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FHWA Home / Safety / State Policies and Procedures on Use of the Highway Safety Manual

State Policies and Procedures on Use of the Highway Safety Manual

Sample Language

Overview

The report provides noteworthy examples or applications of policy or procedures statements along with the sample language. The selected State Department of Transportation (DOT) examples or applications cover specific areas in the project development process, including planning and programming, engineering and design, operations, and maintenance, and roadway safety management processes.

Highway Safety Manual in Planning and Programming

Federal requirements state that safety must be explicitly considered in the transportation planning process. In addition, Federal legislation requires that transportation agencies prepare strategic highway safety plans, long-range transportation plans, and other statewide plans. Integrating safety into long-term system plans (20-year plans) provides highway agencies with the ability to set the vision, goals, and strategies to proactively develop transportation systems that will result in fewer fatalities and serious injuries. Near-term planning (5- to 10-year project planning) also provides the opportunity to plan and program projects to address known safety issues or integrate safety features into projects focused on other transportation services such as mobility, maintenance, connectivity, or access. The programming process allocates funds to projects according to an ongoing cycle–often a four-year cycle at the State level. Analysis methods identified in the Highway Safety Manual (HSM) can be used to support decisionmaking in the long-term planning process, project-planning process, and project-prioritization process.

Long-Range Transportation Planning

The long-range transportation planning process can broadly be defined as having the following elements:

Descriptive safety data analyses can be used to establish goals, objectives, and performance measures for a long-range transportation plan. Also, safety data is an important component of the examination of current conditions for a transportation system. As explained in the HSM, descriptive analyses summarize and tabulate information about crashes such as crash frequency, severity, or type using crash counts. (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Highway Safety Manual, 1st Edition, 2010, p. 5-2.) Forecasting safety performance of a transportation network can be done using network-level safety forecasting methods provided in the HSM; however, the models would have to be very comprehensive to match the scale of most State and urban transportation networks. As planning activities become more project specific (near-term planning or programming activities), the HSM Part C predictive method and/or Crash Modification Factors (CMF) in the HSM become more relevant.

Noteworthy Example
Sample Policy Language

It is the policy of the Department that HSM methods shall (should/may) be used in long-range plans to identify projects, programs, or policies that support safety goals and objectives in the plan.

Sample Guidance/Procedure Language

To implement this policy, the HSM methodologies shall (should/may) be used in the long-range transportation planning process. Descriptive analyses summarizing statewide and/or regional crash trends (e.g., crashes by type, urban or rural, behavior) can provide information about the types of projects which might drive down fatalities and serious injuries. State or regionwide safety prediction models can be developed and used to estimate future safety conditions and evaluate alternative transportation system scenarios.

Near-Term Transportation Planning and Programming

In near-term transportation planning and programming, projects are assessed, project alternatives are considered and defined, project purpose and need are developed, and projects are prioritized and programmed (i.e., funding is committed for design and construction). (The section"Near-Term Transportation Planning and Programming" does not provide an exhaustive list of near-term planning and programming activities.) The HSM can be readily integrated into the near-term planning and programming process to incorporate consideration of the safety performance of various roadway features, as well as comparing one project to another for prioritization.

For example, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Safer Roads Index (SRI) uses HSM concepts in its transportation programming process; Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is using planning-level CMFs in its project funding prioritization process through its Smart Scale program; and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LADOTD) has a fact sheet linking its project development process to types of safety analyses methods from the HSM.

Noteworthy Examples
Sample Policy Language

It is the policy of the Department to select and implement projects that help the State achieve its safety goals with consideration given to the cost effectiveness of the potential projects and funding constraints. The HSM shall (should/may) be used to evaluate project alternatives and prioritize projects to quantitatively consider safety performance in the near-term planning and programming process.

Sample Guidance/Procedure Language

To implement this policy, the HSM methodologies shall (should/may) be used to integrate quantitative safety analysis in the near-term planning and programming of funding for transportation projects. Quantitative safety analysis allows for safety performance to be estimated and therefore tradeoffs between alternatives or across projects defined. Safety (i.e., number and severity of crashes) can be considered alongside other performance measures such as capacity, environmental impacts, right-of-way impacts, or construction costs. The HSM Part C predictive method and/or CMFs can be used to estimate the changes in crash frequency or severity associated with different roadway alternatives. The tradeoffs can be considered in the form of the number of crashes, the number of fatalities or severe injuries, or the economic costs of the crashes.

