© 2024 Wyoming Public Media
800-729-5897 | 307-766-4240
Wyoming Public Media is a service of the University of Wyoming
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Transmission & Streaming Disruptions

UW Researcher Shows Wyoming Gravel Roads Need New Safety Standards


Researchers at the University of Wyoming are studying the safety of gravel roads in the state.

Gravel and dirt roads make up 35 percent of the nation's highways, but UW researcher Ahmed Farid said they aren't included in the national Highway Safety Manual.

Engineers use the manual to assess road safety and minimize the number of accidents. It takes into account the width and condition of the road, the amount of traffic, and the environment around the road.

Because there is no chapter for gravel roads, Farid applied the manual's technique for paved two-lane highways. He estimated the number of accidents on gravel roads in Laramie county from 2009 to 2018.

"I mean there were 211 accidents reported and I estimated only 87 accidents using the manual's methodology," he said. "That's about two and a half times the one I've estimated."

Farid said the Highway Safety Manual is not applicable to Wyoming's gravel roads, which run for about 12,000 miles and make up 90 percent of the total road mileage across the state. 

"I recommend that extensive data of Wyoming's gravel roads be collected and processed to develop mathematical models of our state," he said. "Of course, I would suggest that the future edition of the manual include a new chapter focused on gravel road safety."

An updated manual is scheduled to come out in 2021.

Have a question about this story? Please contact the reporter, Ashley Piccone, at apiccone@uwyo.edu.

Ashley is a PhD student in Astronomy and Physics at UW. She loves to communicate science and does so with WPM, on the Astrobites blog, and through outreach events. She was born in Colorado and got her BS in Engineering Physics at Colorado School of Mines. Ashley loves hiking and backpacking during Wyoming days and the clear starry skies at night!
Related Content