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FHWA Home / Safety / Focused Approach to Safety

Focused Approach to Safety

Purpose of the Focused Approach

The Focused Approach to Safety provides additional resources to eligible high priority States to address the Nation’s most critical safety challenges through additional program benefits such as people, time, tools and training. This approach increases awareness on critical severe crash types, leads to key safety infrastructure improvements, assists in prioritizing limited resources, and creates positive organizational changes in safety culture, policies and procedures. Each eligible State participating in the Focused Approach will be assisted in addressing fatality reductions in any one or all of three critical focus areas. These areas have been identified as providing the greatest potential to reduce highway fatalities using infrastructure-oriented improvements, namely: roadway departure, intersection crashes, and pedestrian and bicycle crashes. These three focus areas encompass almost 90% of the traffic fatalities in the U.S.

Pie Charts: United States Fatalitites by FHWA Focus Area - Aveage 2017-2019

The graphic is titled United States Fatalities by FHWA Focus Area, Average 2017-2019. The graphic depicts two pie charts. The first pie chart shows that 45% of fatalities are Roadway Departure Only Crashes, 18% are Intersection Only Crashes, 12% are Pedestrian and Bicycle Only Crashes, 13% are Crashes not involving a Focus Area, and 11% are Multiple Focus Area Crashes. The second pie chart is a breakout of the 11% Multiple Focus Area Crashes, which are 5.8% Intersections and Pedestrians/Bicycles, 4.0% Intersections and Roadway Departures, 1.3% Roadway Departures and Pedestrian/Bicycles, and 0.2% All Focus Areas. There is a notation that the sources are FARS, that the FHWA definitions are available at safety.fhwa.dot.gov/fas, and that numbers in the pie charts may not add exactly due to rounding.

Data for the Focus Areas

The Focused Approach to Safety is a data-driven process.  In 2014, FHWA updated the data definitions used to determine the number of crashes associated with each of the three critical focus areas.  A memorandum explains the historic and current data definitions and provides a listing of fatalities in each State using the definitions for each focus area.  Additional detail is included in this Technical Brief. For data analysts, the SAS codes are also provided.  This coding was specifically developed for the changes in the Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS) that occurred in 2010.

Focus States and Regions/MPOs

In 2021, FHWA completed the most recent update of the Focused Approach to Safety initiative. A complete summary of the noteworthy changes made with this update are documented in the October 20, 2021, memorandum. The tables that follow identify the Focus States for each Focus Area and corresponding Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) or Regions (larger areas inclusive of multiple MPOs) within those Focus States.

Focus States by Focus Area
State Roadway
Departure
Intersections Pedestrians Bicyclists

Alabama

X

 

 

 

Arizona

 

X

X

 

California

 

 

X

X

Colorado

 

X

 

 

Florida

 

X

X

X

Louisiana

X

X

X

 

Mississippi

X

 

 

 

Montana

X

 

 

 

Nevada

 

X

X

 

New Mexico

 

 

X

 

North Carolina

X

 

 

 

Oklahoma

X

 

 

 

Puerto Rico

 

 

X

 

South Carolina

X

X

X

 

Texas

X

 

X

 

Wyoming

X

 

 

 

 

Focus Area MPOs/Regions
State MPO/Region Intersections Pedestrians Bicyclists

Arizona

Maricopa Association of Governments

X

X

 

Arizona

Pima Association of Governments

X

 

 

California

Kern Council of Governments

 

X

 

California

Sacramento Area Council of Governments

 

X

 

California

San Diego Association of Governments

 

X

 

California

San Joaquin Council of Governments

 

X

 

California

Southern California Association of
Governments

 

X

X

Colorado

Denver Regional Council of Governments

X

 

 

Florida

Greater Cape Coral/ Naples Region

X

 

 

Florida

Greater Miami Region

X

X

X

Florida

Greater Orlando Region

X

X

X

Florida

Greater Pensacola Region

 

X

 

Florida

Greater Sarasota Region

X

 

 

Florida

Greater Tampa/St. Petersburg Region

X

X

X

Florida

Heartland Regional Transportation
Planning Organization

X

 

 

Florida

North Florida Transportation Planning
Organization

X

X

 

Florida

Polk County Transportation Planning
Organization

X

 

 

Florida

River to Sea Transportation Planning
Organization

X

 

 

New Mexico

Mid-Region Council of Governments

 

X

 

Nevada

Regional Transportation Commission of
Southern Nevada

X

X

 

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Metropolitan Planning
Organization

 

X

 

South Carolina

Grand-Strand Area Transportation Study

X

 

 

Texas

Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning
Organization

 

X

 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are the benefits of being a Focus State or MPO/Region?

