U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Skip to content
Facebook iconYouTube iconTwitter iconFlickr iconLinkedInInstagram


FHWA Home / Safety / Transportation Safety Planning (TSP) / Transportation Safety Planning (TSP)

Transportation Safety Planning (TSP)

Graphical header that has the title: Building Links to Improve Safety: How Safety and Transportation Planning Practitioners Work Together

Module 3: Improving Safety through Coordination

Module 3 demonstrates methods and practices for integrating the safety and transportation planning processes to produce safer roadways for all road users. The goal is to create a surface transportation system with zero fatalities and serious injuries.


Modules 1 and 2 addressed the fundamentals of the safety and transportation planning disciplines, such as the stakeholders involved, legislation, planning processes and products, and funding mechanisms. Each process has clear goals and performance measures; key stakeholders; data, analysis methods, and tools; and process outcomes (i.e., plans, programs), which are implemented and evaluated as an outcome of the planning processes. The purpose of Module 3 is to provide Departments of Transportation (DOT), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Division offices, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO), Tribal governments, local agencies, and transit agencies with a guide for integrating the two processes. In some cases, integration of the two processes may not be possible. However, coordination and alignment can still add overall value and the focus should be on outcome rather than the course of action.

Once safety specialists and transportation planners have a clear understanding of each other’s responsibilities and processes, the next step is to identify effective methods for the two groups to communicate priorities, share information, discuss project alternatives, inform each other of upcoming plans and programs, and coordinate safety and planning efforts. This concept has been the subject of a number of research efforts, including:

This module uses information from the NCHRP 811 report and the collection of information gathered from research and interviews conducted with transportation planners and safety specialists. This information is summarized around five strategies to be used to enhance communication, collaboration, and coordination between the safety and transportation planning processes:

  1. Use committees and groups to expand multidisciplinary communication and collaboration.
  2. Data sharing and analysis to enhance consideration of transportation safety in the planning process.
  3. Long-range, metropolitan, regional, and local transportation planning coordination.
  4. Integrate safety into transportation planning processes.
  5. Develop education and training programs on safety and planning.

This module explains the importance of each strategy and steps for enhancing linkages between safety and transportation planning. It targets actionable steps for safety specialists and transportation planners, but a broader audience of State DOT engineers, city and county public works directors, and other transportation practitioners could benefit from applying these strategies.

Multidisciplinary Communication and Collaboration

Modules 1 and 2 discussed safety and transportation outreach mechanisms to communicate and collaborate with stakeholders. Multidisciplinary committees offer the opportunity for safety specialists and transportation planners to meet with peers and network, share technical activities and information, and learn more about actions where disciplines can coordinate to realize a shared goal Involvement may include providing an update on current and future programs and projects, presenting on a technical topic, or providing input for future planning and programming. The following sections discuss committees or groups where linkages between safety and transportation planning can be discussed.

Join Strategic Highway Safety Plan Committees and Participate in Safety Events

Iowa DOT uses its SHSP Advisory Team as a conduit to coordinate safety and transportation planning. The Planning Division is represented on the team. The team meets quarterly to coordinate plans and programs. The Planning Division representative provides updates on transportation plans and activities relevant to safety and takes information on the SHSP strategies and activities back to planning staff.

Through the Strategic Highway Safety Plans (SHSP) process, the State’s key safety priorities are determined and evidenced-based solutions are identified through a data-driven, multidisciplinary collaboration process. The process results in emphasis areas, strategies, and actions for improving safety. To enhance inclusivity, States often establish committees or teams to address specific issue areas. The teams assist with SHSP updates and implementation processes. They may also host outreach activities to inform stakeholders of SHSP goals and strategies.

California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) hosted a Statewide SHSP Summit in the fall of 2014 to gather input from stakeholders for its SHSP update. They also hosted regional summits in 2016 to invigorate local partners and kickoff SHSP implementation. Transportation planners from Caltrans headquarters and the Districts gave presentations on region-specific issues and collision data, safety activities already underway, funding opportunities available for safety planning, infrastructure, and noninfrastructure projects, and safety resources available to help Tribes realize their traffic safety goals. Regional summit participants learned about the newly California SHSP Update, participated in workshop discussions about priority safety strategies and actions for their regions, and learned about safety resources. A key outcome of the summits was to encourage greater coordination with local transportation planning partners.

Collaboration can occur at a number of levels depending on planning objectives. Ideally transportation managers and planners are represented as members of all entities in the SHSP process. The entities are described in Module 1 and include SHSP executive committees, steering committees, and emphasis area teams. Transportation planners can use these teams as one way to identify the SHSP-related strategies and incorporate them into planning and programming. For example, many MPOs develop Pedestrian and Bicycle Plans. These plans may be standalone documents or incorporated into the Metropolitan Transportation Plan and would typically include consideration of safety in the pedestrian and bicycle planning process. As another opportunity for collaboration, some States and MPOs develop Pedestrian or Bicycle Safety Action Plans. Safety-related issues, needs, projects and strategies from this regional planning effort can inform the SHSP. The transportation planning representative on the Bicycle and Pedestrian Emphasis Area Team can keep the team informed of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan activities and opportunities to provide input. Any data on pedestrian and bicycle usage, user preferences, and safety can be shared with the appropriate Emphasis Area team and used to inform the Emphasis Area Action Plan.

