HSIP Noteworthy Practice Series
Revisiting SHSP Emphasis Areas
About the HSIP Noteworthy Practice Series
The Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) is a core Federal-aid highway program with the primary purpose of achieving a significant reduction in fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads. Many states and local agencies are successfully implementing innovative approaches to HSIP planning, implementation, and evaluation. The HSIP Noteworthy Practices Series presents case studies of these successful practices organized by specific HSIP topics. The individual case studies provide summaries of each practice, key accomplishments, results, and contact information for those interested in learning more.
Revisiting SHSP Emphasis Areas
FHWA guidance suggested Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) emphasis areas be selected “that offer the greatest potential for reducing fatalities and injuries.” In developing their original SHSPs, most states began with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) SHSP as a guide. States selected and prioritized from AASHTO’s 22 emphasis areas based on data analysis using various combinations of fatality and serious injury data. Some states defined new emphasis areas (i.e., rockfall). Others combined crash categories into broader priority areas (i.e., vulnerable road users including pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists). A few states organized emphasis areas into tiers defined by expected benefits and levels of implementation effort.
Safety priorities change as opportunities arise and/or barriers prevent progress. Some states defined review and update schedules and processes in their original SHSPs. Some initiated updates to improve their SHSPs after a few years of implementation effort demonstrated a need to revisit their emphasis areas. Others initiated updates to take advantage of lessons learned and experiences shared at the national level. A well organized update process helps states ensure the SHSP remains relevant and meaningful, and efforts continue to focus on areas with the greatest potential to improve safety.
Practices for revisiting emphasis areas range from simply reviewing updated data to reconfirm original emphasis area selections, to comprehensive data analysis and stakeholder outreach to take a fresh look at current and potential new emphasis areas. A number of states determined their first SHSP took on too much and decided to scale back to a more manageable number of emphasis areas. In such cases, fatality and injury data have been weighed against other factors such as available resources and levels of stakeholder cooperation. Some states actively track SHSP implementation and monitor performance measures on an ongoing basis as part of their review and update process.
For many states, developing the original SHSPs was a major undertaking. Not all are able to invest the same level of resources or maintain the same level of stakeholder interest in the update process. Some states opting to reduce the number of emphasis areas in their SHSPs have had difficulty determining the appropriate scope and selection criteria. Emerging topics, such as distracted driving, are also proving complicated to address in SHSPs when the science has not advanced far enough to allow for the same level of data analysis and countermeasure selection.
The following cases demonstrate noteworthy practices three states are using in revisiting SHSP emphasis areas:
To access these full case studies, click on the individual links above or visit the FHWA Office of Safety on-line at: http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/hsip/.