    Focus States and MPOs/Regions identified through the FAS will have priority access to assistance. They can receive technical assistance such as data analysis and action plan development from initiation to implementation; training and associated materials in a variety of formats, including classroom-based workshops or online webinars; support for a wide range of analysis tools and countermeasures.

  2. What has changed regarding the Focused Approach to Safety?

    Since its inception in 2004, the FAS been used to prioritize resources to where there is the greatest opportunity to save lives and prevent serious injuries. It is a unique data-driven and agency-specific approach to safety, which requires periodic updates to consider changes in priorities and changes in the data. Some of the changes implemented in 2021 include the following:

    • Pedestrians and Bicyclists are now treated as two separate Focus Areas.
    • Speed Management is featured as an emphasis area for all Focus Areas, and Two-Lane Rural Roads is featured as another emphasis area for Roadway Departure.
    • The analysis procedures, techniques and criteria to select Focus States and MPOs/Regions were very different from prior iterations of the FAS, but similar in terms of identifying overrepresentation across the Focus Areas.
    • A metric for equity was developed and used as one of the selection criteria.
    • MPOs/Regions are identified within Focus States instead of individual cities.

    The October 20, 2021, memorandum describes all the changes made through this update.

  3. Why is my state a Focus State?

    The analysis procedures, techniques and criteria to select Focus States and MPOs/Regions are intended to identify overrepresentation within the Focus Areas, and therefore opportunities to make greater positive impact with training and technical assistance. This designation is not intended to be viewed as a negative connotation.

  4. If our state is a new Focus State, or new to a particular focus area, or now has corresponding MPOs/Regions, what does it mean for our safety program?

    Each Focus State is eligible for priority training or technical assistance to target the challenges particular to that Focus Area and applicable to your State. This also applies to corresponding MPOs/Regions, in cooperation and consultation with the State. The first step will to be to create a tailored approach to find the right mix of resources (people, time, and training) to maximize the benefits to assist you and achieve the best fatality and serious injury reductions. The FHWA Office of Safety program lead for the focus area and the safety specialist in your local FHWA Division Office will work directly with you and your partners. FHWA Resource Center staff and contract support will be brought into the process as needed. Working together will result in additional lives saved and injuries prevented.

  5. If we are no longer a Focus State or City because of the update, what does it mean for our safety program?

    Commitments made under the FAS prior to the update will be honored and completed in a timely fashion. The specifics of a transition should be discussed with he FHWA Office of Safety program lead for the Focus Area and the safety specialist in your local FHWA Division Office. Outside of FAS, FHWA support and assistance may still be available, as it is to other non-Focus States, but without the priority associated with being a Focus State. Also, FHWA wants to hear and share your valuable feedback, lessons learned, or success stories that can assist other Focus States as they participate in the FAS. Be sure to stay in touch with the safety specialist in your local FHWA Division Office and FHWA Office of Safety program lead to provide any feedback you may have regarding the Focused Approach to Safety.

  6. If I am not eligible as a Focus State or MPO/Region, can I still access the technical assistance and guidance?

    All guidance, planning tools, training, technical guidebooks, printed resources and media published by the FHWA and the Office of Safety are available to all agencies, as well as the general public. The FAS represents a concerted effort to deploy and implement these resources and tools in the Focus States.
    Outside of the FAS, FHWA support and assistance may still be available, but without the priority associated with being a Focus State. It is advisable to first contact the safety specialist in your local FHWA Division Office and discuss topics of interest and potential options.

    .

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Page last modified on October 18, 2021
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