Maximizing the mobility of people and goods depends upon making the transportation system as safe as possible. Traffic crashes produce not only personal tragedy, but increased burdens on the region due to medical and insurance costs, lost production potential, and delay of other drivers and freight.

SEMCOG can help member communities improve traffic safety by:

  • Analyzing annual crash data to identify problems and promote effective solutions,
  • Providing assistance through road safety audits, and
  • Working with various safety partners to increase education and enforcement.

For more safety information:

Traffic Safety Manual

The SEMCOG Traffic Safety Manual assists traffic engineers, public works personnel, and others in analysis of roadway-related traffic safety problems.

It provides a set of user-friendly tools for checking a location's crash history, identifying possible crash causes and countermeasures, and conducting a preliminary benefit/cost analysis of those countermeasures selected for further consideration. Benefit/cost analysis is an economic tool for assessing and comparing possible countermeasures. For each countermeasure considered, it compares expected benefit to expected cost.

Purpose of the Traffic Safety Manual

This manual has been designed to aid in identifying:

  • Information relevant to safety analysis;
  • High-crash locations;
  • Significant crash patterns and generally related causes and countermeasures;
  • Default values for countermeasure service life, cost and effectiveness; and
  • Safety project benefit/cost ratios, for use in planning and budgeting.

In addition, many communities have witnessed a growing portion of their limited budgets consumed by the increasing litigation costs from crashes within their jurisdictions. The systematic use of this manual to develop traffic safety improvement priorities within available budgets is useful in defending against traffic crash litigation.

Using the Manual

This manual describes a comprehensive approach to traffic safety analysis, from collecting potentially useful information to ranking tentative solutions. The chapters are as follows:

Safe Routes to School

Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a national program to make it safe, convenient, and fun for children to bicycle and walk to school. When routes are safe, walking and biking to school is a fun, easy, and inexpensive way for students to get some of the daily physical activity they need for good health.

SR2S is a planning process (pdf, 65KB) where local stakeholders work together to 1) identify barriers to safe walking and bicycling to school, and 2) develop a plan to address those barriers using a combination of infrastructure and non-infrastructure treatments.

Goals of SRTS program

  • Encourage and enable school children, including children with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to and from school when distance is reasonable and routes are safe,
  • Make walking and bicycling routes to school safer,
  • Develop lifelong habits of physical activity, and
  • Reduce traffic and pollution around schools.

How does a SRTS program work?

A school forms a SRTS team consisting of school administrators, teachers, parents, student leaders, law enforcement officers, road authority representatives, local elected officials, and other community members who are interested in children's health and safety. The team then collects data from parents and students (through surveys) and in the built environment (through walking or bicycle audits). The team uses this data to guide development of a plan to make walking or biking to school a safer and more appealing transportation option.

What are the benefits of a SRTS program?

A successful Safe Routes to School program benefits children in several ways. When routes are safe, walking or biking to and from school is an easy way for children to get the regular physical activity they need for good health. Studies have shown that physically active kids have improved mood and concentration, a stronger self-image, and more self-confidence. Physically active kids also have fewer chronic health problems and report lower levels of smoking and alcohol consumption.

It's also fun! Research shows that walking or riding is a child's preferred method of getting to school. There's so much to see, smell, touch, think, and talk about. By walking with friends, children will build relationships and learn more about their neighborhood, their friends, and themselves.

Safe Routes to School initiatives help the environment by easing traffic jams and curbing air pollution. Research has shown that 25 percent of morning traffic is parents driving their students to school. Fewer car trips also mean lower gasoline bills, a significant factor with today's higher prices.

How can I start a SRTS program at my school?

The Safe Routes to School program is available to all schools with at least one grade in the K-8 range. High schools are not eligible for federal funding unless they include at least one grade in the K-8 range. The school can be public, charter, tribal or private.

  1. Register your school.
  2. Designate a Safe Routes to School coordinator.
  3. Build a SRTS planning team.
  4. Conduct student and parent surveys and in-class tallies.
  5. Conduct walking audits.
  6. Develop a SRTS action plan using surveys and audits.

What can the federal funds be spent on?
The statute identifies project types for each category as follows:

  • Infrastructure Projects
    • Sidewalks
    • Traffic calming and speed reduction
    • Pedestrian and bicycle crossing improvements
    • On-street and off-street bicycle facilities
    • Off-street pedestrian facilities
    • Traffic diversion improvements in the vicinity of schools
  • Non-infrastructure Projects
    • Activities to encourage walking and bicycling to school
    • Public awareness campaigns, community outreach
    • Traffic education
    • Traffic enforcement operations in the vicinity of schools
    • Student training sessions (bicycle and pedestrian safety, health, and environment)
    • Funding for training volunteers and managers of Safe Routes to School program

All projects or programs proposed for funding under the SRTS program must 1) increase student safety while walking and biking to school and/or 2) increase the number of students walking and biking to school.

How SEMCOG can help

Jump-start a program in your community by increasing your understanding of the National Safe Routes to School Program. SEMCOG can also provide data for your application including:

Contact: Kajal Patel to request a SRTS audit.