Many States host Statewide or regional safety summits, town hall meetings, and other events to educate stakeholders on the SHSP process, obtain feedback on strategies, share results of an SHSP update, educate participants on noteworthy safety practices and research, and initiate or enhance SHSP implementation. Attendees typically include DOT planning, intermodal, and traffic safety staff; MPO planners and engineers; city and county public works departments; local and State law enforcement agencies; and advocacy groups. Safety specialists should invite transportation planners to give technical presentations on recent planning efforts and opportunities to include safety in studies, plans, and programs. These summits provide opportunities for collaboration and coordination between safety and planning staff at different levels of government.

Regional safety summits are another way to promote the SHSP and bring local stakeholders together to enhance collaboration. Taking the planning process to various regions of the State encourages broader attendance by local agencies. It also promotes participation by local officials (county and city managers, public works directors, and elected or appointed officials). Transportation planners can play a key role in regional summits by soliciting the participation of local planning partners and giving planning updates as an agenda item. Safety specialists can network with local planning partners and develop relationships needed to support safety improvements at the local level.

Participate in Long-Range Planning and Other Transportation Planning Committees

The New Mexico DOT formed a number of special topic committees, one of which focused on safety, for each of the goal areas in the Statewide LRTP update. The safety committee reviewed safety trends, existing conditions, and data; and provided input on the strategies and performance measures included in the plan.

State DOTs, Highway Safety Offices (HSO), and MPOs may form or utilize an existing committee(s) to conduct ongoing outreach during the planning process. One example might be a transportation safety committee tasked with providing input for the safety elements of the Statewide Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) or Metropolitan Transportation Plans (MTP). Safety specialists can share ideas, safety trend analyses, and information on safety performance during the Statewide LRTP/MTP updates. By including safety specialists, the planning process can be opened up to directly integrate safety into the goal setting, issue identification, solution generation, and prioritization processes.

The Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) Destination Safety Leadership membership includes local, regional, State, and Federal representatives from transportation, emergency response, law enforcement, public health, and nonprofit groups dedicated to transportation safety. The Leadership Team and MARC planning staff support the coalition [what coalition?] by providing technical expertise, participating in discussions on safety target setting, and sharing information on other transportation plan updates.

MPO Technical Advisory Committees (TAC) are typically made up of representatives from the local jurisdictions, DOT staff, transit agencies, and Federal government, e.g., FHWA and Federal Transit Administration (FTA). They usually meet monthly or quarterly to provide input and make recommendations to the MPO Executive Board. MPOs also may have other committees to address specific modes or topics. At TAC meetings, MPOs may discuss safety challenges, report performance, and update the TAC on any safety projects or initiatives in progress. Some MPOs include it as a standing agenda item on the TAC agenda, but it also can be discussed on an as-needed basis. The same is true for other committees focused on topics, such as freight or bicycle/pedestrian, where safety is often a topic of importance. Some MPOs also may have a safety committee to communicate with transportation and safety stakeholders specifically on the topic.

Many State HSOs have program-specific strategic plans for occupant protection, traffic records, pedestrian safety, and other program areas. In fact, in order to qualify for 405 funding, many States are required to have strategic plans in place. In addition, there are numerous advisory committees or task forces for several of the program areas, such as teen driving, or impaired driving.

All of these committees can provide a forum for transportation planners and safety specialists to coordinate planning products and share transportation safety information. Existing safety committees at the State level are typical as a division, office, or bureau; however, MPO safety issues are more often represented by an ad hoc committee, such as a task force. In addition, safety specialists and transportation planners can use regional safety coalitions as a conduit to enhance the link between planning and safety processes, both at the State level and within regional and local agencies. These groups can serve as a forum to identify local projects, opportunities to consolidate safety and planning projects into a single effort, and funding to address both safety and planning needs. Examples of this approach include the following:

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) uses nine regional safety coalitions to implement the SHSP at the local/regional level. The DOTD provides regional safety coordinators who establish and manage coalitions and develop regional safety plans reflecting SHSP goals, objectives, and proven effective strategies. The regional safety coalitions can compete for funding to implement Statewide or regional strategies and actions in the SHSP or regional safety plans.