National Environmental Policy Act

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires examination of potential impacts to the social and natural environment when considering proposed transportation projects involving Federal funds or requiring Federal approval. (U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration,"Integrating Road Safety Into NEPA Analysis; A Practitioners Primer," June 2011, page 3). There are three major categories of NEPA assessment: Categorical Exclusions (listed or documented), Environment Assessments, and Environmental Impact Statements. (U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration,"Integrating Road Safety Into NEPA Analysis; A Practitioners Primer," June 2011, page 4). The HSM Part C predictive method and CMFs readily support the evaluation of alternatives that are under consideration in the NEPA process. Examples of HSM-related language in State DOT NEPA procedures were not identified in this project; possible language is presented below.

Sample Policy Language

It is the policy of the Department that safety shall be a consideration in the NEPA project alternatives evaluation and documentation. The existing crash conditions and estimated number and severity of crashes associated with the no-build and build alternatives shall (should/may) be estimated using HSM methods. The outcomes of the quantitative safety analyses shall be considered and documented.

Sample Guidance/Procedure Language

To implement this policy, safety can be meaningfully integrated into the NEPA process by estimating changes in crash frequency or severity associated with different alternatives being investigated. Changes in crash frequency or severity due to different roadway features shall (should/may) be estimated using the HSM Part C predictive method and/or CMFs.

Highway Safety Manual in Engineering and Design

Within the process of delivering a roadway project for construction, engineering-and more specifically engineering design–consumes a large share of the effort and time required. The design process can be an iterative effort starting from a high-level concept to more detailed design and analysis, resulting in a complete final design of the facility. This report focuses on integrating the HSM into three categories of engineering and design:

Preliminary Engineering

Preliminary engineering encompasses a wide range of practices with a roadway project. In this informational report, preliminary engineering is narrowly centered on activities that would be considered during the concept or scoping phases of a project prior to design. Example language related to preliminary engineering was discovered through the research for this report only in the following areas:

Project-Level Traffic Impact Analyses

As part of the preliminary engineering process, project-level traffic impact analyses are an excellent opportunity to use the HSM to evaluate safety performance.

Noteworthy Example
Sample Policy Language

It is the policy of the Department for traffic impact analyses to include a safety performance assessment. For the decisionmaking process within preliminary engineering activities, these analyses provide valuable information to evaluate the safety performance regarding changes to access the roadway system, the roadway design, and the resulting traffic impacts. The HSM shall (should/may) be used in traffic impact analyses to evaluate the safety performance associated with modifications to the roadway.

Sample Procedures Language

To implement this policy a Traffic Impact Analysis shall be prepared during the preliminary engineering phase of a project and shall include an assessment of safety performance as a key component of the TIA. In this analysis, CMFs are a useful tool that shall (should/may) be used to estimate the anticipated safety impacts of the proposed roadway modifications or design.

In addition to the CMFs, the HSM Part C predictive method is a valuable tool in this assessment process and shall (should/may) be used to compare the safety performance with or without proposed modifications for the design of the highway.

Interstate System Access Change Request

As part of the process to change access to the Interstate highway system, the FHWA's decision to approve new or revised access points to the Interstate highway system requires documentation of the impacts of the proposed access. The Interstate System Access Change Request is used to describe the formal request made to FHWA by a State DOT. With this process, the FHWA's interest is to ensure all new or revised access points:

As part of this FHWA policy, requests for a proposed change in access must include a description and assessment of the impacts and ability of the proposed changes to safely and efficiently collect, distribute and accommodate traffic. (FHWA Access Guide, p. 82.) The HSM can be used to complete the required safety performance assessment.

Noteworthy Examples
Sample Policy Language

It is the policy of the Department to protect the functionality of the Interstate system and preserve the investment made in the system. With all proposed new or modified access to the Interstate system, an access justification report shall be completed and safety performance shall be an evaluation consideration in the report. The objective of an access justification safety analysis is to examine the effects of the proposed new access or modified access on the safety performance of the facility. This safety analysis is a proactive approach to address potential safety impacts identified in the planning and design phase of the project. When completing the safety analysis, HSM methods shall (should/may) be used to evaluate the safety performance of project design alternatives.

