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Tools and Practices for System Wide Safety Improvement

Appendix C: Safety Planning Peer Exchange

Peer Exchange Overview

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) hosted a Safety Planning and Performance Management Peer Exchange event in Atlanta, Georgia, on October 16-17, 2012. This Peer Exchange was designed to provide an opportunity to present and discuss FHWA's Framework for System-Wide Safety Impact Prediction, as well as various tools and methods that states and MPOs are using to identify and prioritize projects for safety improvement.

Peer Exchange Background

Peer Exchange participants were selected for their involvement in instituting proactive safety planning and performance management practices within their state DOTs and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs). Nearly all Peer Exchange participants had been involved with an earlier phase of FHWA's case study research on system-wide safety performance tools and practices and had participated in multiple phone calls with the research team to describe their organizations' safety planning practices, use of safety data as part of the planning process, and use of performance measures and performance targets.

Presentation and group discussion modules were designed to highlight current methods being used to incorporate safety into transportation projects and share new, innovative ideas for expanding collaboration and implementing new tools. Over the course of the Peer Exchange, attendees met in small groups to identify gaps and challenges to predicting safety outcomes and accurately measuring success of their highway safety programs. Individuals also shared their visions for highway safety prediction tools in the future and the research needs and opportunities to enhance safety prediction practices across a suite of projects, and reported back to the larger audience. This document summarizes the information captured during the Peer Exchange. Information from the Peer Exchange will be incorporated into a final report delivered to FHWA in the summer of 2013.

Discussion Themes

The discussion over the two-day Peer Exchange broke out into four thematic areas – performance management of safety programs, data, communication, and effective knowledge transfer. Attendees each brought to bear their unique experience, describing wants, needs, challenges and best practices across each theme. Many of the key points that were discussed here reinforced findings from earlier case studies the research team identified.

Theme Key Points Discussed at Peer Exchange

Performance Management of Safety Programs

  • Use and projected impacts of individual safety countermeasures is well understood; projecting the results of system-wide suite of safety countermeasures has not been done.
  • Performance measurement is institutionalized in many states and MPOs decision-making processes; the number and rate of highway fatalities and injuries are common measures used. However, setting performance targets and measuring the impact of projects/programs on achieving those targets is not a common practice.
  • Safety is often addressed in standalone projects rather than integrated through planning, engineering, operations, and maintenance.
  • The increased focus on performance-based programs in MAP-21 may benefit safety programs because fatality and injury data is often more available than other highway performance measures.


  • Because crash data is often used to identify countermeasures for individual high crash locations, accurate geo-location data on all crash location and highway features is needed.
  • The ability to use timely and robust data enhances organizational capabilities to prioritize projects and justify decisions throughout the safety planning lifecycle.
  • It is difficult to collect exposure data on the number and amount of pedestrian and bicycle travel. That limits comparison capabilities for fatality and injury data for ped/bike crashes.
  • Future data sets need to be expanded and linked to other non- traditional types of roadway and crash data (e.g., university research, hospital reports, National Studies Center) to provide a more holistic view of and approach to safety.
  • Many tools (e.g., SafetyAnalyst) and guidance documents (e.g., HSM) require additional training or data formatting before use.


  • States and MPOs rely on both formal and informal communication channels for information, guidance, and best practices.
  • The sheer volume of information/guidance available to states and MPOs makes it difficult to down-select and prioritize projects.
  • Events such as this peer exchange reinforce the need to continue expanding professional networks and encourage knowledge transfer.

Effective Knowledge Transfer

  • Opportunities exist to improve the sharing of best practices among FHWA headquarters, states, and localities.
  • The 9 Proven Countermeasures Memo is an example of effective knowledge transfer – simple and direct.
  • MAP-21 will require increased coordination among all levels involved in safety planning (e.g., U.S. DOT HQ, FHWA Division Offices, state DOTs, and MPOs).

The follow table contains a list of participants who attended the Peer Exchange, as well as their organization. Special thanks to all of those who participated in this important event.

Name Organization
Kyung-Hwa Kim Atlanta Regional Commission
Alia Awwad was Atlanta Regional Commission
(now Jacobs Engineering)
Bala Akundi Baltimore Metropolitan Council
Joe Santos Florida Department of Transportation
Norm Cressman Georgia Department of Transportation
Kajal Pater Southeast Michigan Council of Governments
Pat Morin Washington State Department of Transportation
Greg Morris FHWA Georgia Division Office
Esther Strawder FHWA Headquarters
Heather Rothenberg FHWA Headquarters
Danena Gaines Cambridge Systematics
Susan Knisely Booz Allen Hamilton
Jocelyn Lewis Booz Allen Hamilton
Alex Jendzejec Booz Allen Hamilton

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