The National Academies

NCHRP 17-101 [RFP]

Applying the Safe System Approach to Transportation Planning, Design, and Operations in the United States

Posted Date: 10/20/2021

  Project Data
Funds: $450,000
Contract Time: 24 months
(includes 1 month for NCHRP review and approval of each interim report, and 3 months for NCHRP review and for contractor revision of the final report)
Authorization to Begin Work: 4/1/2022 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: David M. Jared
   Phone: 202/334-2358
   Email: djared@nas.edu
RFP Close Date: 12/15/2021
Fiscal Year: 2021

“Safe System” has been defined in various ways by the transportation community. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) defined it as “[t]he basic strategy…to ensure that, in the event of a crash, the impact energies remain below the threshold likely to produce either death or serious injury” (OECD International Transport Forum, 2008). This definition acknowledges that road users make mistakes. In the Safe Road Transport System Model, safe speeds represent the primary pathway towards a safer system, followed by safe vehicles, safe roads, and safe road users. The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) explains the Safe System approach as differing from conventional safety practice by “being human-centered, i.e., seeking safety through a more aggressive use of vehicle or roadway design and operational changes rather than relying primarily on behavioral changes – and by fully integrating the needs of all users (pedestrians, bicyclists, older, younger, disabled, etc.) of the transportation system” (https://www.ite.org/technical-resources/topics/safe-systems/).
Literature shows that countries using the Safe System model have outpaced the United States in reducing traffic-related deaths. Some Safe System strategies are included in zero fatality efforts around the United States, such as multidisciplinary implementation to promote safer roads, vehicles, and road users and promote safety culture. Even with increased interest, little guidance exists for transportation planning, design, and operations; policy makers; public health practitioners; and law enforcement for implementing a Safe System. Decision-makers in the transportation community are faced with challenges to adoption and implementation of primary elements of Safe System, such as traditional design processes and legal constraints.
To be successful and adaptable to future changes, a Safe System approach must address not only infrastructure design but also such factors as vehicle design, policies and laws, recognition of shared safety responsibility, road user behavior, and public culture. For Safe System to be fully implemented, all of these factors need some degree of change. Research is needed to begin providing practical resources for transportation planners, designers, and operations managers to consult during problem identification, project development, and countermeasure selection.
The objectives of this research are the following: 
1. Identify tools, practices, policies, and prioritization methods that can be tailored for supporting implementation of Safe System at both institutional and project levels.  
2. Evaluate current Safe System approaches in anticipation of technological advances such as connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) and automated speed enforcement.
3. Identify and document Safe System (a) implementation gaps and challenges in the United States, (b) research needs, and (c) challenges and barriers and remedies thereto.  
4. Develop practical, data-driven implementation guidelines for Safe System that (a) are scalable to transportation agencies of various sizes and maturities, and (b) consider various road contexts.
Accomplishment of the project objectives will require at least the following tasks.
Task descriptions are intended to provide a framework for conducting the research. The NCHRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objectives. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers’ current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objectives.
Task 1. Literature review and practitioner survey design.
Task 1a. Review literature. The review shall include Safe System and similar approaches and consider related research in progress and possible research gaps.
Task 1b: Design practitioner survey. The survey shall include early adopters of Safe System and related approaches as applied to planning, design, and operations. Survey participants shall also include agencies that have tried Safe System but have not yet adopted it.  
Submit a technical memorandum summarizing the findings from Tasks 1a and 1b. Following NCHRP review, the memorandum shall be discussed via conference call. NCHRP approval of the memorandum is required before work may begin on Task 2.
Task 2. Conduct practitioner survey and develop guidelines outline.
Task 2a. Conduct practitioner survey. The survey shall initially be distributed electronically with follow up by phone as necessary. The survey shall be sent to all pertinent personnel within an agency, to include but not be limited to leadership, planning, design, and operations.
Task 2b. Develop annotated outline of guidelines. The outline shall include, at minimum, consideration of the following:  
  • Practicability of roadmap elements
  • Data-driven aspects
  • Scalability to transportation agencies of various sizes and maturities
  • Consideration of various road contexts
  • Barriers and challenges to the Safe System approach, including legal constraints, organizational issues, and perceived freight and economic impacts
  • Proposed solutions to the barriers and challenges identified
  • Integration of Safe System with other current and forthcoming policies
  • Project development processes and project-specific assessments
  • Knowledge gaps potentially necessitating research
  • Safe System training within organizations