  • In Florida, multidisciplinary regional safety coalitions are called Community Traffic Safety Teams (CTST), and are comprised of local, city, State, and private industry stakeholders and interested citizens. The groups are focused on reducing fatalities and serious injuries within the community boundaries. For example, The Pinellas CTST is chaired by the Pinellas MPO staff and Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) projects in the region must be presented to this group to be eligible for funding. This requirement helps streamline the HSIP process in the region and encourages the development of HSIP projects as an outcome of the CTST.
  • In Iowa, Multidisciplinary Safety Teams (MDST) are local safety coalitions populated by transportation and safety stakeholders. They convene to identify and collaborate on safety projects and programs. Meeting activities can include facilitated discussions on safety issues, crash analysis workshops, construction zone management, safety audits, safety corridor evaluation, local media, and marketing campaign efforts, and other multimodal planning topics. The teams enhance communication and collaboration between Iowa DOT planners and safety specialists and local planners.
  • Alabama is establishing regional safety coalitions to promote more input and participation in the SHSP from MPOs, cities, and counties. Alabama DOT is using a “bottom up” approach to update the SHSP. This approach involves developing regional coalitions to provide input for data-driven regional safety action plans. Each plan will identify the most pressing traffic safety challenges (emphasis areas) and outline strategies to reduce fatalities and serious injuries in the region. The regional plans will be used to update the overall Statewide SHSP in 2017.

State DOTs provide support and technical assistance to Tribes through Tribal liaison offices or committees. These offices or committees are responsible for coordinating planning and safety efforts with Tribes. Transportation planners and safety specialists can support Tribal safety efforts by sharing data and analysis with Tribal safety committees, providing presentations on relevant planning projects and programs that may be of interest to Tribal lands, and offering assistance to help develop Tribal safety plans.

  • The Mountain West Regional Tribal Technical Assistance Program offers Tribes training on how to develop a safety plan. The program also holds a traffic safety summit that provides workshops, training, and information sessions.
Table 3. Multidisciplinary communication and collaboration.
Transportation Planners Safety Specialists
How can I integrate safety concerns and expertise into the transportation planning process? How can I become more involved in and influence the transportation planning process?
Attend SHSP Steering Committee and/or Emphasis Area Team meetings and identify SHSP-related strategies to incorporate into planning and programming. Invite State, regional, and local planners to present at and participate in SHSP Steering Committee and/or Emphasis Area Teams.
Attend and/or present at Statewide/Regional Safety Summits, encourage local planning partners to attend, give presentation on recent planning efforts and opportunities to include safety in studies, plans, and programs. Integrate transportation planning topics and training into Statewide or Regional Safety Summits.

Data Sharing and Analyses

The data and analyses used in each process may be shared and used by both safety specialists and transportation planners. Transportation planners frequently use future population, demographic, and socioeconomic trends, and forecasts to plan for long-term system performance. Safety specialists track and analyze crash, roadway, and exposure data. The safety and transportation planning processes benefit from access and use of these data. Additional details on the data and analytic methods and tools used by safety and transportation planners are included in Modules 1 and 2. State and MPO noteworthy practices for data and analyses sharing are outlined below.


  • The Missouri DOT started hosting monthly Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) conference calls with the MPOs to discuss performance management-related Federal requirements. The first conference call shared information, and subsequent calls focus on safety performance management and data sharing needs to develop safety performance measures and targets. The monthly calls helped State DOT and MPO safety specialists and planners understand each other’s needs and are designed to meet the requirements of the Safety Performance Management Final Rule.
  • Caltrans crash databases, the Transportation Injury Mapping System (TIMS) and the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS) are available online and accessible to MPOs and other transportation and safety stakeholders with a basic registration requirement. They include enhanced functionality, such as creating custom reports and mapping capabilities of specific or systemic crash patterns.
  • The New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) provides access to crash data to transportation planners and safety specialists either through the University of New Mexico (UNM) Division of Government Research (DGR) Web site or by emailing the NMDOT Crash Records reporting office.
  • In the Tennessee DOT, the Long-Range Planning Division and the Safety Office collaborate to share data for overlapping initiatives, such as the Tennessee Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Assessment.
  • The Oregon DOT has formed a partnership with the Oregon Health Authority to collaborate on how to bring health data into the planning process. The intent of the partnership is to have health influence or be considered directly in the DOTs decisionmaking process. The partnership has led to the development of a Health and Transportation Working Group, which includes Oregon DOT and Oregon Health Authority members. Representatives from the Oregon Health Authority also are included on the SHSP committee.
  • The Idaho DOT Office of Highway Safety, along with several other States, publishes an Idaho Traffic Collisions report annually and shares it publically on their Web site. Reports are generated for a number of data sets, including, but not limited to, general collision statistics; collisions by roadway characteristics; collisions by contributing factor (e.g., distracted driving, driver collision statistics); and maps of fatal collision locations.
  • The Iowa DOT provides a Web site with links to geospatial information, including boundary data, road centerlines, linear referencing system, and other information.
  • The Tennessee DOT collects a consistent set of roadway attributes and volume estimates for all public roads. The data are stored in the Tennessee Roadway Information Management System (TRIMS) and is available to DOT Division staff and MPOs.
  • The Ohio DOT Location-Based Response System (LBRS) is a linear referencing centerline network being developed across the State on a county basis. The LBRS project establishes partnerships between State and county government for the creation of spatially accurate street centerlines with address ranges. The DOT provides funding for counties to develop local roadway databases, which are used by State and regional transportation planners to address safety issues.
  • In Utah, a Hot Spot Committee that includes law enforcement, DOT and HSO (Department of Public Safety) representatives was formed to review various data sources and help guide enforcement activity toward high-crash locations. The data the Utah DOT gathers for their infrastructure and speed limit changes is vitally important in helping to guide enforcement activities.


