The National Academies

NCHRP 08-76 [Final]

Institutionalizing Safety in Transportation Planning Processes: Techniques, Tactics and Strategies

  Project Data
Funds: $725,000
Research Agency: Cambridge Systematics
Principal Investigator: Susan Herbel
Effective Date: 5/11/2009
Completion Date: 9/30/2014

STATUS:   The final Guidebook is available HERE.



More than 40,000 people are killed in crashes every year on the U.S. road system.  In addition to the tragic loss of life, traffic fatalities cost the American economy $280 billion annually. In 1991, ISTEA added safety as a required decision factor in the transportation planning process. Fourteen years later, SAFETEA-LU required state departments of transportation (DOTs) to prepare a Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP).  SHSPs are coordinated plans that provide a roadmap for improving safety on all public roads, and they are required to integrate engineering, education, enforcement, and emergency medical services, often referred to as the “four Es.”  Every DOT has a federally approved SHSP.


Expanding the transportation planning process to explicitly include safety and developing SHSPs are unique and separate actions, but they are intended to complement each other. Robust implementation of these plans must occur if the SHSPs are to meet their goal of improving transportation safety.  State DOTs, metropolitan planning organizations, and other transportation agencies are using a variety of approaches to integrate safety into the overall transportation planning process.   These approaches have not been analyzed from a national perspective, and agencies would benefit from comprehensive guidance on successful techniques, tactics, and strategies.    This guidance would also aid agencies in institutionalizing successful practices and their contribution to sound safety, planning, and policy decisions.


Transportation professionals and decisionmakers at the federal, state, regional, and local levels would have use for such guidance. A variety of organizations would be able to use this guidance to train and educate their respective constituencies.  They include, but are not limited to, the Transportation Safety Planning Working Group, American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials, Institute of Transportation Engineers, National Association of County Engineers, American Public Transportation Association, Community Transportation Association of America, Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations, National Association of Regional Councils, National Association of Development Organizations, Governors Highway Safety Association, American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, National Association of State Emergency Medical Services Officials,  and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.




The objective of this project was to develop a guide for institutionalizing the continuous integration of safety in transportation planning and programming processes.  The guide provides techniques, tactics, and strategies for agencies to use to institutionalize safety as a decision and planning factor, and for coordinating the SHSP with other transportation plans.  The guide should be useful to state, regional, and local transportation agencies; professional associations; and interest groups in  examining how, and how effectively, safety has been integrated into transportation planning processes.



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