Members of the Franklin County Transportation Committee are forming a subcommittee to address the public safety of motorists and to implement the county highway safety plan adopted last year.
The first step for the public safety subcommittee was taken last May when Missouri Department of Transportation Area Engineer Judy Wagner explained the specific role the committee can play and criteria for member selection.
“The members should be a well-rounded group and represent each city,” Wagner said. “The Four E’s of transportation safety must be considered when selecting committee members.”
Wagner said those include: enforcement, education, engineering and emergency. She also said the committee members might not necessarily have to be a public official.
“You need to find people who are passionate about safety,” Wagner said. “Issues that are specific to transportation safety should be the focus. They can be anything from school crosswalks, train crossings, jogging or biking.”
Wagner also prompted the transportation committee to look at Jefferson County’s public safety committee as a blueprint.
County Highway Administrator Ron Williams presented a draft of bylaws and potential members to the group last week for their suggestions.
Williams’ recommendations for members included:
• Franklin County Highway Department Administrator;
• Representative of the Franklin County Commission;
• Representative of the Franklin County Sheriff Department;
• Franklin County Emergency Management Director;
• Representative of a municipal police department;
• Representative of a municipal fire department;
• Representative of a fire protection district; and
• Three members of the Franklin County Transportation Committee.
No official action was taken, but there was discussion about having a fire and police representative from each municipality represented on the transportation committee to allow the conveyance of particular safety concerns in those areas.
In May, when the idea was originally born, Williams said he would like to see the subcommittee be a small group of hyperfocused individuals to make communication and discussion easier.
“Things tend to get too unwieldy with too many members,” Williams said. “I have the outline for Jefferson’s committee and it also includes two ad hoc citizens at large.”
As of now, the public safety committee does not and will not have any real authority and all recommendations will have to be approved by the transportation committee and then passed on to the county commission.
At the meeting last week, county Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer said he would have a commission order drafted to give the public safety committee authority, but any actions and recommendations would still be passed up through the transportation committee.
The strategic safety plan, developed by the MoDOT, not only gives strategies for drivers to prevent fatal accidents, but also outlines steps the county highway department and cities can take to keep travelers safer.
It specifically addresses safety issues on county roads and city streets, not state highways.
The overall goal of the safety plan is “to save at least one life and prevent five serious injury crashes per year.”
The following are the main causes of fatalities on roads and streets in Franklin County:
• Aggressive driving, 70 percent;
• Roadway departure (running off road), 58 percent;
• Drugs or alcohol, 50 percent;
• Curves in the roadway, 46 percent;
• Unrestrained occupants, 42 percent;
• Young or distracted drivers, 33 percent;
• Intersections, 17 percent; and
• Collisions with trees, or other fixed objects, 23 percent.
“Some of these will not be easy fixes and some might be costly to implement and then maintain annually,” Williams said. “On the other hand, some of the countermeasures will be fairly easy to put in place.”