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FHWA Home / Safety / Transportation Safety Planning (TSP) / Tools and Practices for System Wide Safety Improvement

Tools and Practices for System Wide Safety Improvement

5. Suggested Bridging Options

Given organizational differences, it is unlikely that there is a single solution that will adequately satisfy the needs of all states and MPOs. Consequently, entities should have the ability to choose the best course of action that satisfies their specific needs, and which can be implemented and sustained within current and anticipated resource constraints. The following is a list of items states and MPOs may be able to use to help them effectively deploy the Safety Focused Decision Making Framework.

Conduct a Capability Maturity Analysis to Determine Organizational Gaps

Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) incorporates proven approaches for process improvement and organizational change management to help an organization improve the processes it uses to conduct its core business functions. To facilitate process improvement, CMMI helps an organization examine its current processes; establish priorities for improvement of those processes; and implement these improvements across the organization. CMMI is not intended to be prescriptive or to define how to achieve an optimized safety planning environment. Rather, CMMI provides the essential elements of effective processes to be used by organizations when improving their own safety planning processes. Each organization must use professional judgment to interpret the CMMI practices. Although process areas depict behavior that any organization should exhibit, practices must be interpreted using an in-depth knowledge of the CMMI model, the organization, the business environment, and the various other specific circumstances involved. To interpret the model's practices, it is important to consider the overall context in which they are used and determine how well the practices satisfy the goals of a process area within that context.

Figure 12: Illustrative Capability Maturity Model
Fig 12: Illustrative Capability Maturity Model

FHWA is well positioned to take the lead in developing a Capability Maturity Model to serve as a self-assessment tool for states or MPOs to determine where they are in safety program performance management continuum, and what they need to do to get to the next level. CMMI models do not imply which processes are right for a given state, MPO, or project. Instead, CMMI models establish criteria necessary to plan and implement processes selected by the organization for improvement based on business objectives. Figure 12 is an illustrative Capability Maturity Model that could be used by states and MPOs in their efforts to achieve the Safety Focused Decision Making Framework.

Institute Segmented Safety Planning Courses

One of the most salient issues discussed at the Safety Planning Peer Exchange was the lack of uniformity with regard to training opportunities for safety planners at the states and MPOs. This inequity was also appreciated between varying levels of seniority and administrative responsibility within a given state or MPO (i.e., executive vs. mid-level manager vs. staff). That is to say, for multiple reasons, a one-size-fits-all training approach to the deployment of new tools and guidance is ineffective.

The safety planning environment would benefit from scalable safety planning courses made available through a respected organization such as the National Highway Institute (NHI) or other similar training academies. Figure 13 illustrates how shifting the specific focus of a class, or targeting a segment of the safety planning community would increase the applicability of lessons learned and overall usefulness of the training.

Figure 13: Illustrative Course Focus Segmented for Different Roles Executive
Figure 13: Illustrative Course Focus Segmented for Different Roles

As the training program matures, classes could progress from a few half-day classes and perhaps evolve to industry-recognized certifications or intensive rotations.

Providing a new formal venue for safety planners to meet and network would be an additional advantage of these courses. The intermingling of safety planners from different regions with diverse perspectives and needs would foster dissemination of best practices and could help close some of the existing gaps described earlier. If these courses were to take a true multi-disciplinary approach, ultimately, they would help bridge the gaps between engineers and planners by giving them a common understanding and approach to addressing the needs of the environment.

Develop and Distribute Knowledge and Technology Transfer (KTT) Toolkits

As discussed earlier, as federal and state funding is often uncertain, funding innovations and alternate sources of funding may help state and local transportation organizations maximize safety gains. States and local transportation agencies should also identify opportunities to include safety improvement elements into other transportation projects at the early stages (e.g., roadway design and construction). Exploring alternate funding sources and alternatives to incorporate safety in infrastructure projects is especially important when transportation appropriations slow or decrease.

To develop a KTT toolkit, safety planners would first identify target stakeholders. From there, a mix of KTT products, tools, and tactics to deliver key messages and inform/engage stakeholders would be developed. Finally, they would foster the adoption of safety planning concepts and practices through the deployment of the products, tools, tactics and activities outlined in a formal KTT plan. An effective safety planning KTT toolkit would include the following items to help familiarize stakeholders with the safety planner's paradigm and concerns:

If deployed nationally, the impact that KTT toolkits would have on the safety planning environment would be substantial. The KTT toolkits would encourage the sharing of best practices, expand the availability of robust data sets, and foster innovative solutions to systemic challenges.

Expansion Beyond Traditional Funding Sources

As discussed earlier, given that federal and state funding may be limited and not all transportation project funding includes a safety component, funding innovations and alternate sources of funding may help state and local transportation organizations maximize safety gains. Exploring alternate funding sources and alternatives to incorporate safety in infrastructure projects is especially important when transportation appropriations slow or decrease. An example of a strategy to expand funding is for safety planners to collaborate with engineers during the roadway design phase to include safety elements as part of the roadway design.

Figure 14: Predicting Project Versus Program Outcomes
Figure 14: Predicting Project Versus Programs Outcomes

Additional Research

More research is needed to define a broadly accepted method for calculating the expected safety outcomes across multiple projects within a program portfolio. Safety planners have become very adept at using available tools to help predict safety outcomes for specific projects, but have not yet effectively broadened their predictive capabilities to evaluate a larger program portfolio, as illustrated in Figure 14.

Whatever methodology is ultimately developed to meet this need, the analysis will need to take into account the additional benefits, unexpected challenges, and unintended consequences (positive and negative) of different project groupings. This will be a key element in the maturing of safety planning data collection and analysis capabilities as more accurate predictions of program level safety outcomes will help achieve FHWA's Safety Focused Decision Making Framework.


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Page last modified on October 29, 2014.
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