Additional Information on SRTS

Overview of SRTS - Michigan Fitness Foundation (pdf, 4.4MB)
How SEMCOG can assist in SRTS (pdf, 3.7MB)
SEMCOG SRTS Transportation Alternatives Program (pdf, 4.6MB)
SRTS Chelsea-Area Wellness Foundation (pdf, 566KB)
SRTS case study - Bennett Elementary SW Detroit (pdf, 4.4MB)
Safe Routes to School Michigan
National Center for Safe Routes to School
Michigan Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School
The Walking School Bus Program Training Modules

Alcohol-Related Crashes

Elderly Driver Safety

There were 18,799 elderly driver (ages 65 and older) crashes in Southeast Michigan in 2013 (up from 17,999 in 2012) and 74 fatalities (up from 69 in 2012). Per miles traveled, fatal crash rates increase starting at age 75 and increase markedly after age 80. Older drivers represent a significant and increasing portion of drivers in our region. At the onset of this increase in the number of older drivers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has developed a strategic plan (pdf, 285KB) to prepare for transportation safety needs. In addition, NHTSA and the American Society on Aging (ASA) have developed a toolkit to promote elderly driver safety and mobility.

For more information about elderly driver safety, visit:

High-Crash Locations

The first step in improving traffic safety and mobility in our region is to identify locations or areas where crash problems exist and where engineering, education, and enforcement measures will be most beneficial. Knowing these locations can help focus safety improvements on intersections, street segments, or communities where a high number of crashes have occurred.

For more information about high crash locations, visit:

Motorcycle Safety

There were 1,222 motorcycle crashes in Southeast Michigan in 2013 (down from 1,326 in 2012) and 51 fatalities. Motorcycle fatalities represented approximately 14 percent of all fatalities in 2013 for Southeast Michigan. Per mile traveled, the death rate for motorcyclists is nearly 40 times greater than for passenger-car occupants. Approximately 80 percent of motorcycle crashes result in injury or death in Southeast Michigan.

For more information about motorcycle safety, visit:

Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety

There were 1,280 pedestrian and 935 bicycle crashes in Southeast Michigan in 2013 (up from 1,244 and down from 936, respectively in 2012). There were 90 pedestrian and 10 bicycle fatalities. Pedestrian fatalities comprised about 25 percent, while bicycle fatalities are nearly three percent of all traffic fatalities in Southeast Michigan. Nearly 1,200 pedestrians and 753 bicyclists were injured in 2013.

For more information about pedestrian and bicycle safety, visit:

Vehicle-Deer Safety

There were 5,667 vehicle-deer crashes in Southeast Michigan in 2013 (up from 5,206 in 2012 and 5,443 in 2011). In 2013, there were two fatalities in Southeast Michigan involving deer compared to 12 fatalities in the state. Seven of the 12 people killed were motorcycle riders. To address motorcycle safety, the Michigan Deer Crash Coalition (MDCC) has developed special safety tips for motorcyclists.

SEMCOG reminds drivers to buckle up, stay awake, alert, and slow down – remembering that safety belts are the best defense in any collision. Also, be alert for deer in the spring and fall, especially at dawn and dusk – heeding deer crossing and speed limit signs, particularly on two-lane roads.

If a crash is unavoidable, SEMCOG cautions drivers not to swerve out of their lane to avoid deer. Instead, drivers should brake firmly while securely gripping the steering wheel to bring the car to a controlled stop. Then, safely steer your vehicle off to the side of the road.

Deer Crashes Top 10 List, by Community

Community County Total Deer Crashes,
3 years
Rochester Hills Oakland 430 143 1
Scio Twp. Washtenaw 355 118 2
Oakland Twp. Oakland 347 116 3
Oxford Twp. Oakland 329 110 4
Orion Twp. Oakland 297 99 5
Independence Twp. Oakland 270 90 6
Novi Oakland 257 86 7
Washington Twp. Macomb 230 77 8
Farmington Hills Oakland 227 76 9
Auburn Hills Oakland 224 75 10

Young Driver Safety

There were 44,460 young driver (ages 16-24) crashes in Southeast Michigan in 2013 (up from 43,127 in 2012) and 103 fatalities (down from 116 in 2012). According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), teen drivers have the highest crash risk of any age group. The crash rate per mile driven for 16-year-old drivers is almost 10 times the rate for drivers aged 30-59.

For more information about young driver safety, visit:

Red Light Running (RLR)

Red-light running is a significant factor in severe and fatal traffic crashes in southeast Michigan. SEMCOG is committed to helping its members improve traffic safety. In 2013, 41,712 traffic crashes occurred at signalized intersections throughout Southeast Michigan. Over eight percent, or 3,506 of these crashes involved red-light running. Ten of those crashes were fatal.

Red-Light Running Crash Trends, 2011-2013

Year RLR Crashes Fatalities
2011 3,505 7
2012 3,452 21
2013 3,506 10


Tips to Avoid Red-Light Running

  • If you are the first car in queue at a red signal, don't rush into the intersection when the signal changes from red to green. Take time to make sure cross traffic has stopped.

  • Stay aware of your surroundings and pay attention to the road. Drivers who are distracted by multi-tasking while driving have a higher chance of missing a yellow light and may drive through a red light.

  • If the signal is yellow, don't speed up to make it through the intersection. Instead, slow down and prepare to stop. Keep in mind that yellow signals vary in their timing and that not all traffic signals have all-red clearances (where all directions are red at the same time).

  • If the signal is red, come to a complete stop at the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection and only make right turns if permitted on red at the intersection. Know when it is safe to proceed through an intersection on a red signal after yielding to pedestrians and other traffic that has a green signal.

  • Vehicular traffic should always yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and bicyclists lawfully within an adjacent crosswalk and to other traffic lawfully using the intersection.

For more information on reducing red-light running:
Contact: Kajal Patel at SEMCOG.
U.S. Department of Transportation: FHWA Safety Program: Red-Light Running
National Stop on Red Week

Developing Regional Solutions
SEMCOG is a regional planning partnership of governmental units serving 4.7 million people in the seven-county region of Southeast Michigan striving to enhance the region's quality of life.