  • The Pennsylvania DOT develops annual Highway Safety Guidance reports for PennDOT districts, MPOs, and Regional Planning Organizations (RPO). Previously, a component of the report included a high-crash location list. Based on feedback, PennDOT revised the reports to provide the high-crash location information through a geographic information system (GIS) online mapping tool and in spreadsheet format. This allows agencies to better visualize crash locations and overlay crash data on district or regional roadway network maps. Districts and MPOs are now using the information to inform planning and project decisions.
  • The Florida DOT (FDOT) has developed and calibrated Florida-based safety performance functions) for most facilities using the Highway Safety Manual (HSM). The DOT also is calibrating intersections. FDOT collaborates with district offices to share information on the safety performance functions (SPF) and analyze crashes for the development of safety project lists.
  • The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) assists the MPOs in collecting and analyzing data for transportation safety planning. NJDOT provided updated lists of high-crash locations for each region ranked by frequency with severity included in the ranking. In partnership with FHWA Division Office and the Resource Center, NJDOT also has provided training on the HSM applications.
  • The Utah DOT conducted research that involved examining the characteristics of fatal pedestrian crashes. From the Utah Department of Public Safety, the Director of the Utah Highway Safety Office was asked to participate on the technical advisory committee to ensure a behavioral expert was on the transportation research project. While the project was primarily geared toward infrastructure, the involvement of the Highway Safety Office director provided the opportunity to ensure the research results could be used to support and strengthen the Highway Safety Plan.
Table 4. Data Sharing and Analyses
Transportation Planners Safety Specialists
How can I offer relevant planning data and analyses to safety specialists and become informed about safety/analyses data I might find useful? How can I ensure safety data and analyses are accessible and used in the development of planning products?
Present forecasts and other trends from the planning process to safety specialists at SHSP committee, MPO technical committee, and regional safety coalition meetings. Present crash data and other related information on safety programs to planners during LRTP/MTP development, Statewide and MPO TAC meetings, and regional coalition meetings.
Become familiar with the data systems and request the most recent and relevant crash data available for the LRTP and MTP, corridor studies, and modal plans. Promote database and safety data sharing platforms to ease access for State and local planners.
Become familiar with roadway data and collaborate with safety specialists to brainstorm opportunities to pair the data with crash data for specific plans and corridor studies. Become familiar with roadway data and collaborate with planners to brainstorm opportunities for pairing the data for specific plans and corridor studies.
Use crash analyses to incorporate safety into LRTP and MTPs, corridor studies, and local safety plans. Ensure planning partners are involved in the Traffic Records Coordinating Committee (TRCC) to advise on issues or challenges.

Long-Range, Metropolitan, Regional, and Local Transportation Planning Coordination

The SHSP provides strategic direction for Statewide safety plans and programs, such as the HSIP, the Highway Safety Plan (HSP), and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Plans (CVSP). The FAST Act requires transportation plans, such as the LRTP and MTP to be coordinated with the SHSP. At a minimum, transportation plans should be consistent with SHSP goals, objectives, and strategies.

Safety specialists and transportation planners use various tactics to coordinate the SHSP with the LRTP and MTP. Some initial steps include reviewing the SHSP goals and strategies and discussing opportunities to coordinate, ensuring safety specialists participate in and provide input during the Statewide LRTP/MTP development processes, and sharing data from the SHSP and other safety analyses for the benefit of the Statewide LRTP/MTP. Coordination examples, including the following:

  • Iowa’s 2012 Long-Range Transportation Plan includes a comprehensive section on safety efforts across the State. The State’s SHSP emphasis areas, other key Statewide safety issues (e.g., distracted driving and emergency operations support) also are included. The plan considers safety issues for other modes of transportation, including aviation, bicycle, pedestrian, public transit, and rail. In the current LRTP, the DOT enhanced the link between the two processes by including the Planning Division on the SHSP Advisory Team and the Director of Traffic Safety on the LRTP Steering Committee. Also, the Director of Traffic Safety is a member of the LRTP Focus Group, which is developing action plans for the LRTP.
  • The Del Norte Transportation Commission in California adopted the emphasis areas and strategies outlined in the California SHSP into the MTP and customized the strategies to address regional and local safety priorities. Additional analysis was conducted at the regional level to identify local safety priorities.

In 2012, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) conducted regional and local level meetings to coordinate SHSP efforts. Since VDOT maintains 85 percent of the roadway network and all county roads, participation by local agencies was high. They wanted to be involved in the planning process since it directly affects them. The meetings enhanced coordination of safety improvement projects with the local agencies.

