in Georgia or a shipment of attachments to a dealership in Arizona, we depend on the U.S. freight transportation system to deliver our products efficiently and safely. I encourage our lawmakers in Washington, D.C. to make transportation infrastructure a priority and fund needed repairs and upgrades to our roads, highways and bridges.”

According to the TRIP report, traffic fatalities as a result of crashes involving large trucks (10,000 lbs. or greater) increased 20 percent, from 2013 (3,981) to 2017 (4,761) in.  Approximately five-out-of-six people killed in crashes involving a large truck were occupants of the other vehicle involved in the crash or pedestrians or bicyclists.  The most frequent event prior to fatal crashes between large trucks and another vehicle is the entering or encroaching into a large truck’s lane by the other vehicle.

“It’s clear that the safe and efficient movement of goods and services depends on a well-funded national transportation system,” said Jim Tymon, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. “Without strong investment from our federal partners, state departments of transportation won’t be able to meet the growing demands on the system.”

Advances in vehicle autonomy, manufacturing, warehousing and supply chain automation have transformed freight delivery, along with increases in e-commerce and the growing logistic networks being developed by Amazon and other large retailers. A lack of adequate parking for large trucks and a shortage of available truck drivers, particularly for long-haul trips, challenge the safety and efficiency of the nation’s freight system.

TRIP’s report concludes with a series of recommendations to improve freight transportation by increasing capacity on the nation’s freight transportation system, particularly at major bottlenecks; improving the reliability and condition of intermodal connectors between major highways and rail, ports and waterways; continued development of vehicle autonomy and the further automation of warehousing; improving roadway safety and providing additional truck parking spaces to ensure adequate and timely rest for drivers; providing funding for freight transportation improvements that is substantial, continuing, multimodal, reliable, and, in most cases, specifically dedicated to freight transportation projects; and, providing a permanent, adequate and reliable funding fix to the federal Highway Trust Fund as a critical step towards funding a 21st Century freight transportation system.

“As consumers demand faster deliveries and a more responsive supply chain, the nation’s freight transportation network is facing unprecedented roadblocks in the form of increasing congestion and a lack of transportation funding to improve the nation’s transportation system,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP.  “Fixing the federal Highway Trust Fund with a long-term, sustainable source of revenue that supports needed transportation investment will be crucial to improving the efficiency and safety of our freight transportation system.”

Executive Summary

The nation’s freight transportation system plays a vital role in the quality of life of Americans, providing the timely movement of raw materials and finished products that are vital to the health of the U.S. agricultural, industrial, energy, retail and service sectors.

The amount of freight transported in the U.S. is expected to increase significantly as a result of further economic growth, changing business and retail models, increasing international trade, and  rapidly changing consumer expectations that place an emphasis on faster deliveries, often of smaller packages or payloads.

The ability of the nation’s freight transportation system to efficiently and safely accommodate the growing demand for freight movement could be hampered by inadequate transportation capacity, a lack of adequate safety features on some transportation facilities, institutional barriers to enhancing the nation’s freight facilities, a lack of adequate funding for needed improvements to the freight network and a shortage of drivers.

The need to improve the U.S. freight network is occurring at a time when the nation’s freight delivery system is being transformed by advances in vehicle autonomy, manufacturing, warehousing and supply chain automation, increasing e-commerce, and the growing logistic networks being developed by Amazon and other retail organizations in response to the demand for a faster and more responsive delivery and logistics cycle.

This report examines current and projected levels of freight movement in the U.S., large truck safety, and trends impacting freight movement. It concludes with a series of recommendations to improve the nation’s freight transportation system.

U.S. FREIGHT TRANSPORTATION TRENDS

The delivery of freight – merchandise or commodities that are moved by a mode of transportation either for a fee or by a private fleet – is expected to increase rapidly as a result of economic growth, increasing demand, growing international trade, changing business and retail models, and a significantly increased reliance on e-commerce by businesses and households. 

  • Freight transportation impacts every business and household. It is critical to the nation’s economy, which depends on efficient freight movement to connect businesses, manufacturers, customers and households with the U.S. and the world.
  • The nation’s 327 million residents, 126 million households, 7.7 million business establishments and 90,000 governmental units are all part of an economy that requires the efficient movement of freight.
  • The freight transportation system in the U.S. relies on an extensive system of highways, railroads, waterways, pipelines and waterways. This system includes 958,000 miles of Federal-aid highways, 141,000 miles of railroads, 11,000 miles of inland waterways, more than 19,000 airports, more than 5,000 coastal, Great Lakes and inland waterway facilities, and 1.6 million miles of pipelines.
  • The nation’s freight system moves a daily average of approximately 51 million tons freight valued at approximately $55 billion. The U.S. freight system annually moves approximately 17.7 billion tons of freight, valued at approximately $16.8 trillion.
  • Trucking accounted for the largest modal share of freight movement in 2016, carrying 72 percent of freight by value and 66 percent by weight.
  • The following chart details modal freight movement in 2016 by value and weight.

  • Modern society is likely to become even more reliant on trucking and other types of shipments as international trade continues to increase, domestic demand for freight movement increases, and commercial and retail models increasingly rely on timely and efficient freight deliveries.
  • From 2016 to 2045, freight moved annually in the U.S. is expected to increase by 104 percent in value (inflation-adjusted dollars) and 44 percent by weight.
  • From 2016 to 2045, freight moved annually in the U.S. by trucks is expected to increase by 91 percent in value (inflation-adjusted dollars) and 41 percent by weight. The following chart indicates the anticipated percentage increase in freight by value and weight from 2016 to 2045, by mode.
  • In 2016, the share of overall U.S. freight shipments to or from another country was 11 percent measured by weight and 21 percent measured by value. By 2045, the share of U.S. freight shipments to or from another country is projected to be 18 percent by weight and 39 percent by value.

IMPACT OF EMERGING TECHNOLOGY ON FREIGHT

Freight delivery is being transformed by a convergence of advances in vehicle autonomy, manufacturing, warehousing and supply chain automation, and by increases in e-commerce and the growing logistic networks being developed by Amazon and other large retailers.

  • The development of autonomous trucks is expected to proceed in stages from currently deployed driver assist tools such as cruise control and lane-assist to a level that will allow large trucks to mostly drive themselves with a driver monitoring the vehicle, to full autonomy in certain environments, such as major highways, and finally to full autonomy.
  • Improved automation of manufacturing and warehousing facilities is increasing the competitiveness of domestic manufacturing and increasing the need for timely freight movement to and from sites that are able to operate 24 hours per day.
  • Digitization is significantly improving the efficiency of the nation’s supply chain by allowing freight brokers, carriers, shippers and receivers to exchange real-time data to more efficiently use freight capacity.
  • From 2014 to 2018, U.S. e-commerce increased by 69 percent, from $298 billion to $505 billion, and is expected to increase another 39 percent by 2022, to $706 billion. Since 2016, Amazon has built 20 new distribution centers in the U.S. and continues to expand its logistics system domestically and globally, including the development of truck, aircraft and shipping fleets.
  • Advancements in vehicle autonomy and improvements in vehicle and supply chain automation are anticipated to result in reduced shipping costs.

STATE FREIGHT TRANSPORTATION

The health of a state’s economy and quality of life are impacted greatly by the quality and reliability of a state’s transportation system and its ability to provide efficient, safe freight movement.

  • The following chart ranks the 10 states with the greatest amount of freight shipped to or from sites in their state (including to or from foreign locations) by truck and by all modes, measured by value in millions of dollars. Data for all 50 states is available in the Appendix.

  • The following chart ranks the 10 states with the greatest amount of freight shipped to or from sites in their state by truck and by all modes, measured by weight in thousands of tons. Data for all 50 states is available in the Appendix.

  • The following chart ranks the 20 states that are expected to realize the greatest percentage increase in freight (by all modes and by truck only) shipped to and from sites within their state from 2016 to 2045, in inflation-adjusted dollars. Data for all 50 states is available in the Appendix.

  • The following chart ranks the 20 states that are expected to realize the greatest percentage increase in freight (by all modes and by truck only) shipped to and from sites within their state from 2016 to 2045, in weight. Data for all states is available in the Appendix.

