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The SHSP Process

“The information that was most critical was being “familiar with the previous plan. A lot of effort went into it with a large number of stakeholders who were already involved. It was important to get to know those partners and understand it was a statewide, collective effort, and not just PennDOT. It also was important to know the history behind the SHSP, the original legislative requirement, and the requirements from the most recent transportation bills.”

Jeffrey Roecker, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

Start with the SHSP Fundamentals

Like any good process, the SHSP starts with several fundamentals, such as good leadership, collaboration, and effective communication. These fundamentals provide the foundation for the update process, but also ensure that you create a plan that can be successfully implemented and evaluated. These fundamentals are highlighted in the SHSP Implementation Process Model (IPM) and are summarized in the steps below. Many of these elements already may be in place for your SHSP and functioning well. In other cases you may have to make changes if the process is not as effective as it could be. The bottom line is an SHSP can only work if it has the proper support and is brought to life through action. The steps below will help to get you there.

Step 1—Ensure Adequate Leadership, Collaboration, and Communication

Successful SHSP development and implementation requires leadership, collaboration, and communication. In the complex, multidisciplinary world of the SHSP, leaders bring together the diverse interests and concerns of engineers, planners, law enforcement officers, education officials, emergency medical services personnel, and others. The following are elements that contribute to SHSP success:

  • Champions—Champions provide enthusiasm and support for the SHSP and must be credible and accountable, have excellent interpersonal and organizational skills, and be a skilled expediter. Safety champions help secure the necessary leadership, resources, visibility, support, and commitment of all partners. Some examples include the Secretary or Director of the DOT, the head of the State Highway Safety Office, a legislator, or the Superintendent of the State Police or Highway Patrol.
  • Leadership Committee(s)—Some States have both an Executive Committee and a Steering Committee that lead the SHSP. An Executive committee provides leadership for SHSP development, implementation, and evaluation. Steering Committees guides the SHSP process, and regularly reviews progress and receives updates on SHSP-related programs and projects. The Appendix includes a list of suggested members for both committees along with suggested roles and responsibilities. To encourage leaders to participate in the SHSP, the 4 Es has developed an SHSP Leadership Flyer which details reasons why these officials should get involved.

This graphic shows a basic organizational chart for the Strategic Highway Safety Plan.

Source: Cambridge Systematics, Inc.

Pennsylvania’s Executive Leadership

The Pennsylvania SHSP is developed under the guidance and direction of a Multi-Agency Safety Team (MAST), which includes leadership from various State agencies. These agencies signed a memorandum of understanding agreeing to support Pennsylvania’s vision, mission and goal and implement the highway safety strategies for which they are responsible. In addition, the MAST supports the SHSP in a numerous ways, including: approving the SHSP prior to submission to FHWA; oversight of task action teams; preparing summary of achievements and successes for the Governor’s Office; and evaluating the plan, initiating redirection of priorities, and requesting revisions to the plan.

  • Effective Organizational Structures—The organization of the SHSP follows a fairly simple approach with the Executive Committee leading the effort, followed by the Steering Committee, and Emphasis Area teams. Some States also have a Data Team or Working Group that functions as a support for the overall plan.
  • Safety Partners—Legislation provides a list of required stakeholders. This is just the minimum who should be involved. States have added other public- and private-sector agencies and organizations that meet their needs. Following is the required list:
    • The Governor’s highway safety representative;
    • Regional and metropolitan transportation planning organizations;
    • Representatives from the major transportation modes;
    • State and local traffic enforcement officials;
    • The Governor’s highway-rail-grade crossing representative;
    • Representatives conducting a motor carrier safety program;
    • County transportation officials;
    • State representatives of nonmotorized users;
    • Motor vehicle administration agencies; and
    • Other major Federal, State, Tribal, and local safety stakeholders.