Sample Procedures Language

To implement this policy the Interstate access justification report shall include a quantitative assessment of the safety impacts of the proposed access modification. This quantitative assessment shall (should/may) use the HSM Part C predictive method to evaluate predicted safety performance of the proposed access change, including the freeway section, speed change lanes, ramps, collector/distributor lanes, ramp terminal intersections, and the adjacent affected local surface system, including segments and intersections.

The Interactive Highway Safety Design Model (IHSDM), Enhanced Interchange Safety Analysis Tool (ISATe), and/or HSM spreadsheets are available tools that can be used to support this safety performance assessment. In addition, CMFs from the CMF Clearinghouse and/or State-specific CMFs developed by the Department can be used in the safety performance assessment.

Design Process

Design manuals provide the practices and methods for developing and documenting the design of improvements to the transportation network. The highway design process involves the application of engineering principles to meet each project's objectives in the best overall public interest. Application of these principles requires considering and balancing social, economic, and environmental issues to achieve a safe and efficient transportation system. The design manual supplements the engineering analyses and judgment that is applied to project design. It provides uniform procedures for documenting and implementing design decisions.

Noteworthy Examples
Sample Policy Language

It is the policy of the Department that the HSM shall (should/may) be used to evaluate the safety performance of the roadway design. Using the HSM to determine design tradeoffs (higher-than-minimum standards or lower-than-full standards) will meet the intent of the design manual for determining recommended values or range of values for the roadway design.

Sample Procedures Language

To implement this policy, the designer shall (should/may) evaluate using the HSM the safety performance of the proposed design elements as part of the decisionmaking process determining the presence and dimensions of the proposed design features. The HSM Part C predictive method and/or CMFs are resources available to complete this assessment. The sources of CMFs are the HSM Part D, the CMF Clearinghouse, and/or State-specific CMFs developed by the Department.

The documentation of safety analyses supporting (or informing) design decisions is the responsibility of the office completing the design. Components of this documentation include the safety analyses used, and a safety impact comparison of design alternatives. Also, by performing predictive safety analysis and incorporating existing crash history when appropriate, the designer shall (should/may) conduct a safety performance assessment to identify the contributing factors and determine the appropriate countermeasures to include in the design based on these factors.

The Interactive Highway Safety Design Model (IHSDM), Enhanced Interchange Safety Analysis Tool (ISATe), and/or HSM spreadsheets are available tools that can be used to support the safety performance assessment.

As a component of the safety analysis documentation, the designer shall (should/may) complete an economic assessment to support evaluation of different design alternatives. For this documentation, the HSM chapter 7–Economic Appraisal identifies various methods that shall (should/may) be used for the economic analysis, including benefit/cost (B/C), net present value, and cost effectiveness analysis.

Design Exception Process

The design exception process provides an excellent opportunity to expand HSM policy and guidance/procedure language as well as overall HSM implementation outside of the Highway Safety Improvement Process or other typical safety programs. This"process" term should be considered to be inclusive of design exceptions, design variances, design waivers, or other terms used in State DOT documents.

Noteworthy Examples
Sample Policy Language

It is the policy of the Department that all projects will be designed to meet the existing and future traffic needs in the most economical manner with emphasis on safety, operations, and maintainability. Particular attention with project design must be given to the controlling criteria for design. If any of the controlling design criteria cannot be met, a formal design exception is required. If the design exception involves features that are adequately addressed in the HSM, then the evaluation analysis and documentation shall (should/may) be completed using the methodologies described in the HSM.

Sample Guidance/Procedure Language

To implement this policy the HSM shall (should/may) be used to evaluate the safety performance of a design modification to controlling design criteria. Documentation of the safety performance is key in addressing this policy for the design exception process. From a safety perspective, this documentation should examine contributing factors of crashes as well as the relationship between the roadway features being considered in the design exception and these contributing factors. The design exception documentation using the HSM is intended to discuss the safety performance of the full design feature versus the feature designed as indicated in the design exception.

The safety assessment included in the documentation shall include, at a minimum, a crash history, crash rates, and crash frequencies of the project location. The HSM is an excellent resource for evaluating the impact to safety performance of changes in the controlling design criteria. The HSM Part C predictive method and/or CMFs shall (should/may) be used in a comparative analysis of the predicted crash frequency with or without the proposed change in project design.