IMPACT OF TRAFFIC CONGESTION ON FREIGHT DELIVERY

Rising levels of traffic congestion are increasing the cost of moving freight and reducing the economic competitiveness and efficiency of businesses that require reliable, affordable freight transportation.   

  • The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) estimates that traffic congestion on the nation’s major highways resulted in the addition of $74.5 billion in operational costs to the trucking industry in 2016, including 1.2 billion hours of lost productivity as a result of trucks being stuck in traffic.
  • Fifty-three percent of vehicle miles of travel by large trucks (10,000 lbs. or greater) in 2016 occurred on Interstate highways. Forty-six percent of urban Interstates are congested.
  • Twelve percent of travel on Interstate highways and 21 percent of travel on rural Interstate highways is by combination trucks.
  • The following chart ranks the 20 states in 2017 with the greatest share of vehicle miles of travel on all Interstate highways and on rural Interstate highways which is by combination trucks. Data for all states is available in the Appendix.

  • Using a freight congestion index developed by the Federal Highway Administration, in 2019 the ATRI compiled the following list of the nation’s worst freight highway bottlenecks based on the number of trucks using a particular highway facility and the impact of congestion on the average speed of those vehicles.

  • The U.S. Department of Transportation forecasts that between 2012 and 2045, the miles of major U.S. highways that are congested during peak periods will quadruple from 19,200 miles to 78,500.
  • The following map indicates major highways that carry more than 8,500 large trucks per day and/or on which more than 25 percent of daily traffic is comprised of large trucks.

  • The miles of major highway segments with more than 8,500 large trucks per day and where at least 25 percent of vehicles are large trucks is expected to increase by 140 percent between 2012 and 2045, from 5,560 miles to 13,480 miles.

LARGE TRUCK SAFETY

Traffic fatalities as a result of crashes involving large trucks (10,000 lbs. or greater) increased significantly over the last five years.  Approximately five-out-of-six people killed in crashes involving a large truck were occupants of the other vehicle involved in the crash or pedestrians or bicyclists.  The most frequent event prior to fatal crashes between large trucks and another vehicle is the entering or encroaching into a large truck’s lane by the other vehicle.

  • Large trucks account for four percent of all registered vehicles and nine percent of all vehicle miles of travel annually. Twelve percent of traffic fatalities occur in crashes in which a large truck was involved.
  • Approximately three-quarters – 76 percent – of large trucks that were involved in fatal crashes in 2016 weighed more than 33,000 lbs.
  • From 2013 to 2017, fatal traffic crashes involving large trucks resulted in the deaths of 21,114 people. This included 3,582 drivers or passengers of large trucks and 17,532 drivers or occupants of other vehicles, or non-motorists, such as pedestrians or bicyclists.

  • From 2013 to 2017, the number of fatalities in large-truck involved crashes in the U.S. increased 20 percent, from 3,981 to 4,761.
  • Eighty percent of fatal crashes involving large trucks from 2013 to 2017 were multiple-vehicle crashes, compared to 61 percent for fatal crashes involving only passenger vehicles.
  • In 62 percent of fatal large truck crashes from 2013 to 2017, the most critical pre-crash event was either another vehicle’s encroachment into a large truck’s lane (38 percent) or another vehicle entering a large truck’s lane (26 percent).
  • A 2018 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that analyzed 2016 two-vehicle fatal crashes involving a large truck found the following: in 43 percent of the crashes both vehicles were proceeding straight, in nine percent of the crashes the other vehicle was turning left or right regardless of the large trucks maneuver, in 10 percent of the crashes the truck and the other vehicle were negotiating curves, and in seven percent of the crashes either the truck or the other vehicle was stopped in a traffic lane (five percent and two percent, respectively).
  • In large truck-involved fatal crashes in 2016, two percent of large truck drivers had blood alcohol concentrations above .08 f/dL, while the share for drivers of passenger vehicles, light trucks and motorcycles with blood alcohol concentrations above .08 f/dL was 21, 20 and 25 percent, respectively.
  • Fatal large truck crashes are more likely to occur on rural roads, two-lane roads and roads with speed limits 55 miles per hour or higher.
  • The following chart ranks the top 10 states with the largest annual average number of fatalities in large truck involved crashes from 2013 to 2017. It also includes the average number of large truck non-occupant fatalities, which includes non-motorists, and large truck occupant fatalities. Data for all 50 states is available in the Appendix.

  • The following chart ranks the top 20 states with the largest annual average number of fatalities in large truck involved crashes per one million population from 2013 to 2017. Data for all 50 states is available in the Appendix.

CHALLENGES IMPACTING THE FUTURE OF U.S. FREIGHT TRANSPORTATION

A lack of adequate parking for large trucks and a shortage of available truck drivers, particularly for long-haul trips challenge the safety and efficiency of the nation’s freight system.  

  • A significant lack of adequate truck parking along major U.S. highways reduces the efficiency and safety of freight movement. Tired truck drivers may continue to drive because they have difficulty finding a place to park, or they may choose to park at unsafe locations such as a highway shoulder, exit ramps or vacant lots.
  • A 2014 survey evaluating the adequacy of truck parking capacity in the U.S. found that 38 states reported having truck parking problems, particularly along major freight corridors and in large metropolitan areas. Truck drivers surveyed said truck parking problems exist in all states and 75 percent of truck drivers surveyed reported having difficulty finding safe and legal parking during mandated rest periods.
  • The American Trucking Associations estimates there is a current shortage of 63,000 truck drivers in the U.S. and the shortage is expected to increase to 174,000 by 2026.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVING U.S. FREIGHT TRANSPORTATION

Achieving a 21st century freight transportation system capable of efficiently and safely meeting the nation’s freight transportation needs will require implementation of a freight transportation plan that addresses the following infrastructure, institutional and financial bottlenecks.

Infrastructure Bottlenecks

  • Increase the capacity of the nation’s freight transportation system, particularly at major bottlenecks, including portions of Interstate Highways and major trade gateways and corridors, rail facilities and ports, and including the addition of general purpose highway lanes as well as the construction of truck-only lanes when viable, such as the planned addition of 40 miles of truck-only lanes on a portion of I-75 in Georgia.
  • Construct additional intermodal connectors and improve the reliability and condition of intermodal connectors between major highways and rail, ports and waterways. The number of intermodal connectors in the U.S. increased 30 percent from 2000 to 2014 from 616 to 798.
  • Approximately two-thirds (68 percent) of intermodal connectors are congested and 56 percent of intermodal connectors have pavements in poor condition.
  • Continue to develop vehicle autonomy and further automate warehousing.
  • Improve roadway safety, particularly along highways and at major intersections, and provide additional truck parking spaces to insure adequate and timely rest for drivers.

Institutional Bottlenecks

  • Further streamline the planning, review and permitting of transportation projects.
  • Facilitate greater multijurisdictional collaboration on multimodal freight transportation solutions.

Funding bottlenecks:

  • Provide funding for freight transportation improvements that is substantial, continuing, multimodal, reliable, and, in most cases, specifically dedicated to freight transportation projects.
  • Provide a permanent, adequate and reliable funding fix to the federal Highway Trust Fund as a critical step towards funding a 21st Century freight transportation system.

All data used in this report is the most current available.  Sources of information for this report include:  The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), The American Trucking Associations (ATA), The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) the Freight Analysis Framework (FAF), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the U.S. Census Bureau. 

 

TRIP: U.S. RURAL ROADS & BRIDGES HAVE SIGNIFICANT DEFICIENCIES & HIGH FATALITY RATES; REPAIRS & MODERNIZATION NEEDED TO IMPROVE CONDITIONS, BOOST SAFETY & SUPPORT GROWTH & CONNECTIVITY

America’s rural transportation system is in need of repairs and modernization to support economic growth in the nation’s Heartland, which is a critical source of energy, food, and fiber. With increases in population and growing employment, rural America is heavily reliant on the quality of its transportation system to sustain further growth. This is according to a new report released today by TRIP, a national transportation research nonprofit. The report, Rural Connections: Challenges and Opportunities in America’s Heartland, evaluates the safety and condition of the nation’s rural roads and bridges and finds that the nation’s rural transportation system is in need of immediate improvements to address deficient roads and bridges, high crash rates, and inadequate connectivity and capacity. The chart below shows the states with the highest rate of rural pavements in poor condition, states with the highest share of rural bridges that are rated poor/structurally deficient, and states with the highest fatality rates on non-Interstate, rural roads.