“Most of the people who are participating are doing it on a volunteer basis so it is vital to communicate with them. It is important they know their time and expertise is valuable. Keep the participants in the loop or they drop off. Once a year we do a statewide summit, and include all of the partners, not just the decision-makers. It helps people realize they are gathering for a purpose to drive down deaths.”

Lisa Losness, Idaho Traffic Division/Office of Highway Safety

  • Collaboration and Communication with Your Stakeholders—Collaboration and communication is essential to getting and keeping a diverse group of stakeholders active and involved in the SHSP process. Collaborative problem solving means bringing people together to jointly develop solutions to difficult problems such as reducing traffic-related deaths and serious injuries. The FHWA SHSP Stakeholder Involvement Flyer provides information on the benefits of collaboration.

The SHSP document itself should clearly and concisely describe the State’s safety problem and describe a program of priorities and strategies to reduce fatalities and serious injuries on all roadways in the State. Format also is important and should be discussed among the safety partners and the final format should be broadly supported among them. The SHSP Preparation section of the Champion’s Guide to Saving Lives provides some useful recommendations.

Arizona’s Stakeholder Outreach

In Arizona, the SHSP update process included an extensive statewide safety stakeholder outreach effort. Two major safety events and task force work sessions were conducted. The first major event was the Safety Launch, designed to bring together Federal, State, regional, local and Tribal transportation safety stakeholders from across Arizona. This was followed by a Safety Summit, in which stakeholders participated in three rounds of individual task force work sessions between and after the two major safety events. Each task force included industry and subject-matter experts and other transportation-safety advocates. These task forces worked to establish the SHSP Emphasis Areas and develop proposed strategies and action steps to improve safety. The Arizona SHSP has more information on the effort.

Resources and Links on SHSP Leadership, Collaboration, and Communication

  • Champion’s Guide to Saving Lives (Second Edition)This document reviews the basic principles and important considerations concerning the development, implementation, and evaluation of a Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP). It is intended as a resource for States to consult during examination of their SHSP process, as well during SHSP updates.
  • SHSP Implementation Process ModelThe Implementation Process Model (IPM) provides the essential eight elements and steps that will help States successfully implement their plan.
  • SHSP Technical Assistance

Step 2—Collect and Analyze Data

Using data to identify safety problems is fundamental to a successful SHSP. Just as development of the SHSP is a data-driven process, an effective implementation process also depends on appropriate use of data. The type of data for your SHSP includes:

“We know we have a really great document because it is 100 percent data driven which is something we can fall back on every time. The data showed us what to do. The SHSP is a great planning document that points to where we are going and why we are going there. It provides justification for the projects we are doing.”

Emily G. Thomas, South Carolina Department of Public Safety

  • Crash data;
  • Roadway data;
  • Traffic data;
  • Driver records;
  • Vehicle registration;
  • Injury surveillance;
  • Citation, prosecution, and adjudication; and
  • Other data such as demographics from the Census Bureau, data from insurance companies, etc.

Crash data is generated from reports from law enforcement officers and may be managed by the State law enforcement agency, State Highway Safety Office, or the Department of Transportation. Roadway data is maintained by the DOT; driver and vehicle records by Department of Motor Vehicles; injury surveillance by the Department of Health; and citation, prosecution, and adjudication data by the courts.

There are many uses for the data, such as:

  • Description of the safety problem in the State;
  • Selection of emphasis areas;
  • Identification of strategies and action steps;
  • Development of performance measures and measurable objectives for the plan;
  • Identification of needed improvements; and
  • Directing limited resources to the highest potential for reducing fatalities and serious injuries.

Ohio’s Data Fact Sheets

Ohio uses data to inform their SHSP emphasis areas and to educate SHSP stakeholders, public officials, and others about the SHSP. Emphasis Area Fact Sheets provide some general background information along with specific information on who is involved in the crashes, where and when the crashes occurred, and any contributing factors such as speeding, vehicle and crash type, etc. To view copies of these safety fact sheets, visit the Ohio SHSP Web page (go to Emphasis Area Pages, and click on the Safety Fact Sheet you want to view).

