Highway Safety Improvement Program

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Project Eligibility

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The Focus is Results!

In 2009, motor vehicle fatalities reached levels not seen since 1950. Can all of this decline be attributed to the economic downturn leading to less roadway travel? The numbers say “no.” Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) have declined much less than the decrease in fatalities, giving credence to the fact the increased focus on and commitment to safety is paying off. Legislation in 23 USC 148 and advances in the science of safety have ushered in a different approach for states, regions, and localities to address safety issues and challenges, and the difference is clear.

By requiring the states to develop and implement Strategic Highway Safety Plans (SHSP) as part of the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), HSIPs became part of a broader vision involving multiple stakeholders and integrating into the planning process. The clear purpose is to achieve significant reductions in traffic fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads. The new approach provides direction for achieving the purpose.

A formula apportions HSIP funds to state departments of transportation (DOT) to administer, but any public road or pathway,including those owned by local governments, can benefit. The objective is to target resources where they will be most effective, which means the focus is results.

Eligibility Criteria

All transportation projects should include an explicit consideration of safety and can be funded through a variety of Federal and state sources. To most effectively and efficiently apply limited HSIP funds, use the criteria below.

  • Project addresses priorities in the state’s SHSP.
    Through collaboration with safety partners, the SHSP process identifies statewide emphasis areas with the greatest potential for reducing fatalities and serious injuries. Linking the HSIP with the SHSP ensures HSIP projects address priorities identified through the broader statewide strategic approach. For example, many SHSPs include a roadway departure emphasis area addressed using HSIP funds to implement low-cost safety improvements.
  • Project or countermeasure selection is based on a data-driven process.
    Data is the driving force in the decision-making process. With good data and analytic tools, states are able to identify systemic or site-specific safety problems, select and prioritize countermeasures, and evaluate impact on reducing fatalities and serious injuries.
  • The selected countermeasures address the identified problems.
    Ample resources and tools are available to help select the most effective projects, which also may include well-designed innovations.

A Broader Safety Vision

The HSIP regulations provide examples of the types of projects eligible for HSIP funding (23 CFR 924). But the list is sufficiently flexible to allow states to program funds for those projects with the greatest potential to improve safety. Beyond traditional engineering countermeasures, such as guard rail and rumble strips, the HSIP supports other types of projects, such as transportation safety planning; traffic records improvement; road safety audits; and other enforcement-, education-, and emergency-response-related projects once certain criteria are met.

Key to funding any of these types of projects is identifying individual projects through a data-driven process reflecting the state’s SHSP and consistent with the true spirit of the HSIP program.


Use this checklist when considering HSIP project selection.

  • Is the treatment consistent with the priorities in the SHSP?
  • Does the project address a serious crash risk (e.g., hot spot, road segment, crash type, etc.) identified through a data-driven process?
  • Is the project likely to achieve a significant reduction in fatalities and serious injuries?
  • Have you consulted with the state DOT and/or FHWA Division Office as appropriate?

Answering “Yes” to each of those questions is critical to ensuring the best use of HSIP funds consistent with the intent of 23 CFR 924.

For More Information

FHWA Division Offices

FHWA Office of Safety

HSIP Resources and Guidance

The Highway Safety Peer-to-Peer Program
877-473-0953 or HSIPP2P@dot.gov

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