Rural Safety Assessments

The primary objective of a Rural Safety Assessment (RSA) is to improve traffic safety in a rural or small communities with populations under25,000. Improved local enforcement and engineering practices and programs can reduce traffic collisions that cause injury, death, and property damage. To achieve these objectives, Tech Transfer provides free Rural Safety Assessments, in which an evaluator will review your city or county's traffic safety conditions, programs, and needs, and suggest new strategies to improve local traffic safety.

Any city or county public works department or police department in California can request an RSA. If the agency is selected for an RSA, Tech Transfer will assign one traffic safety expert to conduct the RSA. The evaluator will begin with interviews of local agency staff and then schedule a half-day visit to the city or county to observe traffic conditions in the field. Following the visit, the expert will prepare a memo presenting their findings and suggestions to improve traffic safety and traffic operations in the city or county.

Funding for this program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

How is the Rural Safety Assessment conducted?

A safety expert reviews available safety data such as Statewide Integrated Traffic Reporting System (SWITRS) and Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) ranking.

Based on the available collision data and discussions with city and county staff, a list of intersections and roadway segments with the highest rates of collision is proposed for the evaluation. The expert meets with key police and engineering staff to identify local issues, and then performs a site review of traffic safety conditions. After the site visit, the expert prepares a written memo to document findings, suggestions for improvement and other relevant information.

Who can request a Rural Safety Assessment?

Any agency within a rural city or community in California may request a Rural Safety Evaluation from Tech Transfer. However, the number of evaluations we can do each year is limited by funding from OTS. Priority is given to applicants with significant traffic safety issues based on OTS collision rankings. Communities with the highest collision rates (top ten) for their population group are given priority. Communities with populations under 25,000 that appear in the top ten lists for OTS collision rankings are given the highest priority. Agencies can review their OTS collision ranking online.

How can I request a Rural Safety Assessment?

To learn more about Traffic and Rural Safety Assessments and to request one for your city, e-mail A limited number of assessments are available each year, so send in your request early.

What kinds of safety issues can the assessment address?

Engineering topics that communities have asked our evaluators to address include the following:

  • High-collision intersections
  • Inadequate sight-distance
  • Speeding problems
  • Speed-limit posting
  • Red-light running
  • Need for additional traffic control devices (signals, signs, markings, striping)
  • Roadway channelization and road diet
  • Traffic circulation
  • Signal timing
  • Access management
  • Traffic calming
  • Speed surveys
  • Traffic record keeping

Enforcement topics that communities have asked our evaluators to address include the following:

  • Enforcement capabilities and improvements
  • Local enforcement resources
  • Police personnel training
  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
  • Hit-and-run collisions
  • Speeding
  • Intersection/right-of-way enforcement
  • Vehicle impounds
  • Seat belt usage
  • Resource deployment
  • Traffic record systems
  • Reporting of collision factors
  • Safety and enforcement goals
  • Public relations and education

Who performs the Rural Safety Assessment?

Each evaluation is conducted by one traffic expert, as assigned by Tech Transfer staff. Our team of evaluators includes:

Terry Cates is a retired Lieutenant with City of Vacaville, California. He is an experienced law enforcement leader with nearly thirty years of progressively responsible experience including all aspects of traffic safety. As a Lieutenant working in Administrative Services Division he managed the Support Division which included Traffic and Communications, Records, Training, Crime Analysis, Data Entry, Office of Professional Standards (Internal Affairs), Crime Prevention, Crossing Guards and Volunteers in Police Services. As a Sergeant with Traffic Division, he led and supervised the traffic unit. He has also worked for both Solano County Department of Transportation and Yolo County as Deputy Sheriff.

Thomas Clausen, PE, is a registered Civil Engineer and Traffic Engineer in CA, and has a PTOE on Retired basis. He is an experienced transportation engineer with over 30 years of experience, who has worked at the senior level in several cities, Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Caltrans, and two consulting firms (Fehr & Peers and TJKM). His areas of expertise include traffic operations, signing and striping, traffic impact studies, traffic safety, and congestion management. Mr. Clausen is an ITE Fellow and past International Director representing the Western District. He is a member of ASCE. He holds a Master of Engineering Science from UC-Berkeley and a Master of Public Administration from CalState Eastbay. He has been an UC extension instructor for over 10 years.

Michelle DeRobertis, PE, is a registered civil and traffic engineer in California. She received her BS and MS degrees in Civil Engineering from UC Berkeley. Ms. DeRobertis is an experienced transportation engineer specializing in bicycle, pedestrian, and alternative transportation. She has extensive experience working as a consultant in bicycle planning and design, and was project manager for numerous major bicycle facility design studies for California cities and counties. Most recently, she worked in the public sector, first for the City of Alameda as an Associate Civil Engineer and then as a Senior Transportation Planner and Bicycle Program Manager for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority.

Nazir Lalani, PE, is the President of Traffex Engineers, Inc., a transportation consulting firm that provides consulting services to local agencies ranging from the complete responsibilities of traffic engineering functions to specialized operations such as synchronized signal systems and studies designed to improve pedestrian and bicycle facilities. Nazir is currently the Contract City Traffic Engineer for the Cities of La Quinta and Indian Wells in Southern California. In 2009, Nazir completed ten years of service with the County of Ventura, where he was the Deputy Director of the Transportation Department in charge of the Traffic and Transportation Division in the Transportation Department of the Ventura County Public Works Agency. Nazir has also held local government positions with the City of Ventura, Santa Barbara County, the City of Lakewood, Colorado, the City of Phoenix, Arizona, and the Greater London Council in England.

Dennis Smith is a retired police sergeant who served the City of Glendale Police Department, for more than three decades. He served in various roles such as Police Motor Sergeant, Police Investigator, and Police Agent, in Traffic Bureau, Field Services Division, and Detective Bureau of the Department. Mr. Smith authored numerous traffic safety grants that were submitted to the California Office of Traffic Safety, resulting in awarded grants that exceeded one million dollars. He has supervised numerous investigations involving traffic fatalities and/or serious injuries and managed the department’s red-light camera program. As a member of the Safe-Routes-To-Schools committee with Glendale Unified School District, he helped to identify schools in need of infrastructure and traffic safety improvements.

John Turner retired from the Ventura Police Department as a Sergeant with 30 years of service. He supervised motor officers and the collision investigation units for 22 years. He was the designated expert for the city attorney on collision related claims and he served on the city's Traffic Safety Board and Collision Review Committee. He has extensive experience in traffic enforcement, collision investigation, and innovative traffic safety programs. He has worked as a police officer in Santa Barbara, as a collision reconstructionist, and had testified as an expert in Vehicle Code application in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Texas, including in front of Senate Committees. He has won numerous awards for police work since 1984. He was the Principal at his own company, Turner Accident Reconstruction, and currently is a National Account Director for Redflex Traffic Systems Inc.

What have other agencies said about their Rural Safety Assessment?

“Evaluator was very knowledgeable and experienced; excellent work.”

“Our concerns were addressed relatively well, of course we could have gone on with a final solution/design for each item, but I realize there’s time/resource limits.”

“All in all, we very much appreciate this service/grant, it was very helpful to receive written outside expert consultation in areas we have been considering for some time.  This will help decide and direct our future effort.  And possibly be used as a response to public to show we are looking at these issues seriously.  Thank You!”

“The evaluator did a very god job.  The RSA Memo exceeded our expectations and focused on key transportation issues in our City.”