Resources and Links for Data

  • Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)FARS is a Nationwide census which provides data on fatal injuries suffered in motor vehicle traffic crashes.
  • Traffic Records Coordinating CommitteeThe DOT Traffic Records Coordinating Committee (DOT|TRCC) is a multimodal group with members from FHWA, FMCSAM, NHTSA, and RITA that works to improve the collection, management, and analysis of traffic safety data at the State and Federal level. Similar committees exist in each State and are usually managed by the Highway Safety Office.
  • Applying Safety Data and Analysis to Performance-Based Transportation PlanningThis guidebook provides State and regional planners with information on how to effectively use safety data and analysis tools in performance-based transportation planning and programming processes.
  • Data Technical Assistance
    • Crash Data Improvement Program (CDIP)The CDIP is intended to provide States with a means to measure the quality of the information within their crash database. It is can provide States with metrics to measure where their crash data stands in terms of its timeliness, the accuracy and completeness of the data, the consistency of all reporting agencies reporting the information in the same way, the ability to integrate crash data with other safety databases and how the State makes the crash data accessible to users.
    • Roadway Data Improvement Program (RDIP)—The Roadway Safety Data Program works to improve safety data and expand capabilities for analysis and evaluation by providing tools and resources. A toolbox is available to help agencies find the appropriate tool based on their specific needs and capabilities.
    • NHTSA Traffic Records Assessment—NHTSA’s assessments are peer evaluations of State traffic records system capabilities. Using the online State Traffic Records Assessment Program (STRAP), independent subject matter experts from State, local, and other areas examine State responses to a uniform set of questions and rate the responses against the ideal set out in the Traffic Records Program Assessment Advisory.
  • FMCSA Analysis and Information Online (A&I)A&I is FMCSA’s online resource center for analytical data, statistics, recent studies, and reports on truck and bus safety.
  • National EMS Information (NEMSIS) Web SiteNEMSIS is the national EMS database that includes data and information collected throughout the EMS system. Information is available on tools that are used, reports, etc.

Step 3—Put Your Plan into Action

Select Emphasis Areas

Each SHSP identifies the areas where they want to focus. These emphasis areas should be selected based on an analysis of available data and input from safety stakeholders representing the the 4 Es of safety. Emphasis areas may change during SHSP updates based on the results of ongoing safety data analysis. Many States have found a fewer number of emphasis areas (usually between four and eight) helps direct efforts and makes the SHSP a more “strategic” and effective plan.

Percent of Total Fatalities and Serious Injuries By Crash Characteristic

This figure is a bar chart showing the Total Fatalities and Serious Injuries by Crash Characteristic for one state. Speeding-involved crashes have the highest number of fatalities and serious injuries, followed by impaired driver involved, unrestrained/unprotected occupant, motorcycle involved, and distracted driver involved. These are the states top focus or emphasis areas.

Source: Arizona 2014 Strategic Highway Safety Plan.

To select emphasis areas, some States start with a list of emphasis areas identified in the Towards Zero Deaths: A National Strategy for Highway Safety or the American Association of State Transportation Officials Strategic Highway Safety Plan and then look at the number of traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries and select those areas with the greatest number as shown in the figure.

Other factors also can be used to select emphasis areas such as:

  • Policy considerations such as a focus on nonmotorized transportation; and
  • Areas that are showing increases above and beyond any increases in overall fatalities and serious injuries.

Determine Fatality and Serious Injury Measurable Objectives

SHSP Tip—Setting Objectives

Here are some suggestions for setting achievable and measurable fatality and serious injury objectives:

  • Use five-year rolling averages to even out the ups and downs in the numbers.
  • Show stakeholders several options for the amount of reduction, for instance the percentage reduction if the goal is the AASHTO goal to halve fatalities by half by 2030, or the percentage reduction being used by the Highway Safety Office in their HSP. What works best for your SHSP?
  • Make sure the objectives are SMART:
    S – Specific;
    M – Measurable;
    A – Achievable;
    R – Realistic; and
    T – Time Bound.

