The National Academies

NCHRP 17-114 [Pending]

Integrated Strategies for Managing Excessive Travel Speed to Improve Safety Performance

  Project Data
Funds: $500,000
Contract Time: 24 months
Staff Responsibility: Dr. Zuxuan Deng



Excessive traffic speed is one of the largest contributors to traffic deaths in the United States. Excessive speed contributes to crash occurrences and influences crash severities. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) found that, in 2020, there were 11,258 speeding-related fatalities, accounting for 29 percent of the total traffic fatalities for the year. Despite the existence of isolated interventions to curtail excessive speed (e.g., speed safety cameras, traffic calming road design, concordance between land use and road classifications) few have been widely and equitably adopted. None get to the deep-rooted cause of the problem, such as people’s harried lifestyles, thrill-seeking behaviors, desire for powerful vehicles, and prioritizing speed above everything else, among other interacting factors. In addition, traditionally marginalized and underserved communities often experience a disproportionately high burden of speed-related traffic injuries but receive hardly any benefits from speed management policies and countermeasures.

To manage traffic speed proactively and over longer periods of time, professionals need to recognize the complexity of this public health issue and broaden their repertoire of ways to address it. It is important to identify cross-sectoral partnerships and tools to help them visualize the complex processes that could contribute to reducing excessive speed. There is a need to draw upon a variety of datasets and consider the interacting elements that influence excessive travel speed to develop integrated strategies for speed management framework (ISSMF). These integrated strategies should be flexible enough to deal with disruptions such as global pandemics, siloed funding of the disconnected parts of the system, increased awareness of social inequities in transportation safety and access to transportation, and technological breakthroughs.


The objective of this research is to develop a guide for state departments of transportation (DOTs), transportation agencies, and their partners to institutionalize ISSMF in their policies, practices, and interventions to improve safety performance. At a minimum, the research shall cover:

  • Summary and lessons learned related to agency speed management approaches and policies, including impacts on traditionally underserved communities; 
  • Behavioral, cultural, and human factor determinants of speed choice;
  • Travel speed management countermeasures that are useful in different contexts; 
  • Holistic speed management schemes suitable for the different stages (planning, design, construction, maintenance, and rehabilitation) of a project’s lifecycle; 
  • Implementation framework to identify critical steps and partners for high-quality implementation; and
  • Partner and stakeholder engagement and input that are incorporated into a unified, adaptable framework for managing excessive travel speed.

Accomplishment of the project objective will require the completion of the following tasks, at a minimum.





Task 1a. Conduct a broad literature review on speed reduction strategies and human behavior modifying strategies to define potential strategies to address the root cause of excessive travel speed in various road user demographic groups (e.g., based upon gender, race/ethnicity, income, age) and modal groups (e.g., drivers of trucks, cars, SUVs, motorcyclists). Identify factors and trends that lead to speed disparity such as global positioning system (GPS) governed systems that control the maximum speed for trucks and buses. 

Task 1b. Survey current excessive travel speed management practices at state and local agencies for their capability, maturity levels, and institutional barriers across a variety of contexts. 

Task 2. Engage diverse teams of researchers, practitioners, and policymakers who would convene in systems thinking to generate insights on speed-related dynamics (e.g., workplace practices that knowingly or unknowingly incentivize high travel speed in employees), induced behaviors (e.g., sprawling land uses that incite high speed to cover distances), and potential leverage points for intervention (e.g., incorporating safe design speeds in traffic impact assessment procedures) that would support continued effectiveness. Synthesize the results of the literature review and stakeholder engagement to identify knowledge gaps related to the research objective. These gaps should be addressed in the final product or included in recommended future research, as budget permits.

Task 3. Prepare a detailed Phase II work plan that describes a method for creating a prototype ISSMF. 

Task 4. Prepare Interim Report No. 1 documenting the results of Tasks 1 through 3 and provide an updated plan for the remainder of the research no later than 6 months after contract award. The updated plan must describe the methodology and rationale for the work proposed for Phases II and III. 






Task 5. Execute the work plan based on the approved Interim Report No. 1. Incorporate findings from Tasks 1 and 2 into a prototype ISSMF for managing excessive travel speed in an integrated manner. State DOTs, transportation agencies, and their partners should be able to use ISSMF to manage excessive travel speed to overcome institutional barriers in various communities with the help of strategic partners (e.g., county public health departments, local hospitals, local news media, enforcement, and judication). Identify the speed modification factors (SMFs) needed for the tools in ISSMF and current research gaps such as missing SMFs or those in need of more robust analysis.


Task 6. Prepare an annotated outline of the draft guide.


Task 7. Prepare Interim Report No. 2 that documents Tasks 5 and 6 and provide an updated work plan for the remainder of the research no later than 8 months after approval of Phase I. The updated plan must describe the process and rationale for the work proposed for Phase III. 






Task 8. Prepare and submit the draft guide based on the approved Interim Report No. 2 for the NCHRP panel’s review.


Task 9. Conduct two or more workshops with at least 10 representatives from state DOTs (located in geographic regions of various sizes) and at least 5 representatives from other stakeholders to demonstrate and collect feedback on the draft guide. Revise the draft guide and workshop material taking into account feedback gathered during the workshop and submit for the NCHRP project panel’s review.


Task 10. Present the research findings to appropriate AASHTO technical committees for comments and propose any revisions to NCHRP. The research team should anticipate making two presentations during the research to appropriate technical committees at annual meetings of the AASHTO Committee on Safety or ASSHTO Committee on Traffic Engineering. Revise the draft research report after consideration of review comments.  


Task 11. Prepare the final deliverables including the following: 

1.    A conduct of research report that documents the entire research effort and any lessons learned;

2.    A guide;

3.  Media and communication material customizable for stakeholders identified in Phase I (e.g., presentations, 2-page executive level flyer, graphics, graphic   interchange format (GIF)s, press releases); and 

4.  A stand-alone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products”. Additional funding may be available for a follow-up contract on the implementation of the results.



STATUS: A research contractor has been selected for the project.  The contracting process is underway.


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