Some States are implementing SHSPs by providing resources to MPOs and local jurisdictions to develop regional safety action plans, which address regional or local safety challenges using a data-driven process similar to the SHSP planning process. The plans usually address many of the same traffic safety challenges identified in the SHSP, and also provide an opportunity to include a focus on safety issues specific to a region. Below are examples of how two States integrate strategies and priorities from the SHSP into regional safety plans:

  • The Iowa DOT is assisting 12 counties with developing county safety plans. The plans are funded by Iowa DOT and include a list of projects counties can implement to improve safety. The plans are funded by the Traffic Safety Improvement Program, a State-funded improvement program started in 1987, which uses one-half of one percent of State revenue funds to support safety improvements.
  • The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) supports nine regional safety plans designed to support SHSP implementation. The State’s experience shows regional safety planning effectively engages local agencies, which implement the regional safety plans.
Table 5. Long-range, metropolitan, regional, and local transportation planning coordination.
Transportation Planners Safety Specialists
How can I ensure safety stakeholders are fully engaged in the transportation planning process? How can I ensure transportation planners utilize safety planning activities and outcomes in the transportation planning process and documents?
Meet with safety specialists to review SHSP goals and strategies. Identify planning managers/directors to participate on the SHSP Executive Committee and/or Steering Committee.
Invite safety specialists to present data and information during the LRTP and MTP development. Invite planners tasked with relevant topic areas to contribute to SHSP Emphasis Area Teams (e.g., Pedestrian and Bicycle, Freight).
Ask the SHSP Steering Committee how the LRTP and MTP can address SHSP goals, objectives, and strategies. Use regional and local safety coalitions as a source to identify HSIP projects.
Actively participate in regional or local coalitions or safety teams tasked with developing regional and local safety plans.  

Integrate Safety into Transportation Planning Processes

Beyond the multidisciplinary collaboration, data sharing and analyses, and elements of the overall transportation planning processes, opportunities exist for coordination of transportation and safety planning activities. These are outlined below.

Research shows most DOTs and MPOs have incorporated a safety goal and objectives into LRTPs and MTPs, but evidence of safety considerations in the project identification and prioritization process are less common. To ensure safety is considered when projects are identified and prioritized, it is necessary to establish performance measures related to the safety performance of the system. Current legislation requires performance-based planning and programming. The following sections focus on the opportunities to enhance linkages between the safety and planning processes by coordinating performance measures and targets and integrating safety into the project identification and prioritization process.

Performance Measures and Targets

Safety specialists and transportation planners can ensure the performance management process is coordinated by including planners in major meetings and groups tasked with developing and coordinating the annual safety targets, and planners should include safety specialists in any major meetings and groups tasked with establishing annual performance targets for other program areas. Topics to discuss may include data limitations, timing of annual target reporting, target setting methods, and opportunities to monitor progress. The following examples of strategies used to coordinate performance measures and targets were implemented prior to the Final Rule:

  • Caltrans developed a Planning Office Community Development MAP-21 Performance Management Team led by the director’s office to address all MAP-21 goal areas and how to achieve targets. One purpose of the team is to ensure consistency across multiple divisions and make sure all topics are covered.
  • Pennsylvania DOT developed a process to coordinate safety targets across the State. The process involved Pennsylvania DOT assigning each DOT district a target for the required performance measures. The districts then develop a safety action plan designed to achieve their targets.
  • The Portland Metro MPO (Oregon) held a workshop on performance measures. Topics included integrating safety into performance measures, local-level implementation of performance-based planning, and bringing a safety component into LRTP issues. The MPO also had developed a safety plan to frame investment priorities for the region.
  • The New Jersey DOT began monthly meetings with the State’s MPOs along with the New Jersey Director of Highway Traffic Safety on establishing safety performance measure targets. The goal is to collaborate and coordinate the State’s target setting well ahead of the reporting deadlines for the different agencies.

Project Identification

To identify projects, transportation and safety agencies will collect data and conduct analysis; identify crash types and contributing factors; establish crash patterns; conduct field reviews; identify countermeasures; and assess countermeasure effectiveness. Safety specialists should share information and coordinate with State and local planners to identify projects for the HSIP and HSP, and planners should collaborate with safety specialists to overlay crash and safety data with transportation projects and identify opportunities to plan and implement projects with strong safety benefits. The following examples discuss collaborative approaches to project identification:

  • The Indiana DOT prepared a guidance document to assist local public agencies with the identification of HSIP projects. The guidance provides a step-by-step process to identify safety projects and offers resources to assist local planners and engineers, such as information on how and where to access data and a list of eligible project types/countermeasures.
  • The Arizona DOT (ADOT) provided funding to MPOs and Council of Governments (COG) to hire consultant support to develop regional safety plans and identify infrastructure projects eligible for HSIP funding. The general approach to problem identification includes access to crash and roadway data for the State and local routes through the ADOT crash database; conduct network screening to identify the segments and intersections that would benefit from safety improvements; review proven safety countermeasures that would be most effective at addressing crash causation to further prioritize segments and intersections; and apply for HSIP funding through the ADOT application process. The funding has enhanced coordination and collaboration between ADOT planners and safety specialists and MPO/COG planners.
  • In Ohio, the DOT Highway Safety Program Division and Planning Division recognized the need to better incorporate safety analysis into all highway projects. Therefore, the safety and planning staff are working together to incorporate predictive crash analysis into the project identification and development process for all highway projects.
  • As part of the regional safety planning process in Louisiana, the Louisiana DOTD, Louisiana Transportation Research Center (LTAP), and FHWA Division staff worked with interested regional coalitions to analyze crash data on the local road system and, where applicable, conduct road safety assessments to identify low-cost countermeasures. The DOTD provides HSIP funding for eligible safety improvements.
  • New Jersey committed alignment of HSIP infrastructure funds in their most recent 2015 SHSP. Since 60 percent of crashes in New Jersey occur on local roads the New Jersey DOT commits 60 percent of HSIP funds to local roads. Also, this action is identified in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). For the past two years this action has resulted in a five-fold increase of HSIP infrastructure investments on local roads.

