U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
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Washington, DC 20590

Roadway Safety Professional Capacity Building Program

Local Road Safety Plan Peer Exchange (Summary)

October 9-10, 2013
Minneapolis, MN


About the Peer Exchange

FHWA's RSPCB Technical Assistance Program supports and sponsors peer exchanges and workshops hosted by agencies.

October 9-10, 2013


Key Participants
Representatives from:

  • Colorado
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • FHWA Office of Safety

FHWA's Office of Safety sponsors P2P events. Learn more.

All States have a Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) that provides a framework for reducing highway fatalities and serious injuries on public roads. While a State SHSP can assist local practitioners with addressing safety on local roads, a locally-focused plan can address the unique conditions that contribute to crashes and assist local officials with making informed safety investment decisions.

A Local Road Safety Plan (LRSP) can build on the foundation established by a State's SHSP and provides a framework for local practitioners to proactively identify the factors that contribute to crashes within their jurisdictions. It will provide the basis for the systemic implementation of safety countermeasures across an entire jurisdiction and identifies data-driven strategies that can be used to improve the overall safety of all road users. Comprehensive plans include a prioritized list of projects that often include infrastructure improvements as well as enforcement and education activities. Ultimately, an LRSP ensures flexibility so that local jurisdictions can leverage the plan to meet their specific needs.

An LRSP integrates the 4Es of Safety (engineering, education, enforcement, and emergency services) and provides an excellent opportunity for stakeholders at all levels of government to work together to address safety challenges. An LRSP promotes road safety awareness, develops lasting partnerships, instills or enhances collaboration across multiple disciplines, and assists local agencies with leveraging safety funding.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has been a pioneer in the area of Local Road Safety Plans. While their process for developing county-level safety plans is not the only example available, it is one of the most widely recognized initiatives—including a 2011 National Roadway Safety Award.

Minnesota's 2007 SHSP noted more than 50 percent of the State's traffic fatalities occurred on local roads, which are operated by counties. In order to meet the statewide Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) goal, MnDOT recognized that they would have to reduce crashes on those systems. Subsequently, MnDOT initiated the County Roadway Safety Plans (CRSP) Program to more effectively involve local highway agencies in the safety planning process and to provide these agencies with the technical assistance needed to successfully apply for State and Federal safety funding.

The MN CRSP process includes a crash analysis and system-wide risk assessment of road and traffic characteristics for each county. The results of this process are used to identify low-cost, infrastructure-based safety projects for specific at-risk locations on county roadways. Stakeholders from all 4Es are involved during the CRSP process which subsequently leads to the identification of enforcement and education strategies that also become part of the plan. MnDOT works with county engineers to prioritize projects and familiarize them with the safety project development and the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) solicitation processes.

Other States are now looking to Minnesota's CRSP Program as they develop or consider their own Local Road Safety Plan initiative. Specifically, Colorado and Iowa are interested in developing Local Road Safety Plans (LRSP) with their counties and want to learn from Minnesota's experience as they start their own programs. Kansas, Michigan, and Missouri have started Local Road Safety Plans and are interested in insight from their peers to enhance their initiatives. To assist these States, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Safety sponsored a Local Road Safety Plan Peer Exchange, which was hosted by Minnesota October 9-10, 2013 in Minneapolis. The catalyst for the peer exchange was a request submitted by the FHWA Iowa Division Office through the Local and Rural Road Safety Peer Assistance Program offered as part of the FHWA Roadway Safety Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Program.1

Representatives from all levels of government in Minnesota, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan and Missouri participated, including Federal, State, and county representatives. To ensure a candid discussion and provide the most comprehensive perspective of the CRSP process, participants from Minnesota included champions who supported the CRSP Program from the very beginning as well as county engineers who were skeptical at first, but eventually became advocates of CRSPs after recognizing their benefits.

There were three primary goals for the peer exchange.