The report finds that the nation’s rural roads and bridges have significant deficiencies. Fifteen percent of U.S. rural roads are rated in poor condition, while 21 percent are in mediocre condition. Seventeen percent of the nation’s rural roads are in fair condition and the remaining 47 percent are in good condition. Nine percent of the nation’s rural bridges are rated in poor/structurally deficient condition, meaning there is significant deterioration to the major components of the bridge. Poor/structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including agricultural equipment, commercial trucks, school buses and emergency services vehicles.  Forty-six percent of rural bridges are rated fair.  A fair rating indicates that a bridge’s structural elements are sound but minor deterioration has occurred to the bridge’s deck, substructure or superstructure.

“Farmers and ranchers depend on rural roads, highways and bridges for daily life and to move their products to market,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Securing the appropriate resources at the local, state and federal levels will allow for the improvements needed to provide a rural transportation system that will keep goods moving, American agriculture competitive and rural Americans safe.”

In addition to deteriorated roads and bridges, the TRIP report finds that traffic crashes and fatalities on rural non-Interstate roads are disproportionately high, occurring at a rate nearly two-and-a-half times higher than on all other roads. In 2017, non-Interstate rural roads had a traffic fatality rate of 2.14 deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles of travel, compared to a fatality rate on all other roads of 0.88 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles of travel. Rural roads are more likely to have narrow lanes, limited shoulders, sharp curves, exposed hazards, pavement drop-offs, steep slopes and limited clear zones along roadsides.

“This report highlights again the critical need for federal action to modernize our nation’s infrastructure,” said Ed Mortimer, vice president of transportation infrastructure of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  “We have a historic opportunity to address many rural infrastructure needs with President Trump and Congress discussing a major infrastructure bill. Let’s hope they act to address this critical issue!”

The TRIP report found that America’s rural population, which had declined slightly from 2010 to 2016, increased in 2017, adding an additional 33,000 people.  The modest rebound in rural population is likely a result of increased employment and declining poverty, the report found.  The number of jobs in rural America increased by 370,000 from 2013 to 2017 and the rural unemployment rate has decreased steadily from 10.3 percent in 2010 to 4.4 percent in 2017.  The rural poverty rate, which is the percentage of people who are making below the amount of money deemed necessary to have a basic standard of living, has decreased from 18.4 percent in 2013 to 16.4 percent in 2017, the TRIP report noted.

America’s rural transportation system provides the first and last link in the supply chain from farm to market connects manufacturers to their customers, supports the tourism industry, and enables the production of energy, food, and fiber. Rural Americans are more reliant on the quality of their transportation system than their urban counterparts.

“Rural roads play a critical role in supporting the transportation needs of millions of Americans every day,” said Kathleen Bower, AAA senior vice president of public affairs and international relations. “Damaged and deteriorating roadways too often result in deadly crashes, and it is time to act. Making critical safety improvements to rural roads will save thousands of lives each year and help move our economy forward.”

The TRIP report finds that the U.S. needs to implement transportation improvements that will improve rural transportation connectivity, safety and conditions to provide the nation’s small communities and rural areas with safe and efficient access to support the quality of life and enhance economic productivity.

“The health of the nation’s economy and the safety and quality of life in America’s small communities and rural areas ride on our rural transportation system. Our rural roads and bridges provide crucial links from farm to market, move manufactured and energy products, and provide access to countless tourism, social and recreational destinations,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP.  “Fixing the federal Highway Trust Fund with a long-term, sustainable source of revenue that supports the transportation investment needed will be crucial to the modernization of our rural transportation system.”

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Executive Summary

America’s rural heartland plays a vital role as home to a significant share of the nation’s population, many of its natural resources, and popular tourist destinations. It is also the primary source of the energy, food, and fiber that supports America’s economy and way of life. The strength of the nation’s rural economy is heavily reliant on the quality of its transportation system, particularly the roads and highways that link rural America with the rest of the U.S. and to markets in other countries. The quality and connectivity of America’s rural transportation system support the economy of the entire nation and quality of life for the approximately 60 million Americans living in rural areas.

Good transportation is essential in rural areas to provide access to jobs, to facilitate the movement of goods and people, to access opportunities for health care and educational skills, and to provide links to other social services. Transportation supports businesses and is a critical factor in a company’s decision to locate new business operations. For communities that rely on tourism and natural amenities to help support their economy, transportation is the key link between visitors and destinations.

Roads, highways, rails, and bridges in the nation’s heartland face a number of significant challenges: they lack adequate capacity; they fail to provide needed levels of connectivity to many communities; and, they cannot adequately support growing freight travel in many corridors. Rural roads and bridges have significant deficiencies and deterioration, they lack many desirable safety features, and they experience fatal traffic crashes at a rate far higher than all other roads and highways. This report looks at the condition, use and safety of the nation’s rural transportation system, particularly its roads, highways and bridges, and identifies needed improvements.

Rural areas in this report are based on the U.S. Census Bureau definition, which defines rural areas as regions outside of urban areas with a population of 2,500 or more.  Road, bridge and safety data in this report is based on the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) definition for rural areas, which allows states to use the U.S. Census Bureau definition to identify rural routes or to define rural areas as regions outside of urban areas with a population of 5,000 or more. The following are the key findings of the report.

AMERICA’S RURAL HEARTLAND

Rural America is the primary source of energy, food, and fiber that drives the U.S. economy.  The decline in the rural population has been halted largely due to increasing employment and declining poverty. 

  • The U.S. Census Bureau defines rural areas as regions outside of urban areas with a population of 2,500 or more.
  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau definition, 19 percent of the nation’s residents live in rural areas – approximately 60 million people.
  • The nation’s rural areas account for 97 percent of America’s land area and are home to the vast majority of the nation’s 2.2 million farms.
  • America’s rural population, which had declined slightly from 2010 to 2016, increased in 2017, adding an additional 33,000 people.  The modest rebound in rural population is likely a result of increased employment and declining poverty.
  • The number of jobs in rural America increased by 370,000 from 2013 to 2017, and the rural unemployment rate has decreased steadily from 10.3 percent in 2010 to 4.4 percent in 2017.
  • The rural poverty rate, which is the percentage of people making below the amount of money deemed necessary to have a basic standard of living, has decreased from 18.4 percent in 2013 to 16.4 percent in 2017.
  • America’s rural economy is far more reliant on goods production, which includes farming, forestry, fishing, mining and energy extraction, and manufacturing that is the nation’s urban economy.
  • Many of the transportation challenges facing rural America are similar to those in urbanized areas. However, rural residents tend to be more heavily reliant on their limited transportation network – primarily rural roads and highways – than their counterparts in urban areas. Residents of rural areas often must travel long distances to access education, employment, retail locations, social opportunities, and health services.
  • Nineteen percent of the rural population is 65 years or older, compared to 15 percent in urban areas.
  • The movement of retiring baby boomers to rural America is likely to continue in the future as aging Americans seek out communities that offer affordable housing, small-town quality of life and desirable natural amenities, while often located within a short drive of larger metropolitan areas.
  • The amount of rural tourism in a region is tied partly to the level of highway access. Eighty-six percent of trips taken by Americans to visit rural areas are for leisure purposes.
  • Popular tourist activities in rural America include hiking, golfing, biking, hunting, fishing and water sports. Rural areas are also home to beaches, national and state parks, wineries, orchards, and other national amenities.

RURAL QUALITY OF LIFE AND ECONOMIC VITALITY RELY ON TRANSPORTATION

The quality of life in America’s small communities and rural areas, and the health of the nation’s rural economy is highly reliant on the quality of the nation’s transportation system, particularly its roads, highways, and bridges. America’s rural transportation network provides the first and last link in the supply chain from farm to market while supporting the tourism industry and enabling the production of energy, food, and fiber.