Project Prioritization

Once projects have been identified, State DOTs, MPOs, State Highway Safety Offices (SHSO), and other agencies prioritize them for funding. A project prioritization process is used to evaluate a list of potential projects based on performance and plan priorities, and the prioritized list is adopted into the Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (S/TIP). The project prioritization process typically involves a scoring component, incorporating various planning factors and priorities. All agencies are encouraged to adopt a transparent project prioritization process, providing evaluation criteria and application information online. Different elements of prioritization can include qualitative data, the results of data analysis, and benefit-cost ratios. These processes are conducted both for safety improvement programs, such as the HSIP and HSP, as well as for general transportation planning projects encompassing all modes. While safety and transportation identification and prioritization processes are separate, the priorities considered should overlap and be coordinated. Planners and safety specialists can collaborate to help project sponsors fully understand the prioritization process and provide guidance on how to complete an application. The following examples discuss collaborative approaches to safety project prioritization:

  • In California, a local HSIP advisory committee was created to give local and regional agencies a stronger voice in policy/program development and prioritization for local HSIP projects. In addition, Caltrans developed HSIP Guidelines to provide information on the project selection and application process for local HSIP projects. The guidelines helped local planners and engineers understand better the HSIP process and enhanced the link between Caltrans safety and planning staff and the local agency planning and engineering staff.
  • The Utah DOT developed the Utah Roadway Imaging and Inventory Project, which utilizes Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) to gather attributes for all public road mileage in the State. They use the data to examine the geometric attributes that impact safety to aid in project prioritization. They also use the Utah Crash Prediction Model developed by Brigham Young University to prioritize projects. These tools are available to the MPOs and other transportation and safety agencies in the State to identify safety projects or safety benefits in coordination with transportation projects.
  • The Arizona DOT prepared a HSIP Project Application Process and Worksheets resource to help agencies submit projects eligible for HSIP funds. The document provides a list of prioritization criteria, instructions on how to calculate benefit-cost ratio, information on supporting crash data, condensed list of the most effective, proven safety countermeasures, consistency with the State SHSP, and other items. The HSIP application form also is included in the document.
  • Virginia DOT (VDOT) has incorporated safety into the LRTP and the project prioritization process used to rank projects funded by House Bill 2: SMARTSCALE—Funding the Right Transportation Projects. This prioritization process includes six factors: 1) safety; 2) congestion mitigation; 3) accessibility; 4) environmental quality; 5) economic development; and 6) land use and transportation coordination. VDOT developed planning-level crash modification factors (CMF) for common project types. The CMFs allow planners and safety specialists to consistently rank projects based on estimated safety improvements.
  • In New Jersey, HSIP funds are allotted to the three MPOs proportionally to the amount of injury and fatality crashes in each region. Each MPO has a HSIP technical advisory committee that provides their subregions with information on high-crash locations along with applications for projects that include an HSM analysis requirement. Once applications are submitted, the MPO forwards copies to each member of the advisory committee which includes State DOT safety, environment and local aid subject matter experts (SME) who score the applications. The MPO then conducts a meeting to compile the scores and discuss the potential projects for funding investment.

Project Implementation

Once safety projects have been identified and prioritized, they are programmed into the S/TIPs and eligible for implementation. Using a collaborative approach, safety specialists and transportation planners should work together to implement both safety projects and transportation projects with a safety element. The following examples discuss collaborative approaches to safety project implementation:

  • In New Mexico, the HSIP Program Manager oversees transportation planning efforts and the HSIP program. This organizational arrangement has improved collaboration between planning and safety efforts, including safety project planning, project timing, and project obligation rates within the planned year. In addition, the manager interacts with local planning entities and to gain more knowledge of local planning capabilities and technical assistance needs.
  • The Virginia DOT developed Highway Safety Improvement Implementation Guidelines, which include the project planning and development processes for safety programs (e.g., Highway Safety, Bike and Pedestrian Safety, Highway-rail Grade Safety Crossings, and Local Agency Safety).
  • The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC), the MPO for the Pittsburgh region, collaborates with the Pennsylvania DOT (PennDOT) District staff, the local municipalities, and/or counties to review candidate locations. Where applicable, they jointly conduct a road safety audit and prepare a formal report on these locations. Based on the collaborative effort between the State, region, and localities, a number of low-cost safety countermeasures have been implemented throughout the region.
  • The Louisiana DOTD safety and planning staff collaborate on the delivery for all transportation projects. To ensure projects are feasible and can be completed on time and within budget, DOTD uses a six-stage process. Stage-zero develops the project scope and alternatives and assesses feasibility to identify and document safety needs. Understanding and identifying the key safety issues early in the project development process ensures countermeasures are incorporated into project design and project construction.