  1. Learn about all aspects of an LRSP – the process and how to get started; the content; how to fund development of the plan and projects included in the plan; stakeholders to involve; how to get buy-in; and how to implement the plan after it is developed.
  2. Share information between peer States interested in developing and implementing LRSPs.
  3. Learn how an LRSP can help a county move forward with the implementation of the systemic (proactive) approach to safety.

The peer exchange provided a forum for attendees to share information on processes for developing an LRSP, plan content and layout, engaging stakeholders, and implementing the plan. While attendees discussed many topics related to LRSPs over the course of the two-day meeting, some points recurred multiple times and are regarded as key takeaways. These central takeaways are summarized below and provide additional guidance and considerations for developing a Local Road Safety Plan.

Peer Exchange Takeaways

  • All of the participating States identified a large percentage of severe crashes occurring on their local system. It is clear that safety goals will not be met if crashes on the local system are not addressed. The States cannot get to zero (TZD programs) highway fatalities without addressing local road safety.
  • Having a champion(s) who is persistent is vital. Ideally, you will have a champion(s) from both the State and local levels who can help overcome obstacles (such as funding), convince others to come on board, and see the LRSP through to completion and into implementation.
  • Local plans should have a strong systemic component. Typically, severe crashes are widely scattered throughout the local road system. However, certain segments and intersections are at greater risk and these areas can be identified with good data analysis and treated systemically. FHWA's Systemic Safety Project Selection Tool (http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/systemic/fhwasa13019/) is a good resource.
  • Engineers from the local agency need to be actively involved in the development of their plan; especially with providing input to the project list. It is not effective if the local agency is a passive recipient of a plan created by the State or a consultant. It is just as important that each plan is tailored to the local jurisdiction and its unique challenges.
  • County Boards or other local elected officials should be educated about the local safety plan and engaged throughout the process. Their buy-in will be especially important for implementation; especially funding for projects. Reach out to elected officials proactively, provide frequent updates, and invite them to meetings to walk through the plan.
  • During implementation of the plan, ongoing evaluation is very important. This increases your understanding of what types of projects are having the greatest impact so that you can adjust what projects are funded accordingly.
  • MnDOT's process is just one approach to developing an LRSP. The method and resulting local plans should be tailored to each State's unique needs, characteristics, organizational structures, and resources.
  • Identify a funding source for project implementation. Local plans that have no funding source for implementation will do little good.

In total, 66 attendees participated in the peer exchange. Attendees represented FHWA, State DOTs, counties, and Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) Centers from Minnesota, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, and Missouri. Each State is in a varying stage of developing Local Road Safety Plans. Some have just started discussing the concept while others have developed plans with pilot counties. All visiting States had a desire to learn more about the process and welcomed the opportunity to meet with their counterparts in from other states.

The peer exchange was formatted to provide a mix of presentations, facilitated roundtable discussions, and breakout sessions. This structure provided attendees with several opportunities to collect information for developing Local Road Safety Plans or learning solutions for improving existing Local Road Safety Plans. Each State was encouraged to share their noteworthy practices and innovations as well as challenges and barriers experienced as they consider or develop LRSPs. The facilitated discussions allowed participants as groups to focus on specific topics such as linking LRSPs to a State's SHSP and moving forward after an LRSP is finalized (for example, maintaining stakeholder interest).

For each of the breakout sessions, the attendees were divided into groups based on their level of government. Three groups consisted of a mix of county engineers and LTAP staff. A fourth group consisted solely of State DOT staff. The members of the 3 county level/LTAP groups changed with each breakout session to allow attendees to hear from different individuals and/or exchange information in a small group setting.

Each State delegation spent time developing Action Plans at the end of the peer exchange. A virtual peer exchange will be coordinated within the next year to follow up with attendees on their progress.

The Roadway Safety P2P provides technical assistance on policy, program, and technical issues across a broad range of roadway safety topics. The program is designed to help agencies develop and implement effective strategies and programs that reduce roadway fatalities and serious injuries on public roads. For additional information about the Roadway Safety Peer-to-Peer Program, visit http://rspcb.safety.fhwa.dot.gov/technical.aspx.