  • Freight mobility and efficiency are fundamental to rural economic vitality and prosperity. Economic growth and stability in rural areas are heavily reliant on the ability to move raw materials into, or the value-added products out of, these areas.
  • Agriculture, food, and related industries, including food and beverage manufacturing, apparel manufacturing and food and beverage stores and establishments — which rely on agricultural inputs — contributed $1.05 trillion to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016. This represents 5.7 percent of overall U.S. GDP.
  • While farming accounts for just six percent of all jobs in rural America, for every person employed in farming there are seven more jobs in agribusiness, including wholesale and retail trade, processing, marketing, production, and distribution.
  • Employment in goods production, which includes farming, forestry, fishing, mining and energy extraction, accounts for 11 percent of earnings in the nation’s rural economy versus two percent in the urban economy.
  • Manufacturing jobs account for 15 percent of earnings in the nation’s rural economy versus nine percent in the urban economy.
  • A United States Department of Agriculture(USDA) report found that “an effective transportation system supports rural economies, reducing the prices farmers pay for inputs such as seeds and fertilizers, raising the value of their crops and greatly increasing market access.”
  • Trucks provide the majority of transportation for agricultural products, accounting for 47 percent of total ton-miles of travel compared to 37 percent by rail and eight percent by barge.
  • The Council of State Governments found that “rural highways provide many benefits to the nation’s transportation system, including serving as a bridge to other states, supporting the agriculture and energy industries, connecting economically challenged citizens in remote locations to employers, enabling the movement of people and freight, and providing access to America’s tourist attractions.”
  • Transportation is becoming an even more critical segment of the food distribution network. While food demand is concentrated mostly in urban areas, food distribution is the most dispersed segment of the economy.
  • A highly competitive and efficient transportation system can lead to lower food costs for U.S. consumers and higher market prices for producers due to lower shipping costs, smaller margins, and more competitive export prices.
  • A report by the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council recommends that governments improve the quality of their transportation systems serving the movement of goods from rural to urban regions as a strategy to lower food costs and increase economic prosperity.
  • A report on agricultural transportation by the USDA found it likely that market changes and shifts in consumer preferences would further increase the reliance on trucking to move U.S. agricultural products.

RURAL CONNECTIONS TO TOURISM AND RECREATION

The condition and quality of the nation’s highway system plays a critical role in providing access to America’s many tourist destinations, particularly its scenic parks and recreational areas, which are mostly located in rural areas.

  • America’s 418 national parks, which are largely located in rural areas, received a record 318 million visitors in 2018, many in personal vehicles.
  • In 2018, domestic and international travelers in the U.S. spent approximately $1.1 trillion.
  • Travel and tourism spending in the U.S. in 2018 supported 8.9 million jobs.

RURAL ACCESS TO ENERGY SOURCES

Travel loads on America’s rural roads are increasing, due partly to the booming energy extraction sector. This has been driven by increases in domestic oil and gas extraction, largely as a result of advancements in hydraulic fracturing (fracking), which has greatly increased the accessibility of shale oil and gas deposits, and the increased production of renewable energy such as wind and solar.

  • Ethanol production in the U.S. increased from 1.6 billion gallons in 2000 to 16.1 billion gallons in 2018.
  • U.S. production of liquid fuels, including crude oil and natural gas, increased 74 percent from 2000 to 2018, increasing liquid fuel’s share of overall U.S. energy production (including coal and nuclear) from 48 to 63 percent.
  • U.S. production of renewable energy, including wind and solar, increased 92 percent from 2000 to 2018, increasing renewable energy’s share of overall U.S. energy production from nine to 12 percent.
  • The development of significant new oil and gas fields in numerous areas, particularly in the North Central Plains, and increased agricultural production are placing increased traffic loads by large trucks on non-Interstate rural roads, which often have not been constructed to carry such high load volumes.
  • The average travel per-lane-mile by large trucks on rural Interstate highways in the U.S. increased by 33 percent from 2000 to 2017.

RURAL TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: CONNECTIVITY

The potential for additional economic growth in many rural areas is being impeded by the failure to significantly modernize the nation’s rural transportation system and provide for adequate connectivity.

  • Sixty-six U.S. cities with a population of 50,000 or more do not have direct access to the Interstate Highway System (Appendix A).
  • Rural transportation accessibility and connectivity are critical to transportation-dependent business sectors, including the growing energy production sector, advanced manufacturing and tourism. Many jobs located in urban areas also depend on economic input from rural communities.
  • Since the routes for the Interstate Highway System were designated in 1956, the nation’s population has nearly doubled, from 165 million to 327 million.
  • The abandonment of more than 100,000 miles of rail lines in recent decades, mostly in rural areas, has reduced access in many rural communities and increased reliance on trucking for freight movement.
  • A report by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials(AASHTO) found that connectivity is particularly poor in rural portions of Western states because of the significant distance between Interstate highway routes and the lack of adequate rail service.
  • Only 60 percent of rural counties nationwide have public transportation available. Twenty-eight percent of those have very limited service.
  • Residents of rural areas often must travel long distances to access education, employment, retail locations, social opportunities, and health services. Rural residents also assume additional risks as a result of living in areas that may be farther from emergency response services including police, fire or medical assistance.

RURAL TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: SAFETY

Traffic fatalities on the nation’s rural, non-Interstate roads occur at a rate approximately two-and-a-half times higher than on all other roads. A disproportionate share of fatalities takes place on rural roads compared to the amount of traffic they carry.

  • Rural, non-Interstate roads have a traffic fatality rate that is nearly two-and-a-half times higher than all other roads. In 2017, non-Interstate rural roads had a traffic fatality rate of 2.14 deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles of travel (VMT), compared to a fatality rate of 0.88 deaths per 100 million VMT on all other roads.
  • Rural, non-Interstate routes accounted for 22 percent of all VMT in the U.S. in 2017. However, crashes on the nation’s rural, non-Interstate routes resulted in 41 percent (15,205 of 37,133) of the nation’s traffic deaths in 2017.
  • The chart below identifies the 25 states that led the nation in the number of rural non-Interstate traffic deaths in 2017. Data for all states is available in Appendix B.

  • The chart below identifies the 25 states with the highest rate of rural non-Interstate traffic fatalities per 100 million VMT, and the fatality rate per 100 million VMT on all other roads in the state in 2017. Data for all states is available in Appendix C.

The higher traffic fatality rate found on rural non-Interstate routes is a result of multiple factors, including a lack of desirable roadway safety features, longer emergency vehicle response times, and the higher speeds traveled on rural roads compared to urban roads.

  • Rural roads are more likely than urban roads to have roadway features that reduce safety, including narrow lanes, limited shoulders, sharp curves, exposed hazards, pavement drop-offs, steep slopes and limited clear zones along roadsides.
  • Because many rural routes have been constructed over a period of years, they often have inconsistent design features for such things as lane widths, curves, shoulders and clearance zones along roadsides.
  • Rural roads are more likely than urban roads to be two-lane routes. Eighty-six percent of the nation’s rural non-freeway arterial roads have two-lanes, compared to 56 percent of urban non-freeway arterial routes.
  • Rural roads are more likely than urban roads to have narrow lanes. A desirable lane width for collector and arterial roadways is at least 11 feet. Twenty-three percent of rural collector and arterial roads have lane widths of 10 feet or less, compared to 18 percent of urban collector and arterial roads.
  • Most head-on crashes on rural, non-Interstate roads are likely caused by a motorist making an unintentional maneuver as a result of driver fatigue, being distracted or driving too fast in a curve.
  • While driver behavior is a significant factor in traffic crash rates, both safety belt usage and impaired driving rates are similar in their involvement rate as a factor in urban and rural traffic crashes.

Many roadway safety improvements can be made to reduce serious crashes and traffic fatalities. These improvements are designed largely to keep vehicles from leaving the correct lane and to reduce the consequences of a vehicle leaving the roadway. Making needed roadway safety improvements would result in a significant reduction in traffic fatalities and serious injuries. 