Most States include in their SHSP measurable objectives for the statewide fatalities and serious injuries. We use the term objectives because that indicates the specific, measurable progress the State wants to achieve. Goals are broad, general statements that relate to the overall mission.

SHSP measurable objectives are not the same thing as the annual safety targets required for the HSIP and the HSP since the SHSP is a five-year plan. States, however, can use the SHSP process as a starting point for aligning the method used for establishing all objectives and targets. Since annual targets are updated more frequently than the multiyear SHSP objectives—and should take into account the impact of planned programs and projects—annual HSP and HSIP targets may deviate from the multiyear SHSP objectives.

Once the method is agreed upon (by the State Department of Transportation, State Highway Safety Office, and other SHSP stakeholders involved in developing annual targets, e.g., Metropolitan Planning Organizations), States can develop the fatality and serious injury objectives for the multiyear period of the SHSP.

Learn more in the SHSP Guidance in the section “A Performance-Based Approach.”

States also may choose to set measurable objectives for each emphasis area. Setting these objectives can:

  • Follow the same process that was used to set the overall fatality and serious injury objectives; or
  • States can calculate what percentage of the overall fatality and serious injury each emphasis area represents and calculate the reductions accordingly.

Resources and Links for Identifying Measurable Objectives

Select the Strategies and Actions that will Help You Meet your SHSP Goals and Objectives

Strategies detail how the State will achieve each objective. If the objective is to reduce lane departures by 10 percent over the next five years, then what will the State need to do to achieve that reduction? One strategy could be to identify the most hazardous lane-departure locations in the State and reduce lane-departure crashes at those locations while another strategy could be to install rumble strips on principal arterials.

  • The actions then detail what steps need to be taken to implement that strategy, i.e., obtain base line data, conduct road safety audits, conduct high-visibility enforcement campaigns, etc. Each action should include an action plan that provides more detail such as what agency or organization will take the lead on ensuring the action is implemented, what resources are needed (staff, equipment), what is the timeline and budget, and what is the scope (statewide or a local/regional pilot). Action plans turn SHSP concepts and ideas into a reality that saves lives and prevents injuries.

For more information, go to the Develop Emphasis Area Action Plans section of the SHSP Implementation Process Model.

Vermont’s SHSP Supplement Details SHSP Actions

Vermont has developed an SHSP Supplement, which acts as the work plan for the SHSP and outlines the framework that the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance (VHSA) and its safety partners will utilize to advance Vermont’s safety initiatives. The Supplement includes action plans with a description of the actions for each individual strategy, along with the action plan champion, potential partners to assist in the implementation of the plan, and the targeted goal. The VHSA, its Focus Groups, and other safety partners have worked diligently to create aggressive but achievable action plans to forward Vermont’s agenda on road safety and reduce major crashes. The action plans are developed in a collaborative process and reach across all disciplines of roadway safety (Education, Enforcement, Engineering, and Emergency Services).

