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FHWA Home / Safety / HSIP / HRRR / Manual for Selecting Safety Improvements on High Risk Rural Roads

5. Safety Management, the Funding Process, and Funding Sources

Safety Management includes overall program direction and project prioritization, funding identification, project development, project implementation, and evaluation.

5.1. Safety Management

5.1.1. Safety Project Prioritization and Development

To prioritize and identify projects for funding, safety professionals must determine comparison criteria for this purpose. In many cases an economic appraisal is used to provide a fair comparison among projects competing for safety funds. In a basic economic appraisal, an analyst will calculate the monetary cost of the treatment and the estimated monetary value of the benefits, such as reduced number and severity of crashes. The analyst can then calculate a benefit-to-cost ratio for each potential project to compare their relative effectiveness.42

In addition to the calculated value, other prioritization criteria may include:

5.1.2. Initial and Ongoing Treatment Costs

When selecting safety improvements to deploy, practitioners should weigh the treatments among several criteria: estimated safety benefit, feasibility or applicability of installing the treatment at a specific site or sites, how to fund the initial installation and ongoing maintenance costs while considering the ranges of those costs, and how often the treatment will need routine maintenance in order to maintain the safety benefits associated with deployment.

Typically, the initial installation of safety treatments can be financed through dedicated safety funds in additional to other funding sources used for highway construction and reconstruction. However, ongoing maintenance costs associated with the initial installation become the responsibility of the agency and are typically funded through internal operations and maintenance budgets.

Recurring maintenance costs should be considered and weighed as practitioners decide among potential treatments to deploy on HRRR. The HRRR Treatment Matrix located in this manual presents the initial deployment cost and recurring maintenance costs associated with safety treatments presented in Chapter 4 to aid in the decision-making process.

5.2. The Funding Process

State DOTs typically program safety (and other transportation) projects through their multi-year Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). A State's Planning Division is often the leader of this process, so safety-focused staff must provide project recommendations for potential funding. Specific policies, procedures, and practices vary widely by State.

Non-State agencies, such as counties, municipalities, and Tribal entities, work through regional planning commissions (RPCs), regional planning organizations (RPO), councils of government (COGs), or metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) to identify, plan, and program transportation safety projects. Each RPC, RPO, COG, and MPO develops a Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) in conjunction with the State DOT that cites the region or area's top transportation priorities for new projects. Transportation safety projects are typically a portion of the TIP.

5.3. Legislation and Funding Sources

A number of sources for funding are available at the Federal, State, and local levels. Processes vary widely from State-to-State and year-to-year based on the current level of funding and legislation, so the best sources of information in an individual State is the State DOT Safety Engineer, State DOT Local Programs Office, FHWA Division Office, and LTAP Center.

The following sections provide background information regarding current legislation and funding sources at the time of this writing. All are subject to change.

5.3.1. Legislation and Federal Funding Sources

In 2005, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) established the HSIP as a core Federal-aid funding program. As part of the HSIP, SAFETEA-LU introduced a setaside provision, the High Risk Rural Roads Program (HRRRP). The HRRRP provided $90 million as an annual set-aside from a State's HSIP apportionment and was developed to help States implement solutions on the lower functional classes of rural roadways, a segment of the system often overlooked.43

On July 6, 2012, President Barak Obama signed into law P.L. 112-141, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). MAP-21 continues the Highway Safety Improvement Program with nearly double the funding from SAFETEA-LU. MAP-21 removes the HRRRP set-aside provision and also revises the definition of "High Risk Rural Road," but continues the inclusion of construction and operational improvements on HRRR as eligible HSIP projects.44 While the $90 million set-aside for HRRR was not continued, MAP-21 contains a special rule45 requiring obligation of funds for HRRR projects if the fatality rate on rural roads in a State is increasing. If the special rule applies to a State for a fiscal year, it must obligate projects on HRRR of an amount equal to at least 200 percent of the amount of funds the State received for FY 2009 for the HRRRP.46

There are multiple funding resources that can be used to fund recommendations for HRRR projects, depending on the nature of the suggestion. Funding for safety projects may come from a variety of Federal, State, and local sources. Some of the programs include:47

In addition to the major highway program funding sources, other Federal safety resources may assist with HSIP implementation. These grant programs are administered by NHTSA and FMCSA and can be used to assist with law enforcement efforts and improve traffic record data collection, data systems, and hazard elimination. The funding includes:48,49

5.3.2. Other Funding Sources

In some States the DOT sets aside a certain amount of safety funding for State and local rural road projects. Funding sources and amounts vary from State to State, so the best resources for finding out more in a particular State are the State DOT Safety Engineer, FHWA Division Office, and LTAP Center. For example, safety efforts in Iowa on State and local roads are funded with a combination of Federal and State funds. A portion of their Road Use Tax Fund (0.5% as of 2005) has been set aside for safety projects. This gives Iowa about $7 million of State funds per year–on top of their Federal safety funding–to address the State's most pressing safety needs. Previous projects have included experimental pavement marking, data software development, the small town signing program, and research projects at local universities.50

5.4. Evaluation

Evaluation of safety treatments is a necessary step in the safety management process. Calculating effectiveness provides safety officials with the information needed to determine if the treatment(s) should be used in similar situations in the future.

Pre- and post-installation crash history and a record of treatment installations support performance assessment of each safety treatment. It is important to keep a current list of installed treatments with associated details to support these analyses. Periodic assessments will help drive decisions about whether each treatment contributed to safety improvements and why they were successful.

Required information may include crash history data (with associated details related to the treatment–crash type, frequency, severity); public input and complaints; and observations from maintenance crews or law enforcement.

Once calculated, the quantified benefits of certain treatments can be used to develop crash modification factors (CMF) to improve the analysis during project prioritization and selection.51


42 AASHTO, Highway Safety Manual, First Edition, 2010. [ Return to note 42. ]

43 23 U.S.C. §148(a)(1) defines a "high risk rural road" as: "...any roadway functionally classified as a rural major or minor collector or a rural local road (a) on which the accident rate for fatalities and incapacitating injuries exceeds the statewide average for those functional classes of roadway; or (b) that will likely have increases in traffic volume that are likely to create an accident rate for fatalities and incapacitating injuries that exceeds the statewide average for those functional classes of roadway." [ Return to note 43. ]

44 Section 1112 of MAP-21 changed the definition of a "high risk rural road" in 23 USC 148(a)(1) to: "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." [ Return to note 44. ]

45 23 U.S.C. 148(g)(1) [ Return to note 45. ]

46 FHWA, "Highway Safety Improvement Program, MAP-21 High Risk Rural Roads Guidance." [ Return to note 46. ]

47 FHWA, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), A Summary of Highway Provisions. Available at: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/map21/summaryinfo.cfm. [ Return to note 47. ]

48 FHWA, Highway Safety Improvement Program Manual. Available at: http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/hsip/resources/fhwasa09029/sec5.cfm [ Return to note 48. ]

49 Iowa Department of Transportation, "National Priority Safety Programs Under MAP-21, Section 405." Available at: http://www.iowadot.gov/pol_leg_services/federalregisternotices/NHTSA%20Sec.%20405%20regulatory%20analysis.pdf [ Return to note 49. ]

50 Chandler, B., Midwest Safety Scanning Tour, Missouri Department of Transportation, 2005. Available at: http://www.modot.org/safety/Safety_Engineering/documents/2005SafetyScanningTour.pdf [ Return to note 50. ]

51 FHWA, Road Safety Information Analysis: A Manual for Local Rural Road Owners, FHWA-SA-11-10 (Washington, DC, 2011). [ Return to note 51. ]


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