Modal Plans

Caltrans incorporated elements of the State’s SHSP into its Statewide Complete Streets Action Plan. The two action items related to the SHSP are data driven update, including all modes of transportation, and local assistance for developing bicycle/pedestrian guidance.

States and MPOs also may develop mode-specific plans (e.g., bicycle and pedestrian or freight plans). These plans use a similar transportation planning process as the LRTP/MTP and engage a larger group of key stakeholders close to the mode’s challenges and needs. States and MPOs regularly evaluate and revise these plans. Since States and MPOs also use these plans during the programming process when developing S/TIPs, it is important for safety specialists and transportation planners to coordinate the development and implementation of the plans. Examples of safety specialists and transportation planners coordinating efforts to incorporate safety into other transportation plans:

  • Iowa’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan includes a safety analysis. Safety specialists provided data for the analysis and were involved in the plan development process.
  • A major component of the Iowa Rail Plan includes rail crossing safety issues. The rail division applied for Transportation Safety Improvement Program (TSIP) funds for a rail safety campaign.
  • The Caltrans Roundabout Inventory Report and Ramp Meter Development Plan are two examples of other plans coordinated to include safety. The Roundabout Inventory Report provides background on the safety benefits of roundabouts and maps all the roundabouts in the State. The Traffic Operations, Planning Division and districts coordinate on the report development. The Ramp Meter Development Plan includes several safety elements.
  • The Caltrans Planning Forward Team is responsible for developing Transportation Concept Reports, providing guidance on all State highways for long-range planning. The team includes Statewide district participation, along with traffic operations. Safety is being incorporated into the reports, and the team is looking at ways to discuss safety at the conceptual level.
  • The New Jersey DOT utilized HSIP funds to fund a pedestrian and bicycle safety action plan for the State’s pedestrian focus city. The local MPO took the lead overseeing the identification of high-crash locations in the city and gathered together stakeholders to focus on the top 10 locations for infrastructure improvements. The final plan was endorsed by the mayor to demonstrate local support for the plan. With recommended infrastructure improvements. The plan, with recommended infrastructure improvements for each location, was designed to provide the data for the next HSIP project application for the MPOs annual project solicitation.

Safety Needs in Transportation Plans

Safety issues identified in transportation plans should be incorporated into safety plans, such as the SHSP. Safety specialists can participate in a number of transportation planning activities to understand midterm and long-term safety priorities and coordinate the integration of safety needs from transportation plans into the SHSP and regional/local safety plans. Transportation planners can share safety needs identified during public outreach activities, and discuss the potential impacts to safety performance at a systems level. Examples include:

  • Caltrans uses its Policy Advisory Committee and TAC as opportunities for safety specialists and planners to coordinate incorporating safety needs from transportation plans into the SHSP and regional/local safety plans. The Caltrans Policy and Advisory Committee includes: FHWA, large MPOs, Rural Transportation Planning Agencies (RTPA), California Walks, Departments of Aging and Health, and other members. The committee shares results from the travel demand model and freight travel demand model and collaborate to obtain consensus on and support for the plans. TAC is used as a forum to discuss and collaborate on transportation plans and programs. Information from these committees is distributed via the California Council of Governments (CalCOG) and Rural Counties Task Force.
  • Oregon DOT conducts regional leadership meetings with district area managers, technical services managers, and other staff responsible for maintenance and project delivery. At those meetings, statistics on traffic fatalities and injuries are presented and discussed to coordinate safety performance awareness at the system level. The meetings also allow safety specialists to understand other perspectives on safety needs, such as maintenance and project delivery perspectives.
  • The Pima Association of Governments (Arizona) used a public engagement tool to collect public input on the long-range plan. The tool created four different planning scenarios on a performance-driven planning approach. The results included a strong emphasis on infrastructure maintenance rather than adding new capacity. Safety was a top priority and an overall common theme. The information collected from the LRTP outreach process will be incorporated into the MPO’s regional safety plan.
Table 6. Integrate safety into transportation planning processes.
Transportation Planners Safety Specialists
What can I do to ensure safety concerns are addressed at each stage of the transportation planning process: conducting public outreach, establishing performance targets, utilizing safety data, etc.? What can I do to provide transportation planners with the information and contacts they need to incorporate safety concerns into each stage of the transportation planning process?
Integrate safety into public involvement and outreach activities used to develop a long-range vision, mission, and goals. Provide suggestions to planners on safety topics to be included in public involvement and outreach activities used to develop a long-range vision, mission, and goals.
Include safety specialists in major meetings and groups tasked with establishing annual performance targets for other program areas. Include planners in major meetings and groups tasked with developing and coordinating annual safety targets. Topics may include data limitations, timing of annual target reporting, and methods used to set targets.
Work with safety specialists to overlay crash and safety data with transportation projects and identify opportunities to plan and implement projects with strong safety benefits. Share information on safety issues and coordinate with State and local planners to identify projects for the HSIP and HSP.
Become familiar with tools and guidance to help planners understand the project prioritization process used for safety improvement projects. Develop tools and guidance to help planners understand the project prioritization process used for safety improvement projects.
Incorporate safety into analysis and planning procedures manuals and work with safety specialists to develop content. Provide data and relevant stakeholder input on safety issues for modal plans (e.g., freight, rail, pedestrian and bicycle).
Share data on any safety needs gathered during the Statewide LRTP, MTP, Freight Plan, Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan, etc. with safety specialists. Provide suggestions for safety-related questions in long-range planning outreach.
Invite safety specialists to lead a discussion on safety needs and goals at policy and/or TAC meeting. Participate in transportation plan outreach activities to understand the safety needs identified.

