Transportation safety planning (TSP) aims to reduce transportation fatalities and serious injuries by fully integrating safety considerations into the transportation planning process. The Federal Highway Administration’ (FHWA) support for TSP is a joint effort of the FHWA Office of Safety (HSA) and the Office of Planning (HEPP). FHWA offers resources and services to transportation agencies on TSP opportunities, requirements, resources, and best practices.
TSP guides the consideration of safety in planning and decision-making. It considers safety goals, objectives, performance measures, and targets at the system level and integrates them into the transportation planning process and its related products (long-range plans, short-range plans, transportation improvement programs, and work programs). TSP is an active approach that incorporates safety into the existing planning process, ensuring that safety considerations are not treated as an afterthought but prioritized early in the process.
Planners may integrate TSP at various stages of the planning process:
Engineering safer roadways. Planners may influence infrastructure improvements by incorporating safety principles and data throughout the project selection and technical planning process.
Education, awareness, and outreach. During the public outreach components of the planning process, planners may educate the public and transportation professionals on the need to address safety during the planning process. Planners may also involve law enforcement and EMS during the development of plans in order to include a variety of safety perspectives and expertise.
Analyzing data. It is often the planner’s role to collect and analyze crash, roadway, and volume data to identify transportation system safety needs and priorities. Planners develop safety goals and objectives based on public and stakeholder input, results of data analysis, and information in other plans (i.e., SHSP).
Monitoring performance. Planners identify safety performance measures and targets and monitor performance.
Federal law requires that the State and Metropolitan transportation planning processes be consistent with Strategic Highway Safety Plans. Safety is one of the seven national performance goals addressed specifically in FHWA’s performance-based transportation planning approach and Transportation Performance Management (TPM). The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act, which establishes the National Goal Areas for Federal highway programs, includes a goal for safety. As a MAP-21 National Goal Area, safety should be considered in planning at all levels.
The FAST Act requires MPOs and DOTs to consider safety as one of ten planning factors. As stated in 23 CFR 450.206(a) and 23 CFR 450.306(b), the transportation planning process should provide for consideration and implementation of projects, strategies, and services that will increase the safety of the transportation system for motorized and non-motorized users.
23 CFR 450.216(d) and 23 CFR 450.324(h) encourage integrating the priorities, goals, countermeasures, or projects contained in the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) and the Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) in metropolitan transportation plans and long-range statewide transportation plans. These statutes also encourage integration (as appropriate) of emergency relief and disaster preparedness plans and strategies and policies that support homeland security and safeguard the personal security of all motorized and non-motorized users.
MPO Guidebook for Using Safety as a Project Prioritization Factor: The purpose of this guidebook is to identify the state of the practice by Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) using safety as a project prioritization criterion and to identify potential methods for using safety as a factor in project prioritization. The methods are categorized into three levels of complexity so MPOs of all sizes and at all stages of performance-based transportation planning can identify appropriate methods to effectively incorporate safety into project prioritization.
PlanWorks Safety Application: This resource supports consideration of safety issues and strategies at individual Key Decisions throughout the transportation planning process.
Transportation Safety Planning and the Zero Deaths Vision: A Guide for Metropolitan Planning Organizations and Local Communities: The Guide provides references to key information for Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and local communities to understand and use the safety planning process to work toward the zero deaths vision (Publication number FHWA-SA-18-024, August 2018).
Building Links to Improve Safety: How Safety and Transportation Planning Practitioners Work Together: The resource guide shows transportation planners and safety practitioners how to work together to link the transportation planning and safety planning processes to address safety challenges (Publication number FHWA-SA-16-116, December 2016).
Applying Safety Data and Analysis to Performance-Based Transportation Planning: This 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 (Publication number FHWA-SA-15-089, November 2015).
Incorporating Safety Into the Planning Process (resource is no longer available): This presentation provides an overview of TSP for use by transportation professionals. It includes a standard presentation and modules for various audiences – Federal, States, MPOs, RPOs, and local elected officials. Users are welcome to adapt the entire presentation or individual slides as needed.
Safety Focused Decision Making Guide: The guide provides a framework defined by five high-level activities with continuous feedback loops for data collection and analysis and project modifications to enhance safety impacts (Publication Number: FHWA-SA-13-034).
Safety Focused Decision Making Guide Training: This training provides a framework for safety focused decision-making, and includes information on selecting and applying safety planning tools (Publication Number: FHWA-SA-13-035, September 2013).
Tools and Practices for System Wide Safety Improvement: This is a gap analysis on the current safety planning environment as it relates to projects, current tools and activities, and the desired future state (Publication Number: FHWA-SA-13-033, July 2013).