  • The U.S. has a $146 billion backlog in needed roadway safety improvements, according to a 2017 report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The report found implementing these cost-effective and needed roadway safety improvements on U.S. roadways would save approximately 63,700 lives and reduce the number of serious injuries as a result of traffic crashes by approximately 350,000 over 20 years.
  • The type of safety design improvements that are appropriate for a section of rural road will depend partly on the nature of the safety problem on that section of road and the amount of funding available.
  • Low-cost safety improvements include installing rumble strips along the centerline and sides of roads, improving signage and pavement/lane markings including higher levels of retroreflectivity, installing lighting, removing or shielding roadside obstacles, using chevrons and post-mounted delineators to indicate roadway alignment along curves, adding skid-resistant surfaces at curves, and upgrading or adding guardrails.
  • Moderate-cost improvements include adding turn lanes at intersections, resurfacing pavements and adding median barriers.
  • Moderate to high-cost improvements include improving roadway alignment, reducing the angle of curves, widening lanes, converting conventional intersections to roundabouts, adding or paving shoulders, adding intermittent passing lanes, or adding a third or fourth lane.
  • Systemic installation of cost-effective safety solutions and devices in rural areas helps to improve safety not just by targeting individual safety problem points on a road, but also making entire segments safer by improving those roadway segments that exhibit the characteristics that typically result in fatal or serious-injury crashes.

RURAL TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGES: DEFICIENT ROAD AND BRIDGE CONDITIONS

The nation’s rural roads, highways, and bridges have significant deficiencies and deterioration. Fourteen percent of the nation’s rural roads have pavements in poor condition, and nearly one-in-ten of the nation’s rural bridges need rehabilitation, repair or replacement.

  • In 2017, 15 percent of the nation’s major rural roads (arterials and collectors) were rated in poor condition, 21 percent were rated in mediocre condition, 17 percent were rated in fair condition and 47 percent were rated in good condition.
  • The chart below ranks the 25 states with the greatest percentage of rural roads in poor condition in 2017. Rural pavement conditions for all states can be found in Appendix D.

  • In 2018, nine percent of the nation’s rural bridges were rated as poor/structurally deficient. Forty-six percent of rural bridges were rated fair and forty-six percent of rural bridges were rated in good condition. A bridge is rated poor/structurally deficient if there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Poor/structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including commercial trucks, agricultural equipment, school buses, and emergency services vehicles.  A fair rating indicates that a bridge’s structural elements are sound but minor deterioration has occurred to the bridge’s deck, substructure or superstructure.
  • The chart below ranks the 25 states with the highest share of rural bridges rated poor/structurally deficient in 2018. Rural bridge conditions for all states can be found in Appendix E.

TRANSPORTATION OPPORTUNITIES IN RURAL AMERICA

America must adopt transportation policies that improve rural transportation connectivity, safety and conditions to provide the nation’s small communities and rural areas with a level of safe and efficient access that will support the quality of life and enhance economic productivity. TRIP recommends the following for an improved rural transportation system, based partially on findings and recommendations made by AASHTO, the National Highway Cooperative Research Program (NCHRP), the Council of State Governments (CSG) and the Ports-to-Plains Alliance.

Improve access and connectivity in America’s small communities and rural areas

  • Widen and extend key highway routes, including Interstates, to increase connectivity to smaller and emerging communities to facilitate access to jobs, education, and healthcare, while improving access for agriculture, energy, manufacturing, forestry, tourism and other critical segments of the rural economy.
  • An NCHRP report found that the construction of an additional 30,000 lane miles of limited access highways, largely along existing corridors, is needed to address the nation’s need for increased rural connectivity.
  • Modernize major two-lane roads and highways so they can accommodate increased personal and commercial travel.
  • Improve public transit service in rural America to provide improved mobility for people without access to private vehicles.

Improve rural traffic safety

  • Adequately fund needed rural roadway safety improvements and provide enhanced enforcement, education and improved emergency response to reduce the rate of rural traffic fatalities.
  • Implement cost-effective roadway safety improvements, including rumble strips, shoulder improvements, lane widening, curve reductions, skid-resistant surfaces at curves, passing lanes, intersection improvements and improved signage, pavement markings and lighting, guardrails and barriers, and improved shielding of obstacles.

Improve the condition of rural roads, highways, and bridges

  • Adequately fund local and state transportation programs to ensure sufficient preservation of rural roads, highways, and bridges to maintain transportation service and accommodate large truck travel, which is needed to support the rural economy.

FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION FUNDING

America’s ability to address its rural transportation challenges would be greatly enhanced if Congress is able to provide a long-term, dedicated, user-based revenue stream capable of fully funding the federal surface transportation program.  The current five-year federal surface transportation program includes modest funding increases and provides states with greater funding certainty, but falls far short of providing the level of funding needed to meet the nation’s highway and transit needs.

  • The USDOT report found that the nation’s current $105 billion investment in roads, highways, and bridges by all levels of government should be increased by 35 percent to $142.5 billion annually to improve the conditions of roads, highways and bridges, relieve traffic congestion, and improve traffic safety.

 All data used in this report is the most current available. Sources of information for this report include: The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Council of State Governments (CSG) and the U.S. Census Bureau. 

TRIP Report: PRESERVING THE MOBILITY AND SAFETY OF OLDER AMERICANS

Executive Summary

Today’s older Americans enjoy a level of mobility and an active lifestyle that far outpaces previous generations. Demographic trends indicate that the number and proportion of older Americans have increased dramatically in recent years and will continue to do so. The provision of transportation improvements that will make it easier for older American’s to maintain their mobility will benefit users of all ages. And anticipated developments in self-driving and connected vehicles have the potential to provide older Americans with additional mobility options in the future.

As the number and proportion of older drivers increases, roadway safety improvements designed to make it easier for older drivers to navigate traffic are becoming increasingly important, as older Americans grapple with the effects of aging while trying to maintain a level of mobility that matches their active lifestyle.

This report explores mobility and safety issues for older Americans and presents a set of recommendations for implementing a transportation system that can better serve the safety and mobility needs of older Americans and the population at large.

older American demographics

Older Americans form a significant proportion of the overall population and a rapidly increasing number and share of licensed drivers. The number and proportion of older Americans is expected to increase dramatically in the coming years.

  • An estimated 46 million Americans are 65 or older, accounting for 15 percent of the total population. By 2060, the number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to more than double to over 98 million, and the proportion of the total population over 65 will rise to nearly 24 percent.
  • The number and proportion of licensed drivers 65 or older has surged in the last decade. From 2006 to 2016, the number of licensed drivers 65 or older has increased 38 percent – from 30.1 million in 2006 to 41.7 million in 2016. The proportion of licensed drivers 65 or older has risen from 15 percent in 2006 to 17 percent in 2012 to 19 percent in 2016.
  • The number of all licensed drivers in the U.S. increased by nine percent from 2006 to 2016 from 202.8 million to 221.7 million and the number of licensed drivers less than 65 increased by four percent from 2006 to 2016 from 172.7 million to 180 million.
  • The number of licensed drivers who are 65 or older increased by 16 percent from 2012 to 2016.
  • The number of all licensed drivers increased by five percent from 2012 to 2016 and the number of licensed drivers less than 65 increased by two percent from 2012 to 2016.
  • California, Florida, Texas, New York and Pennsylvania lead the nation in the number of licensed drivers 65 and older. West Virginia, Florida, Maine, Vermont and Arkansas lead the nation in the proportion of licensed drivers who are 65 years or older. Louisiana, Arkansas, South Carolina, Tennessee and Hawaii have seen the greatest increases in the number of licensed drivers in the last five years. The chart below details the 20 states with the highest number of licensed drivers 65 and older, the highest proportion of licensed drivers 65 and older, and the states with the largest increase in the number of licensed drivers 65 and older from 2012 to 2016. Data for all 50 states can be found in the appendix.

FATALITY AND CRASH RATES AMONG OLDER DRIVERS

The number of older drivers killed or involved in fatal crashes has increased significantly in the last five years, partly due to the increasing number of older drivers and the larger share of drivers who are 65 and older.

  • From 2012 to 2016, there was a 22 percent increase in the number of fatalities in crashes involving at least one driver 65 or older. The number of drivers 65 or older killed in crashes increased 21 percent from 2012 to 2016. Data for all 50 states, as well as a comparison to 2012, can be found in the appendix.
  • The overall number of traffic fatalities in the U.S. increased 11 percent from 2012 to 2016, from 33,782 to 37,461 fatalities.
  • The chart below details the 20 states with the highest number of traffic fatalities in crashes involving at least one driver age 65 or older in 2016, as well as the states with the highest proportion of fatalities in crashes involving at least one driver 65 or older.

