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State Safety Office

State Safety Office / Strategic Highway Safety / Lane Departure Crashes

Lane Departure Crashes

Picture of Crosswalk Sign

Background

Lane departure crashes include running off the road, crossing the center median into an oncoming lane of traffic, and sideswipe crashes. Running off the road may also involve a rollover or hitting a fixed object. Head-on collisions are related to crashes involving departure from the roadway. One of the most severe types of crashes occurs when a vehicle crosses into an opposing traffic lane and crashes head on with an oncoming vehicle. Nationally, this type of severe crash occurs primarily on rural two-lane roadways and limited access roadways with narrow medians. The severity of these crashes is compounded by the additive nature of vehicle speeds at the time of collision, especially when vehicles collide with other vehicles traveling toward them as opposed to stationary objects. When a vehicle leaves the roadway, the result is often disastrous.

In Florida, nearly 39 percent of statewide traffic fatalities can be attributed to lane departure crashes. Fatalities and serious injuries related to lane departure crashes have declined since 2006. In 2008, the definition of lane departure was modified to exclude at-intersection or influenced-by-intersection crashes. The new criteria are crashes not at or influenced by intersection, involving any contributing cause driver of improper passing or driving wrong side/way, or event of head on, sideswipe, collision with parked car, hit a fixed object (except traffic gates and fixed objects above the road), hit construction barricade, hit crash attenuators, ran into ditch/culver, ran off road into water, overturned, or crossed median. The change in definition is related to the decline in lane departure fatalities and serious injuries while transitioning from 2007 to 2008. However, even if the previous definition were to be used, there continues to be a decline in the number of lane departure crashes.

To reduce the serious injuries and fatalities resulting from lane departures, efforts must be made to keep vehicles from leaving the road or crossing the center median, reduce the likelihood of vehicles overturning or crashing into roadside objects, and minimize the severity of an overturn.

Strategies

  1. Improve law enforcement practices to better capture data related to lane departure crashes;
  2. Increase public education to reduce lane departure crashes;
  3. Improve engineering practices to reduce lane departure crashes; and
  4. Partner with emergency responders to reduce severity of lane departure crashes.

Team Members

  • American Traffic Safety Services Association/Florida Chapter
  • Florida Department of Transportation
  • Florida Highway Patrol
  • Florida Sheriffs Association
  • Florida Department of Education
  • Federal Highway Administration
  • Gainesville Police Department