Resources and Links for Strategy Selection

  • FHWA Office of Safety Proven Safety CountermeasuresThe FHWA Office of Safety compiled this list of nine proven countermeasures to address crashes that occur in the focus areas of intersections, pedestrians, and roadway departure.
  • NHTSA Countermeasures That WorkThis publication is a basic reference to assist State Highway Safety Offices (SHSO) in selecting effective, evidence-based countermeasures for nine traffic safety problem areas: Alcohol- and Drug-Impaired Driving; Seat Belts and Child Restraints; Speeding and Speed Management; Distracted and Drowsy Driving; Motorcycle Safety; Young Drivers; Older Drivers; Pedestrians; and Bicycles.
  • Motor Vehicle Prioritizing Interventions and Cost Calculator for States (MV PICCS)CDC offers a new interactive calculator, called the Motor Vehicle PICCS (Prioritizing Interventions and Cost Calculator for States), pronounced “picks.” This tool will help State decision makers prioritize and select from a suite of 12 effective motor vehicle injury prevention interventions. MV PICCS is designed to calculate the expected number of injuries prevented and lives saved at the State level and the costs of implementation, while taking into account available resources.
  • NCHRP 500 Series: Guidance for Implementation of the AASHTO Strategic Highway Safety Plan Transportation ResearchThe National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) has developed a series of guides to assist State and local agencies in reducing injuries and fatalities in targeted areas. The guides correspond to the emphasis areas outlined in the AASHTO Strategic Highway Safety Plan. Each guide includes a brief introduction, a general description of the problem, the strategies/countermeasures to address the problem, and a model implementation process.
  • NCHRP 622: Effectiveness of Behavioral Highway Safety CountermeasuresThe purpose of this report is to develop a roadmap for States, and a best practices guide for the use and assessment of behavioral countermeasures. All countermeasures that are used or could be used are considered and the cost and/or effectiveness is indicated when available.
  • Toward Zero Deaths (TZD): A National Strategy on Highway SafetyToward Zero Deaths is the United States’ highway safety vision and is presented as the only acceptable target for the Nation, families, and individuals. The Web site includes information on the TZD Communication Plan, how to become a participant, and a video on how everyone’s efforts are helping.
  • FHWA Crash Modification Factors ClearinghouseThe Crash Modification Factor (CMF) Clearinghouse offers transportation professionals a central, Web-based repository of CMFs, as well as additional information and resources related to CMFs.

Step 4—Integrate the SHSP into Other Transportation and Safety Plans

Effective SHSP implementation leverages the resources of other transportation planning and programming activities. The SHSP can be integrated into existing transportation and safety planning processes, such as HSIP, HSP, Long-Range Transportation Plans (LRTP), Commercial Vehicle Safety Plans (CVSP), and Statewide Transportation Improvement Programs (S/TIP). This integration is important for improving overall safety coordination and linkages among the State, regional, local, and Tribal agencies and lead to a more comprehensive approach to transportation safety planning. It also ensures all agencies understand the key safety priorities.

Noteworthy Practice—Plan Integration

Delaware integrates its SHSP with other State plans and programs by forming a committee of coordinating agencies; aligning goals and strategies; identification of roles and responsibilities for leading 4 Es strategies; and strengthened partnerships. More information on Delaware’s process is available.

  • Find your State’s Highway Safety Plan (HSP)—The HSP is the document that is developed annually by the State Highway Safety Office and details what programs and activities the State will be conducting in the coming fiscal year. A companion Year End Report provides information on how well the State met the goals and objectives in the HSP.
  • Access your State’s HSIP Annual Report, which describes the progress being made to implement highway safety improvement projects; assesses the effectiveness of those improvements; and describes the extent to which the improvements have contributed to reducing fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads.
  • Learn more about the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) and State Commercial Vehicle Plans (CVSP). MCSAP is designed to help commercial vehicle carriers and drivers improve their safety performance, and CVSPs outline what strategies and actions will be taken to reach that goal.

Step 5—Market Your Plan

Marketing is the process for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging information about your SHSP to the public, to safety stakeholders, and to elected officials. Marketing benefits SHSP implementation efforts in several ways: it increases awareness of the SHSP goal to reduce traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries; educates key political leaders on their role in saving lives; and helps address those SHSP elements that require behavior change. Marketing the SHSP can involve the creation of a separate SHSP Web site, an SHSP Web page on the State’s DOT Web site, a link to a TZD type of Web site, a Facebook page, newsletters, electronic bulletins, tweets, etc. Learn more about marketing your SHSP.

