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FHWA Primer on Safety Performance Measures

In This Article:

In an effort to assist State and local transportation planners and safety practitioners with the integration of safety performance measures as a part of the transportation planning process the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) produced A Primer on Safety Performance Measures for the Transportation Planning Process in 2009. The purpose of this document is to help State and local practitioners, transportation planners, and decision-makers identify, select, and use safety performance measures as a part of the transportation planning process. Some benefits safety performance measures provide to the planning and decision-making process include: greater accountability, greater linkage between safety goals/objectives and policy formulation; better understanding of the impacts of alternative courses of action; improved communication about transportation safety; increased organizational focus on safety priorities; and information feedback.

The Primer draws from current literature, professional experience, and State department of transportation (DOT) and metropolitan planning organization (MPO) practices. Key elements of the Primer include: a definition of performance measures; a step-by-step description with flowcharts showing how safety performance measures can be identified and integrated into the transportation planning process; characteristics of effective performance measures; a checklist to assess an organization’s current status with respect to the use of safety performance measures in the transportation planning and decision-making process; and a list of references.

The document also includes seven case studies from States and MPOs highlighting the use of safety performance measures to enhance the planning processes. For example, the Minnesota DOT’s (MnDOT) performance-based investment plan enables the State to estimate the investments needed to meet established performance measure targets for traveler safety. MnDOT has created a vertically integrated structure ensuring policies made at headquarters are implemented in the districts. Safety performance measures that align with statewide goals are also used by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) to set investment levels. SEMCOG uses a comprehensive regional approach to identify and prioritize projects and provides crash data to local agencies for high-risk location analysis and cost-benefit analysis. This approach ensures local safety analysis and project prioritization is aligned with the region’s and State’s long-range goals, objectives, and performance measures.

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