To support the safety performance evaluation, a number of commercially available products and tools developed by State DOTs or by the FHWA are available. The Interactive Highway Safety Design Model (IHSDM) and/or HSM spreadsheets are examples of available tools that can be used for the safety performance assessment. Also, Safety Performance Functions (SPF) and CMFs from the CMF Clearinghouse and/or State-specific CMFs developed by the Department can be used in the safety performance assessment.

Additionally, to document the economic assessment of the design change, chapter 7 of the HSM contains methods, including benefit/cost (B/C), net present value, and cost effectiveness, that can be used for the economic analysis documentation.

Highway Safety Manual in Operations and Maintenance

There are some specific areas within Operations and Maintenance where the HSM can be applied; however, there are limited specific examples that are available to develop sample policy or guidance language. Noteworthy examples along with sample language within each of the following areas are presented:

Traffic Operations

The objective of traffic operations activities is to optimize the performance of existing infrastructure through implementation of processes and projects to preserve capacity and address safety performance of the transportation system. This report focuses on integrating the HSM into two categories of traffic operations activities:

Intersection Control Evaluation

State and local transportation agencies are actively implementing intersection designs beyond the conventional signalized intersection or stop-controlled intersection. A few examples of these designs are roundabouts, diverging diamond interchanges, and continuous flow intersections. To address the need to provide an objective process to evaluate and select between intersection control alternatives, a number of State DOTs are developing Intersection Control Evaluation (ICE) policies and procedures. The goal of ICE is to provide a performance-based decisionmaking process, and the HSM is a valuable resource to complete the safety performance analysis within the ICE process. California, Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, Washington, and Wisconsin all have developed ICE policies and procedures.

Specific to traffic signals, the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) Traffic Design Manual (2015) requires that a Traffic Signal Justification Study include an assessment of the safety implications of installing a new traffic signal, modifying an existing traffic signal, or removing an existing traffic signal.

Noteworthy Examples
Sample Policy Language

It is the policy of the Department to use the Intersection Control Evaluation (ICE) to assess intersection alternatives and according to the most recent adopted edition of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). The ICE shall include an assessment of the safety performance of the intersection alternatives. The HSM shall (should/may) be used to assist in performing the safety assessment.

Sample Procedures Language

To implement this policy, when completing the ICE process, the HSM Part C predictive method and/or CMFs shall (should/may) be used to evaluate the safety performance of the proposed intersection projects and to provide better decisionmaking information for project selection and funding prioritization.

In addition, when considering operational changes such as signal timing or modifying intersections to include left-turn and/or right-right turn lanes or lighting upgrades, the HSM Part C predictive method and/or CMFs shall (should/may) be used to evaluate the safety performance of these modifications.

Traffic Impact Analyses

According to the Traffic Engineering Handbook, traffic impact analyses (TIA), also known as traffic impact studies, are widely used to estimate the travel impacts of new or expanded land development as part of the approvals process. (Institute of Traffic Engineers,"Traffic Engineering Handbook, Seventh Edition," January 2016, page 188.)

Noteworthy Example
Sample Policy Language

It is the policy of the Department that requests for roadway access connections include a traffic impact analysis (TIA). The TIA shall include a safety performance assessment. These analyses provide essential information for the decisionmaking process to evaluate the safety performance regarding changes to access the roadway system and the resulting traffic impacts. The HSM shall (should/may) be used to evaluate the safety performance associated with modifications to the roadway.

Sample Procedures Language

To implement this policy a traffic impact analysis shall be prepared for developments which desire access to the highway and shall include an assessment of traffic safety impact as a key component of the analysis. In this analysis, CMFs are a useful tool that shall (should/may) be used to estimate the anticipated safety impacts of the proposed roadway modifications.

In addition to the CMFs, the HSM Part C predictive method is a valuable tool in this assessment process and shall (should/may) be used to compare the safety performance with or without proposed modifications for access to the highway.