Louisiana Marketing and Communication

Louisiana uses a variety of methods to market their SHSP. The have a Destination Zero Deaths (DZD) Web site which features the SHSP and all plan related activities, a Destination Zero Deaths Facebook page, a Twitter account, and they publish a quarterly newsletter that is delivered to all SHSP stakeholders. The State also has formed a Communications Coordinating Council that involves representatives from the SHSP Steering Committee, the nine regional safety coalitions, and experts at marketing and public relations from various State and local agencies. The group meets quarterly and has developed a Communications Plan to help market the SHSP and assist in implementing SHSP strategies and actions that focus on marketing. For more information, visit the DZD Web site.

Step 6—Evaluate Your Plan

SHSP Tip—Typical Evaluation Measures

  • Fatalities;
  • Serious injuries;
  • Behavior changes; and
  • Knowledge gains.

Today all States are implementing SHSPs, and some are asking questions about SHSP effectiveness, e.g., which elements work well and which do not meet expectations. An organized approach to evaluation helps answer some basic questions such as:

  • Are we doing things right, i.e., did we do what we said we were going to do?
  • Are we doing the right things, i.e., are we making a difference?
  • How can we improve?

In addition, regularly recurring evaluation is a requirement of the SHSP to ensure the accuracy of data and proposed strategies. This is because safety improvements depend on a program of data-driven priorities and proven effective strategies. Evaluation helps States achieve such a program by analyzing SHSP process and performance and determining whether current activities deserve enhancement, revision, or replacement.

Noteworthy Practice—Evaluation Results

The Nevada SHSP compiles their SHSP evaluation results into an Annual Report, which shows progress for their performance measures and supporting data. More information on Nevada’ process is available.

Evaluation is intended to take the place of trial and error, guesswork based on anecdotal evidence, and intuition. Evaluation helps States assess the progress of their SHSP and identify opportunities for improvement. The results can help strengthen the SHSP process and performance and in so doing improve the State’s transportation safety.

Elements of SHSP evaluation already are in place in many States; however, additional benefits can be realized by organizing and institutionalizing these elements into a comprehensive program evaluation, as outlined in the SHSP Evaluation Process Model (EPM). Program evaluation looks at the overall SHSP. It can identify where SHSP and emphasis area goals are met or unmet and point toward likely strengths or shortcomings, i.e., the failure to implement certain strategies or the identification of strategies not having the expected effect. The EPM can help States address the evaluation requirement as well. Learn more about conducting an SHSP evaluation in the SHSP EPM.

SHSP Tip—Join Safety Talk

Safety Talk is an online SHSP discussion forum dedicated to sharing strategies and approaches for updating, implementing, and evaluating SHSPs. Safety Talk membership is by invitation. If you’re not already registered, contact Jennifer Warren and ask to be a member!

(202) 366-2157

Resources and Links for SHSP Evaluation

SHSP Evaluation Process Model (EPM)The EPM assists States with conducting a program evaluation of their SHSP. Program evaluation looks at the overall SHSP process, helping States assess how they develop, manage, and implement their SHSP. It also examines the SHSP’s performance and identifies if goals and objectives are being met. The EPM will help States answer basic questions of program evaluation, such as: What are we trying to do? How well are we doing it? How can we improve?

Traffic Safety Performance Measures for States and Federal AgenciesThis publication contains a minimum set of performance measures to be used by State and Federal agencies in the development and implementation of behavioral highway safety plans and programs.

The Art of Appropriate EvaluationThis guide describes the benefits of evaluation of provides an overview of the steps involved.

Connect With Your SHSP Community

You have been given a lot of information, resources, and links to more information. If you visit the SHSP Community of Practice, you will find it all there too! You also can visit FHWA’s SHSP Web page. Make sure to bookmark these sites.

The SHSP Community of Practice (COP) is an online community for SHSP practitioners and stakeholders who represent the 4 Es of safety (engineering, enforcement, education, and emergency services/response). Here you will have the opportunity to learn about the latest SHSP resources, noteworthy practices, and events as well as interact with peers on SHSP-related issues through the Safety Talk discussion Forum.

Screen shot of the Strategic Highway Safety Plan Communities of Practice web site.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration.

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Page last modified on August 28, 2020
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