 

  • The chart below details the 20 states with the greatest increase between 2012 and 2016 in the number of fatalities in crashes involving at least one driver 65 or older. Nationwide, fatalities in crashes involving at least one driver 65 or older increased 22 percent from 2012 to 2016.

  • The chart below details the 20 states with the highest number of drivers 65 and older killed in traffic crashes in 2016. Data for all 50 states, as well as a comparison to 2012, can be found in the appendix.

OLDER DRIVER MOBILITY AND QUALITY OF LIFE

Older Americans are more mobile and active than ever and want to maintain that lifestyle for as long as possible. Private vehicles remain the overwhelming transportation mode of choice for older Americans. The level of mobility enjoyed by older Americans is closely tied to their quality of life.

  • For those 65 and older, 90 percent of travel takes place in a private vehicle, and for Americans 85 and older, 80 percent of travel occurs in a private vehicle.
  • The majority of older Americans – 79 percent- tend to live in car-dependent suburban and rural communities, which typically require frequent, longer distance trips by automobile.      Because they tend to limit their driving to non-peak hours (typically 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.), older drivers are disproportionately affected by growing levels of congestion. Their window of opportunity for travel narrows considerably as morning and evening rush hours become longer and midday congestion continues to grow.
  • Many older drivers report self-regulating their driving by traveling only on familiar routes during daylight hours, avoiding left turns and sticking to less complex roads with lower traffic volumes during off-peak travel times.
  • More than 600,000 people aged 70 or older stop driving each year and become dependent on others to meet their transportation needs. Men typically outlive their driving days by seven years and women by ten years.
  • Compared with older drivers, older non-drivers in the U.S. make 15 percent fewer trips to the doctor, 59 percent fewer shopping trips and restaurant trips, and 65 percent fewer trips for social, family and religious activities.

CHALLENGES FOR OLDER DRIVERS

Certain situations and driving environments can be especially challenging or hazardous for older motorists. The higher instance of fatalities among older drivers is largely attributable to the physical fragility that makes surviving a crash less likely than younger drivers.

  • Beginning at age 65, the primary danger facing older drivers is their physical fragility, making older drivers much more likely to die when they do crash.
  • Compared to experienced middle-aged drivers, research has found that 60-95 percent of the elevated fatality rates per mile driven for older drivers can be attributed to the fragility that makes surviving a crash more difficult. By comparison, for drivers younger than 20, over-involvement in crashes accounts for more than 95 percent of their excess fatality rates compared with middle-aged drivers.
  • On average, drivers in their mid- to late-eighties have lower crash rates per miles driven than drivers in their early twenties, and roughly half the crash rates of teenagers.
  • In the face of elevated risks, older drivers tend to be very responsible on the road, with a higher rate of seatbelt use than younger drivers, greater avoidance of higher-risk driving environments (such as at night or in rain), and a lower likelihood to drink and drive or be otherwise impaired.
  • As people age, their eyesight, reaction time, cognitive ability and muscle dexterity may deteriorate, often making the tasks associated with driving more difficult. Aging may also limit a body’s range of motion, making it more difficult to scan all directions for nearby vehicles or potential hazards. 
  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2016, 37 percent of all fatal crashes where at least one driver was aged 65 or older occurred at an intersection or were related to an intersection. However, for fatal crashes where no driver was aged 65 or older, only 20 percent were at an intersection or intersection related.
  • In 2015 74 percent of traffic fatalities in crashes involving older drivers occurred during the daytime, 70 percent occurred on weekdays, and 67 percent involved other vehicles. This is compared to all fatalities in 2015, where 49 percent occurred during the daytime, 59 percent on weekdays, and 44 percent involved another vehicle
  • Left-hand turns are more problematic for older drivers, as they must make speed, distance and gap judgments simultaneously to enter or cross the through roadway.
  • Deteriorated vision among older drivers may make small or complex road signage difficult to process. Signs may be misunderstood or not seen quickly enough to caution older drivers about upcoming exits, obstacles or changes in traffic patterns. The amount of light needed by drivers doubles every 13 years, starting at age 20. A 72-year-old needs 16 times the amount of light required by a 20-year-old to drive safely.

DRIVING ALTERNATIVES FOR OLDER AMERICANS

Older drivers who decide to give up the keys still have options available for maintaining their mobility, though some may come with challenges or drawbacks. Advancements in self-driving and connected vehicle technology may eventually allow older Americans to retain the convenience of private vehicle travel after they are no longer able to drive.

TRANSIT

  • While public transit offers an alternative to driving, for older Americans, public transit accounts for just two percent of trips.
  • Older Americans may be reluctant to use transit options because they may have difficulty getting from home to the transit pick-up, or from the transit drop off to their ultimate destination. Crowding, long waits and the physical challenges of boarding a bus may also deter older travelers from using available transit options.
  • A significant proportion of older Americans live in rural areas, where transit options may not be readily available. Seventy percent of Americans over fifty live where transit does not exist or serves the area very poorly.
  • Transit systems can be improved to better accommodate older Americans as well as the population at large. These improvements include expanded bus routes; transit vehicles, stops or facilities that better accommodate older or physically challenged passengers; and, additional non-traditional and private sector approaches to transit, including formal and informal ridesharing and taxi services.

RIDE SHARING SERVICES

  • Ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft can help older Americans maintain their mobility if they are no longer driving. Ridesharing services allow a passenger to use a smartphone app to set a specific pick-up and drop-off point for their trip and summon a private vehicle driven by its owner to complete the trip. However, ride-sharing services often require the use of smartphones, yet less than one -third of Americans over age 65 own a smartphone.
  • Ride-sharing services may not be available or may be limited in rural areas, where many older Americans live.

SELF-DRIVING AND CONNECTED VEHICLES

  • Advances in automotive technology include self-driving vehicles, which do not require the driver to be in control of the vehicle, and connected vehicles, which recognize potential collision situations and allow for crash avoidance through communication between nearby vehicles.
  • Approximately 94 percent of crashes involve human error. Advanced vehicle technology can be of particular assistance to older drivers as it addresses the deficits that may impact motorists as they age. These include identifying vehicles or objects in blind spots, intersection navigation, left turn assist, early warning when vehicles ahead slow or brake suddenly, or warnings when it is not safe to change lanes or pass another vehicle. While these technologies can provide warnings that help drivers avoid a collision, they may also increase distractions behind the wheel.
  • For those who have completely stopped driving, self-driving vehicles may offer the ability to regain their mobility in a private vehicle. However, the timeline for the widespread use of self-driving and connected vehicles is uncertain, and their adoption by older drivers may be slower than that of the general population.
  • In addition to the long timeframe for potential widespread adoption of self-driving vehicles, other uncertainties about the technology still exist, including: the relatively early stage of research and deployment of self-driving technology outside tightly controlled environments, questions about human interactions with the technology, and the potential detriment of overreliance on self-driving technology.
  • While widespread use and adoption of self-driving vehicles may not happen in the near future, many vehicles are already equipped with technological features that are found in self-driving cars. These include adaptive cruise control and headlights; backup and parking assist; blind spot, forward collision and lane departure warning systems; navigation assistance; and integrated Bluetooth capabilities for cell phones. Research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that nearly 60 percent of older drivers surveyed had at least one advanced technology in their primary vehicle.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVING MOBILITY AND SAFETY FOR OLDER AMERICANS

The following set of recommendations can improve the mobility and safety of older Americans. These improvements will also improve mobility and safety for all motorists.

SAFER ROADS:

  • Clearer, brighter and simpler signage with larger lettering, including overhead indicators for turning lanes and overhead street signs. This should include minimum levels of retroreflectivity.
  • Brighter street lighting, particularly at intersections, and bright, retroreflective pavement markings. Studies also show that increasing the width of pavement markings from 4 inches to 6 inches helps with decreasing lane departure and crashes, especially with older drivers.
  • Where appropriate, widening or adding left-turn lanes and increasing the length of merge or exit lanes.
  • Where appropriate, replacing intersections with roundabouts can eliminate left turns and slow the speed of traffic through an intersection, both of which address common challenges among older drivers.
  • Where appropriate, widening lanes and shoulders to reduce the consequence of driving mistakes.
  • Adding rumble strips to warn motorists when they are leaving the roadway.
  • Making roadway curves more gradual and easier to navigate.
  • Where appropriate, design and operate roads to accommodate all users of the roadway.
  • Adding countdown pedestrian signals and leading pedestrian intervals, which allow for additional time for pedestrians in the intersection before cars get a green light.
  • Adding refuge islands for pedestrians at intersections.
  • Highway network and transportation system planning, design, maintenance, and operations functions are all likely to require adaptation to meet technical, policy, and legal expectations of a changing vehicle fleet that is technologically connected to other vehicles and the roadway itself.

