The Minnesota Department of Transportation received national honors Wednesday, Nov. 15,

for the success of its "Implementation of Data Driven Safety Solutions" program to reduce fatal crashes on county roads.

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Minnesota was one of nine states to receive the prestigious 2017 National Roadway Safety Award, a biannual awards program sponsored jointly by the Roadway Safety Foundation and the Federal Highway Administration.

The awards, which were presented in Washington D.C., recognize roadway safety achievements that move the U.S. toward zero deaths and serious injuries on the nation's roadways.

State crash data indicate that county roads account for half of all fatal crashes, even though they account for less than a quarter of vehicle miles traveled in the state. To address this, MnDOT and the Minnesota County Engineers Association collaborated with counties to develop county road safety plans for all 87 Minnesota counties, emphasizing low-cost, systemic improvements over high-cost reactive treatments.

"MnDOT is proud to work with counties to implement ways to reduce fatalities and serious injury crashes on county roads," said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. "We can't ever stop working to achieve zero deaths on our roads."

The county road safety plans contain 330 low-cost, proactive safety improvements on county roads that resulted in a 25 percent reduction in the county road fatality rate over the subsequent four years.

"The strong partnership and collaboration between MnDOT and Minnesota counties allowed us to develop safety plans and implement strategies that make our roads safe for all users," said Wayne Sandberg, Washington County engineer who accepted the award in Washington D.C.

Projects were evaluated on effectiveness, innovation and efficient use of resources. The program honors projects in two categories: infrastructure and operational improvements, and program planning, development and evaluation.

"These awards recognize real and innovative solutions to some of the nation's biggest safety challenges," said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Brandye L. Hendrickson. "We commend Minnesota for its efforts in saving lives and reducing injuries on our nation's roads, and invite others across the country to put such life-saving solutions to work."

"The National Roadway Safety Awards are an opportunity to recognize the unsung heroes who plan, engineer and implement creative measures to help save lives on a daily basis and rarely receive credit for doing so," said RSF Executive Director Gregory Cohen.

More information on the national awards program is at