Education and Training Programs

The Virginia DOT has a Strategically Targeted Affordable Roadway Solutions (STARS) program for planners, traffic and safety engineers, maintenance specialists, and local stakeholders. The goal of the program is to identify, plan, conceptually design, and program projects to reduce congestion and improve safety. The program overlays safety and traffic databases in GIS to assist with selecting locations that will put the program’s resources to best use. Projects are prioritized using a travel time index, planning time index, buffer time index, volume-to-capacity ratios, potential for safety improvement rankings, and historic crash data.

To enhance collaboration on transportation and safety planning processes, training is often required to align and elevate staff skill sets. Safety specialists can provide training on any aspect of the transportation safety or safety planning processes, and transportation planners can offer training to safety specialists on the transportation planning process, technical information on modal issues, and metropolitan planning priorities. The following examples showcase successful training opportunities:

  • The Virginia DOT STARS program brings together planners, traffic and safety engineers, maintenance specialists, and local stakeholders to identify, prioritize, and program transportation projects to improve safety and reduce congestion. To help participants take advantage of the program and the process used to select projects, VDOT offers trainings on the program. To date, training has included a GIS-101 to provide everyone with baseline knowledge of the tool, an interactive training on how GIS is used for the STARS Program, and crash data collection.

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), in coordination with the Local Technical Assistance Program, and Department of Public Safety provides a number of regular training opportunities to help transportation planners, engineers, law enforcement agencies, and State and local safety advocates understand crash data and analysis. Trainings include the HSM Overview Workshop, HSM Focus Training Class, HSM Freeway Training Class, ODOT Traffic Academy—Safety Studies Course, and GIS Crash Analysis Tool (GCAT) Computer Training for Local Agencies.

  • The Oregon DOT (ODOT) developed an Analysis Procedures Manual (APM), which provides current methodologies, practices, and procedures for conducting long-term analysis for transportation plans and projects. With an update to the APM recently completed, new information, such as how to utilize the HSM is now included. ODOT provides training on the APM for regional and local staff. The planning and engineering staff deliver the training together to demonstrate to local entities the importance of coordination between the two groups.
  • The Oregon DOT is collaborating more with health entities for the current SHSP update process and is training planners on conducting and using health impact assessments. The training will be used as an opportunity to broaden the number of people who understand the relationship between health and safety.
  • The Mountain West Regional Tribal Technical Assistance Program has offered trainings and workshops on developing Tribal Safety Plans.
Table 7. Education and training programs.
Transportation Planners Safety Specialists
How can I identify and provide access to transportation planning training opportunities to safety specialists? What safety training opportunities are available for transportation planners at all levels?
Determine the workforce development/training opportunities related to safety within your organization. Determine the workforce development/training opportunities related to planning within your organization.
Identify available workforce development/training opportunities outside of your organization. Identify available workforce development/training opportunities outside of your organization.
Meet with safety specialists and develop a list of desired training objectives. Meet with transportation planners and develop a list of desired training objectives.
Provide training to safety specialists on Statewide, regional, and modal transportation planning processes and priorities. Provide planners with training on safety, transportation safety planning, and crash data and analysis procedures.
Assist MPO and local planners by introducing them to safety specialists. Work with LTAP and Regional Safety Coalitions/Teams to identify opportunities for safety training to local planners.


Enhancing the link between the safety and transportation planning processes can result in enhanced collaboration and coordination between the two planning processes, more opportunities to leverage resources, and ultimately, reductions in fatalities and serious injuries on the transportation system. Safety specialists and transportation planners have many opportunities to effectively communicate within and between agencies and across disciplines and job functions; collaborate to share information, resources, data, and tools to enhance safety considerations in the transportation planning process; and coordinate the two processes to address safety in the transportation process and translate safety needs from transportation plans into information to influence safety plans and programs. While research has addressed opportunities to integrate safety into the transportation planning process for many years, this Resource Guide has added to that body of knowledge and identified strategies to tie safety and transportation planning needs identified during the long-term planning process into the SHSP and other safety planning efforts.

<< Module 2       Appendix A >>

Page last modified on August 28, 2020
Safe Roads for a Safer Future - Investment in roadway safety saves lives
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000