Resurfacing, Restoration, and Rehabilitation Projects

Preservation and maintenance is one of the final stages of the project development process. It is important for protecting the roadways investment and maintaining the existing transportation system in a state of good repair. Opportunities to implement the HSM methods include resurfacing, restoration, and rehabilitation (3R) projects and can include only resurfacing and/or restoration projects as well as maintenance activities. Some areas where the HSM can be used include geometric changes, shoulder and roadside improvements, traffic control, and guidance enhancement, and surface condition upgrades.

Noteworthy Example
Sample Policy Language

It is the policy of the Department that 3R projects are designed and constructed with due consideration of appropriate levels of traffic operations, safety, and maintenance. All 3R projects shall include an estimate of the safety benefits of the proposed treatments. The HSM shall (should/may) be used to estimate the safety impacts. The safety impacts of the treatment shall be included in the project documentation.

Sample Procedures Language

To implement this policy, when completing the safety assessment for the 3R project documentation and dependent on the scale of the project, the HSM Part C predictive method and/or CMFs shall (should/may) be used to evaluate the proposed project for funding.

In addition, if safety countermeasures are considered for inclusion in the 3R project, the HSM Part C predictive method and/or CMFs shall (should/may) be used to evaluate the safety performance of these countermeasures, and the results of the analysis shall be included in the project documentation.

Roadway Safety Management Process

Many if not all States have documented policies and procedures for implementing the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP). These policies and procedures provide information on the State safety project selection and prioritization process, crash-cost estimates and benefit/cost analysis methodology (including project service life), and forms for applying for State HSIP funds. States also develop a variety of manuals for explaining how to conduct safety investigations that support the HSIP process. The roadway safety management process shown in figure 1 is the traditional approach taken to safety investigations. Methods in the HSM advance the roadway safety management process by providing quantifiable, repeatable, reliable results for each step in the roadway safety management process. Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Washington all have included HSM methods or software consistent with the HSM as part of their policy and procedures for HSIP management and implementation.

Figure 1. Chart. Roadway safety management process.

Figure 1 is a chart showing the roadway safety management process which is the traditional approach taken to safety investigations. This approach begins with network screening, moves forward with diagnosis, countermeasure selection, economic appraisal, project prioritization, and evaluation leading to the process back to the beginning with network screening.

(Source: Cambridge Systematics, Inc.)

Noteworthy Examples
Sample Policy Language

It is the policy of the Department to use HSM methods to quantify safety performance as part of the State roadway safety management process and HSIP process to reduce fatal and serious injury crashes.

Sample Procedures Language

To implement this policy, activities within the HSIP process shall include network screening, diagnosis and countermeasure selection, economic appraisal, predicted changes to crash frequency and severity, and project prioritization. The HSM shall (should/may) be used to evaluate safety performance in the following manner:

The Department provides safety analysis tools that shall (should/may) be used for these evaluations. The tools are consistent with the principles and methodologies within the HSM. There are a number of commercially available products, products developed by States, and products developed by FHWA that can be used.

Summary

Although State DOTs have made good progress in implementing HSM concepts and methods within the safety management processes, expanding the reach of the HSM into other DOT processes such as planning and programming, project development, operations, and maintenance has been limited. To address an identified impediment to progress, the States participating in the HSM Implementation Pooled-Fund Study identified the need for a compilation and synthesis of existing State policies and development of sample policy and procedures language covering a range of activities in which use of the HSM would be beneficial.

The sample policy and procedures language is presented as an adaptation from noteworthy examples of existing language or applications in State DOT policies and manuals. Research for this informational report identified noteworthy State DOT examples covering a wide range of agency practices. These examples do not address all of the practices where the HSM could be used in the State DOTs, however. The sample language presented is based on processes for which some States already have language and/or processes or Pooled Fund Study States specifically requested sample language.

The sample policy language within this report provides State DOTs with an opportunity to develop policy language directing the use of the HSM in specific agency activities. To further this effort, the sample procedures language contains more descriptions, advice, and information of the HSM methodologies that State DOTs can use as a template for their own procedures documents.

For States in which the process of integrating the HSM into typical agency practices has been slower than desired, the information presented will provide a starting point that can accelerate efforts to develop and adopt policies and procedures to support implementation of the HSM. The sample language is intended to serve as a template that State DOT staff could adapt for use in their policies and manuals. State DOT staff can tailor the sample language to fit their agency's goals and objectives to expand implementation of the HSM.

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Page last modified on May 31, 2017
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