SAFER ROAD USERS

  • Promotion of education and training programs for older drivers.
  • Raising awareness among older drivers of appropriate safety precautions and seat belt use.

SAFER VEHICLES:

  • Implementing self-driving and connected vehicle technology and the inclusion of additional safety features on new vehicles to address the deficits drivers may face as they age.
  • Improving crashworthiness of vehicles to better protect occupants and withstand impacts.
  • Development of Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) technologies, including crash avoidance technologies.

IMPROVED TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS

  • Ensuring public transit vehicles, facilities and stops are easily accessible and accommodating to elderly or disabled passengers.
  • Expanding bus and transit routes.
  • Implementing non-traditional and public sector approaches that are tailored to the needs of older adults, including ridesharing, volunteer driving programs, door-to-door community transportation services, taxi services, and vehicle donation.

    CONCLUSION

    Older Americans represent an increasing share of the nation’s population and of its licensed drivers. As they strive to maintain the active and fulfilling lifestyles to which they have become accustomed, the nation’s transportation system will need to be improved to accommodate them. Providing transportation improvements that will make it easier for older American’s to maintain their mobility benefits users of all ages.

    For older Americans, as well as the population in general, the ability to travel represents freedom, activity, and choice. Older Americans prize their mobility and active lifestyles and want to maintain them as long as possible, often by maintaining their ability to drive.

    Improvements in roadway design, additional highway safety features, expanded transportation options, driver education and the development of self-driving and connected vehicles can help older Americans maintain their mobility in a safe manner while also providing significant benefits to the larger traveling public.

For full report visit: www.tripnet.org

All data used in this report is the most current available. Sources of information for this report include: The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), ChORUS (Clearinghouse for Older Road User Safety), AAA, The Brookings Institution, Monash University, AARP Public Policy Institute; the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety(IIHS) and the U.S. Census Bureau.

TRIP_Older_Americans_Mobility_Report_Appendix_FINAL_3-13-18

TRIP Reports: Despite Recent Transportation Funding Increase, Michigan Road And Bridge Conditions Continue, $3.3 Billion In Needed Transportation Improvements

TRIP Reports on Michigan Roads & Bridges

Despite Recent Transportation Funding Increase, Michigan Road And Bridge Conditions Continue To Deteriorate And Traffic Fatalities And Traffic Congestion Are Increasing. A Total Of $3.3 Billion In Needed Transportation Improvement Projects Still Lack Funding

Increased transportation funding provided by Michigan’s legislature in 2015 will allow the state to move forward with numerous projects to repair and improve portions of its transportation system; however, the funding is not sufficient to prevent further deterioration of the state’s roads and bridges or to move forward with $3.3 billion in needed projects, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.

The TRIP report, Modernizing Michigan’s Transportation System: Progress and Challenges in Providing Safe, Efficient and Well-maintained Roads, Highways and Bridges,” finds that even with the additional transportation funding- which is not guaranteed beginning in 2019 – state pavement and bridge conditions will decline. Traffic fatalities in Michigan increased significantly in the last two years and the state has experienced the eleventh highest rate of increase in vehicle miles of travel since 2013.

As a result of the funding increase passed in 2015, state funding for local roads and bridges, state roads and bridges and transit will increase from $2.2 billion in 2015 to nearly $3.4 billion in 2023. The legislation will provide a total of $4.2 billion in additional funding through 2023, of which $2.3 billion from the General Fund is not guaranteed and will be distributed at the discretion of the legislature beginning in 2019.

And, despite the recent infusion of funding, Michigan’s state-maintained roads and bridges are expected to continue to deteriorate. The condition of state-maintained roads is projected to deteriorate significantly over the next five years, with the share of lane miles in poor condition increasing from 20 percent in 2016 to 46 percent by 2020. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) estimates that, based on available funding, the number of state-maintained bridges rated in poor condition will increase by 50 percent between 2016 and 2023.

“This report stresses the critical need of the region to improve its transportation infrastructure,” said Brad Williams, vice president of government relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber. “As one of our 2017 legislative priorities, the Detroit Regional Chamber is committed to supporting the efforts by federal officials to increase investment in all forms of infrastructure.”

Vehicle travel in Michigan has increased by 10 percent between 2013 and 2016 – the 11th highest rate of travel growth among states during this period. Michigan has also experienced a significant increase in traffic fatalities over the last two years, increasing 20 percent between 2014 and 2016. In 2016 traffic fatalities surpassed 1,000 for the first time since 2007. There were 876 traffic fatalities on Michigan’s roads in 2014, 963 in 2015 and 1,047 in 2016.

“To continue our economic growth, the industries that drive Michigan need a well-maintained and dependable infrastructure network,” said Josh Lunger, director of government affairs for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. “This report shows the significance of the 2015 transportation funding package, and how critical it is that the Legislature make these commitments a top priority.”

The following statewide projects are either underway or will be underway or completed by 2020, partly due to increased transportation revenue in the state. The report also lists projects in Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids.

“This report highlights the critical need to invest more in our transportation infrastructure,” said Tim Daman, president and CEO of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce (LRCC). “Better roads save drivers money and enhance our economic competitiveness. Thriving cities have infrastructure in place to support business and economic growth. That’s why improving our transportation infrastructure is a top priority for the LRCC.”

The chart below details projects outside the state’s largest urban areas that will not move forward prior to 2020 due to a lack of transportation funding. The report also includes projects in Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids.

   “Michigan’s legislature took an important step in 2015 towards improving the condition of the transportation system and setting the state back on the road to economic recovery,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP. “While that was a good start, numerous needed improvements remain unfunded. Adequate investment in Michigan’s transportation system is a critical component in the state’s economic comeback.”

Executive Summary

Nine years after the nation suffered a significant economic downturn, Michigan is beginning to recover, with its population and economy starting to grow again and vehicle travel increasing in response to the growth. But, the rate of recovery could be slowed if Michigan is not able to provide a modern, well-maintained transportation system. The rate of economic growth, which will be greatly impacted by the reliability and condition of the state’s transportation system, continues to have a significant impact on quality of life in the Great Lakes State.

An efficient, safe and well-maintained transportation system provides economic and social benefits by affording individuals access to employment, housing, healthcare, education, goods and services, recreation, entertainment, family, and social activities. It also provides businesses with access to suppliers, markets and employees, all critical to a business’ level of productivity and ability to expand. Reduced accessibility and mobility – as a result of traffic congestion, a lack of adequate capacity, or deteriorated roads, highways, bridges and transit facilities – diminishes a region’s quality of life by reducing economic productivity and limiting opportunities for economic, health or social transactions and activities.

With an economy based largely on agriculture, manufacturing, technology, natural resource extraction, and tourism, the quality of Michigan’s transportation system plays a vital role in the state’s economic growth and quality of life.

In late 2015, Michigan’s governor signed into law a road funding package that relies on a combination of increased user fees, registration fees and general funds. While this increased funding will allow the state and local governments to move forward with numerous projects to repair and improve portions of the state’s transportation system, the funding is not sufficient to adequately address the significant deterioration of the system, or to allow the state to provide many of the transportation improvements that are needed to support economic growth.

Achieving the state’s goals for a modern, well-maintained and safe transportation system will require “staying the course” with Michigan’s current transportation program and doubling down on this effort by obtaining additional increases in transportation investment.

POPULATION, ECONOMIC AND TRAVEL TRENDS IN MICHIGAN

Michigan’s economy is beginning to recover following the Great Recession, with population, employment levels and vehicle travel approaching or surpassing pre-recession levels. The level of access and mobility will be a key factor in rebooting and growing the state’s struggling economy.

