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FHWA Home / Safety / HSIP / High Risk Rural Roads (HRRR)

High Risk Rural Roads (HRRR)

Program Overview

High Risk Rural Roads are defined in 23 USC 148(a)(1) as "any roadway functionally classified as a rural major or minor collector or a rural local road with significant safety risks, as defined by a State in accordance with an updated State strategic highway safety plan."

While the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) eliminated the $90 million set-aside for the HRRR program, it also established a Special Rule for high risk rural road safety under 23 USC 148(g). This rule was continued with the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), and requires a State to obligate a certain amount of funds on HRRRs if the fatality rate on its rural roads increases. FHWA issued HSIP Special Rules Guidance in February, 2022, and a set of High Risk Rural Roads Questions and Answers in December, 2012.

Policy and Guidance

MAP-21, continued with FAST Act and BIL, provides flexibility to States in defining their HRRRs. While HRRRs are limited to the functional classifications of rural major and minor collectors and rural local roads, only those "with significant safety risks" as defined by each State in their updated State Strategic Highway Safety Plans (SHSPs) are considered HRRRs. More information on how a State may determine what a "significant safety risk" is can be found in the HSIP Special Rules Guidance.

The HRRR Special Rule applies if "the fatality rate on rural roads in a State increases over the most recent 2-year period for which data are available." To calculate the fatality rate for rural major and minor collectors and rural local roads in a State, FHWA will use data from the Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) and the NHTSA Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). If the HRRR Special Rule applies to a State, legislation requires the State obligate an amount equal to 200 percent of its FY 2009 high risk rural roads set-aside for high risk rural roads, as defined in their State SHSP. The FHWA Office of Safety will update the Division Offices for each State where the Special Rule applies.

For additional information on HRRR Special Rule obligation requirements and the next steps if a State subject to the HRRR Special Rule does not fully obligate HRRR Special Rule set-aside funds and associated obligation limitation, please see the FHWA 23 U.S.C. 148(g)(1) High Risk Rural Roads Special Rule memorandum issued November 30, 2017.

Additional Resources

Noteworthy Practice: Funding High Risk Rural Road Projects – Case study highlighting Kansas DOT overcoming limited data and proactively identifying HRRR projects using a systemic approach

Noteworthy Practice: Partnerships to Use High Risk Rural Roads Special Rule Funds – Case study highlighting Colorado DOT who successfully partnered with Federal, State and local agencies on HRRR safety solutions.

Manual for Selecting Safety Treatments on High Risk Rural Roads – Provides information on improving safety on HRRRs including safety benefits, a cost-effectiveness comparison of safety treatments, applicability of treatment deployment, maintenance costs, and decision-making processes for selecting treatments.

Implementing the High Risk Rural Roads Program – Documents common challenges, noteworthy practices, and lessons learned through the first 4 years of implementation of the HRRR Program under SAFETEA-LU. While this document was published in 2010 and the HRRR Program has since been updated with MAP-21, some of the information in the report may still be of interest to States.

Local and Rural Road Safety Program – Provides national leadership in identifying, developing, and delivering safety programs and products to agencies, elected officials, governments, and other stakeholders to improve safety on local and rural roads.

Page last modified on February 1, 2022
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