 Submit a technical memorandum summarizing the results of Task 2a for NCHRP review. NCHRP approval of the memorandum must be received before work on Task 2b is finalized.

Task 3. Submit Interim Report. The report shall summarize the findings from Tasks 1-2 and include the guidelines outline from Task 2b. Following NCHRP review, the report shall be discussed by the project panel, in-person if possible at the TRB offices in Washington, D.C. NCHRP approval of the guidelines outline is required before proceeding with Task 4.
Task 4. Present guidelines outline to practitioners. Obtain feedback on the guidelines outline from practitioners familiar with Safe System and similar approaches. Coordinate with the panel for identifying appropriate practitioners to participate. The practitioner feedback on the presentation may be obtained via web conference. Submit a technical memorandum summarizing the results of the presentation for NCHRP review. NCHRP approval of the memorandum is required before work may begin on Task 5.
Task 5. Complete proposed guidelines. The guidelines shall be separate from the conduct of research report, either as an appendix thereto or as a standalone document. The guidelines shall consider all aspects of the Safe System process and be modular enough for agencies to easily select and prioritize material most pertinent to them, e.g., policy, planning, design, and/or operations.  
Task 6. Submit final report and project deliverables. Project deliverables shall include the guidelines, implementation memorandum, slide summary, and a conduct of research report documenting the entire research effort. The slide summary shall serve as an overview of the roadmap rather than the research effort and be geared toward promoting Safe System within agencies.
Note: Following receipt of the draft final deliverables, the remaining 3 months shall be for NCHRP review and comment and for research agency preparation of the final deliverables.
A. The research team should look for opportunities to present project work to leadership in the transportation community to increase understanding of the Safe System approach and encourage its implementation. The team should also monitor related ongoing research and consider applicability of findings to this project.

B. The Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Board’s Cooperative Research Programs were modified in November 2020 to include maximum file size and page limits for all CRP proposals. Proposals must be submitted as a single PDF file with a maximum file size of 10 MB. The PDF must be formatted for standard 8 ½” X 11” paper, and the entire proposal must not exceed 60 pages (according to the page count displayed in the PDF). Proposals that do not meet these requirements will be rejected.  For other requirements, refer to chapter V of the instructions.


C. Proposals should include a task-by-task breakdown of labor hours for each staff member as shown in Figure 4 in the brochure, "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals" (http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/crp/docs/ProposalPrep.pdf). Proposals also should include a breakdown of all costs (e.g., wages, indirect costs, travel, materials, and total) for each task using Figures 5 and 6 in the brochure. Please note that TRB Cooperative Research Program subawards (selected proposers are considered subawards to the National Academy of Sciences, the parent organization of TRB) must comply with 2 CFR 200 – Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. These requirements include a provision that proposers without a "federally" Negotiated Indirect Costs Rate Agreement (NICRA) shall be subject to a maximum allowable indirect rate of 10% of Modified Total Direct Costs. Modified Total Direct Costs include all salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and up to the first $25,000 of each lower-tier subaward and subcontract. Modified Total Direct Costs exclude equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, rental costs, tuition remission, scholarships and fellowships, participant support costs and the portion of each lower-tier subaward and subcontract in excess of $25,000.