  • Michigan’s population is again growing and nearing pre-recession levels after beginning to fall in 2005 and dropping each year until 2011. The state’s population has increased each year from 2011 to 2016 and is currently at 9.9 million residents.
  • Michigan has approximately 7.1 million licensed drivers.
  • After falling significantly during the recession, vehicle miles of travel (VMT) have surpassed pre-recession levels and continue to increase.
  • Between 2013 and 2016, vehicle miles of travel in Michigan increased by 10 percent – the 11th highest rate of increase nationally.
  • Michigan’s unemployment rate has returned to pre-recession levels. After beginning to rise in 2005 and peaking at 14.9 percent in mid-2009, the state’s unemployment is currently 4.9 percent.

ROAD CONDITIONS IN MICHIGAN

A lack of adequate funding has left one-fifth of Michigan’s state-maintained roads and highways with pavement surfaces in poor condition. Despite recent action by Michigan lawmakers to increase transportation funding, the condition of state-maintained roads is projected to deteriorate significantly over the next five years.

  • The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) estimates that 20 percent of state-maintained roads are in poor condition in 2016.
  • Despite the increased funding made available by Michigan lawmakers, the condition of state-maintained roads is projected to deteriorate significantly over the next five years. While the additional funding has been helpful and has prevented a more precipitous decline in conditions, it is not sufficient to improve the condition of the state’s roads and highways or even maintain their current condition.
  • The number of lane miles of state-maintained roads in poor condition is projected to increase significantly in the next five years, with the share of lane miles in poor condition increasing from 20 percent in 2016 to 46 percent by 2020.

BRIDGE CONDITIONS IN MICHIGAN

Approximately one-in-nine locally and state-maintained bridges in Michigan that are 20 feet or more in length show significant deterioration and are in need of repair.  The share of state bridges that are deficient is expected to increase at current funding levels.

  • Eleven percent of Michigan’s bridges are structurally deficient. A bridge is structurally deficient if there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including commercial trucks and emergency services vehicles.
  • MDOT estimates that, based on available funding, the number of state-maintained bridges rated in poor condition will increase by approximately 50 percent from 236 bridges to 354 bridges between 2016 and 2023.

HIGHWAY SAFETY AND FATALITY RATES IN MICHIGAN

Traffic fatalities in Michigan have increased significantly for the last two years, surpassing 1,000 deaths in 2016, the first time since 2007.

  • The number of traffic fatalities in Michigan increased 20 percent from 2014 to 2016. In Michigan, there were 876 traffic fatalities in 2014, 963 in 2015 and 1,047 in 2016.
  • 2016 was the first year since 2007 that traffic fatalities in Michigan exceeded 1,000.
  • The fatality rate on Michigan’s non-interstate rural roads in 2015 was more than three-and-a-half times than on all other roads in the state (2.19 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.59).
  • Roadway features that impact safety include the number of lanes, lane widths, lighting, lane markings, rumble strips, shoulders, guard rails, other shielding devices, median barriers and intersection design. The cost of serious crashes includes lost productivity, lost earnings, medical costs and emergency services.
  • Several factors are associated with vehicle crashes that result in fatalities, including driver behavior, vehicle characteristics and roadway features. TRIP estimates that roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of fatal traffic crashes.
  • Where appropriate, highway improvements can reduce traffic fatalities and crashes while improving traffic flow to help relieve congestion. Such improvements include removing or shielding obstacles; adding or improving medians and intersections; improved lighting; adding rumble strips, wider lanes, wider and paved shoulders; upgrading roads from two lanes to four lanes; and better road markings and traffic signals.
  • Investments in rural traffic safety have been found to result in significant reductions in serious traffic crashes. A 2012 report by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) found that improvements completed recently by the Texas Department of Transportation that widened lanes, improved shoulders and made other safety improvements on 1,159 miles of rural state roadways resulted in 133 fewer fatalities on these roads in the first three years after the improvements were completed (as compared to the three years prior).   TTI estimates that the improvements on these roads are likely to save 880 lives over 20 years.

TRANSPORTATION FUNDING AND NEEDED TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS Additional transportation funding provided by the state legislature in 2016 will allow MDOT to complete numerous needed projects throughout the state. While the additional dollars have been helpful, many needed projects still remain on the drawing board due to a lack of available funding.

  • In late 2015, Michigan’s governor signed into law a road funding package that relies on a combination of increased user fees, such as gas taxes and registration fees and allocations from the General Fund.
  • As a result of the funding increase, state funding for local roads and bridges, state roads and bridges and transit will increase from $2.2 billion in 2015 to nearly $3.4 billion in 2023. The chart below details the amount (in millions) of state funding for local roads and bridges, state roads and bridges and transit.
  • The 2015 transportation legislation will provide a total of $4.2 billion in additional funding through 2023, of which $2.3 billion from the state’s General Fund is not guaranteed and will be distributed beginning in 2019 at the discretion of the legislature.
  • Additional transportation funding provided by the 2015 legislation will allow Michigan to move forward with numerous projects that otherwise may have remained unfunded. The list below details a sampling of projects in Michigan’s major urban areas as well as throughout the state that are either underway or will be underway or completed no later than 2020, partly due to increased revenue.
  • Despite additional transportation funding provided by the 2015 legislation, numerous needed transportation projects in Michigan remain unfunded. The list below details projects in Michigan’s major urban areas as well as throughout the state that lack adequate funding to proceed prior to 2020.
  • The value of these needed transportation projects in Michigan that lack adequate funding to proceed is $3.3 billion, including $2 billion in the Detroit area, $483 million in the Lansing area and $234 million in the Grand Rapids area.

FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION FUNDING IN MICHIGAN

Investment in Michigan’s roads, highways and bridges is funded by local, state and federal governments. Signed into law in December 2015, the five-year federal surface transportation program includes modest funding increases and provides states with greater funding certainty, but falls far short of providing the level of funding needed to meet the nation’s highway and transit needs. The bill does not include a long-term and sustainable revenue source.

  • Signed into law in December 2015, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), provides modest increases in federal highway and transit spending, allows states greater long-term funding certainty and streamlines the federal project approval process. But the FAST Act does not provide adequate funding to meet the nation’s need for highway and transit improvements and does not include a long-term and sustainable funding source.
  • The five-year, $305 billion FAST Act will provide approximately a 15 percent boost in national highway funding and an 18 percent boost in national transit funding over the duration of the program, which expires in 2020.
  • In addition to federal motor fuel tax revenues, the FAST Act will also be funded by $70 billion in U.S. general funds, which will rely on offsets from several unrelated federal programs including the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the Federal Reserve and U.S. Customs.
  • According to the 2015 AASHTO Transportation Bottom Line Report, a significant boost in investment in the nation’s roads, highways, bridges and public transit systems is needed to improve their condition and to meet the nation’s transportation needs.
  • AASHTO’s report found that based on an annual one percent increase in VMT annual investment in the nation’s roads, highways and bridges needs to increase 36 percent, from $88 billion to $120 billion, to improve conditions and meet the nation’s mobility needs, based on an annual one percent rate of vehicle travel growth. Investment in the nation’s public transit system needs to increase from $17 billion to $43 billion.
  • The Bottom Line Report found that if the national rate of vehicle travel increased by 1.4 percent per year, the needed annual investment in the nation’s roads, highways and bridges would need to increase by 64 percent to $144 billion. If vehicle travel grows by 1.6 percent annually the needed annual investment in the nation’s roads, highways and bridges would need to increase by 77 percent to $156 billion.

TRANSPORTATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH IN MICHIGAN

The efficiency of Michigan’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Businesses rely on an efficient and dependable transportation system to move products and services. A key component in business efficiency and success is the level and ease of access to customers, markets, materials and workers.

  • Annually, $860 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Michigan, mostly by truck.
  • Seventy percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in Michigan are carried by trucks.
  • Increasingly, companies are looking at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to re-locate or expand. Regions with congested or poorly maintained roads may see businesses relocate to areas with a smoother, more efficient and more modern transportation system.
  • Highway accessibility was ranked the number two site selection factor behind only the availability of skilled labor in a 2015 survey of corporate executives by Area Development Magazine.
  • The Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements results in an average benefit of $5.20 in the form of reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced road and bridge maintenance costs and reduced emissions as a result of improved traffic flow.

Sources of information for this report include the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U. S. Census Bureau, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO),the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). All data used in the report are the most recent available.