D. NCHRP is a practical, applied research program that produces implementable products addressing problems faced by transportation practitioners and managers. The benefits of NCHRP research are realized only when the results are implemented in state DOTs and other agencies. Implementation of the research product must be considered throughout the process, from problem statement development to research contract and beyond completion of the research. Item 4(c), "Anticipated Research Results," must include the following: (a) the "product" expected from the research, (b) the audience or "market" for this product, (c) a realistic assessment of impediments to successful implementation, and (d) the institutions and individuals who might take leadership in deploying the research product. The project panel will develop and maintain an implementation plan throughout the life of the project. The research team will be expected to provide input to an implementation team consisting of panel members, AASHTO committee members, the NCHRP Implementation Coordinator, and others in order to meet the goals of NCHRP Active Implementation: Moving Research into Practice, available at http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/docs/NCHRP_ActiveImplementation.pdf.


E. Proposals are evaluated by the NCHRP staff and project panels consisting of individuals collectively very knowledgeable in the problem area. Selection of an agency is made by the project panel considering the following factors: (1) the proposer's demonstrated understanding of the problem; (2) the merit of the proposed research approach and experiment design; (3) the experience, qualifications, and objectivity of the research team in the same or closely related problem area; (4) the plan for ensuring application of results; (5) how the proposer approaches inclusion and diversity in the composition of their team and research approach, including participation by certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprises; and, if relevant, (6) the adequacy of the facilities.


Note: The proposer's approach to inclusion and diversity as well as participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises should be incorporated in Item 11 of the proposal. 


F. Copyrights - All data, written materials, computer software, graphic and photographic images, and other information prepared under the contract and the copyrights therein shall be owned by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The contractor and subcontractors will be able to publish this material for non-commercial purposes, for internal use, or to further academic research or studies with permission from TRB Cooperative Research Programs. The contractor and subcontractors will not be allowed to sell the project material without prior approval by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. By signing a contract with the National Academy of Sciences, contractors accept legal responsibility for any copyright infringement that may exist in work done for TRB. Contractors are therefore responsible for obtaining all necessary permissions for use of copyrighted material in TRB's Cooperative Research Programs publications. For guidance on TRB's policies on using copyrighted material please consult Section 5.4, "Use of Copyrighted Material," in the Procedural Manual for Contractors.


Proposals should be uploaded via this link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/9Dwc0b0e96Q89dfrlRaC
Proposals are due not later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on 12/15/2021.

This is a firm deadline, and extensions are not granted. In order to be considered for award, the agency's proposal accompanied by the executed, unmodified Liability Statement must be in our offices not later than the deadline shown, or the proposal will be rejected.

Liability Statement

The signature of an authorized representative of the proposing agency is required on the unaltered statement in order for TRB to accept the agency's proposal for consideration. Proposals submitted without this executed and unaltered statement by the proposal deadline will be summarily rejected. An executed, unaltered statement indicates the agency's intent and ability to execute a contract that includes the provisions in the statement.

Here is a fillable PDF version of the Liability Statement. A free copy of the Adobe Acrobat PDF reader is available at https://www.adobe.com.

General Notes

1. According to the provisions of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 21, which relates to nondiscrimination in federally assisted programs, all parties are hereby notified that the contract entered into pursuant to this announcement will be awarded without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or disability.

2. The essential features required in a proposal for research are detailed in the current brochure entitled "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals". Proposals must be prepared according to this document, and attention is directed specifically to Section V for mandatory requirements. Proposals that do not conform with these requirements will be rejected.

3. The total funds available are made known in the project statement, and line items of the budget are examined to determine the reasonableness of the allocation of funds to the various tasks. If the proposed total cost exceeds the funds available, the proposal is rejected.

4. All proposals become the property of the Transportation Research Board. Final disposition will be made according to the policies thereof, including the right to reject all proposals.

5. Potential proposers should understand that follow-on activities for this project may be carried out through either a contract amendment modifying the scope of work with additional time and funds, or through a new contract (via sole source, full, or restrictive competition).

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