U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Roadway Safety Professional Capacity Building Program

Systemic Safety Implementation Peer Exchange (Summary)

November 18-19, 2014
Columbus, OH

About the Peer Exchange

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

November 18-19, 2014


Key Participants
Representatives from:

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Pennsylvania
  • FHWA Office of Safety

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


Systemic safety involves the use of countermeasures that are widely implemented based on high-risk roadway features correlated with particular severe crash types. Data shows that a majority of fatal crashes occur on rural roads. However, these crashes are not evenly distributed across the many miles of rural roadways, making it difficult to isolate high-crash locations for safety improvements. Systemic safety is a proactive approach that helps agencies broaden their safety efforts and consider risk as well as crash history when identifying where to implement low-cost safety improvements.

To assist agencies with advancing the implementation of the systemic approach to safety, especially at the local level, the FHWA Office of Safety hosted a Systemic Safety Implementation Peer Exchange on November 18 and 19, 2014 in Columbus, Ohio. The peer exchange provided a forum for participants to discuss and exchange ideas on the application of systemic safety analysis, how their agencies are implementing a systemic safety program, and the systemic safety countermeasures being used.

Thirty eight attendees participated in the peer exchange with Federal, State, and local representatives from Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania in attendance. 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 from their peers to advance the implementation of systemic safety. Each State was encouraged to share their noteworthy practices and strategies as well as challenges and barriers experienced with the systemic approach to safety.

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.

Key Takeaways

Attendees identified the following key takeaways from the peer exchange.

The FHWA Division Office is a resource and can assist State and local agencies with advancing a systemic safety program. FHWA staff can also attend meetings to help promote the benefits of the systemic approach to safety.

  • Obtain public buy-in for systemic safety at ALL levels.
  • It is important to understand the difference between systemic and systematic safety. Case studies, which include information on true systemic programs, are available on the FHWA website (http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/systemic/).
  • If there is no data to start with, use low/medium/high as systemic risk factor categories.
  • Linking crash data and roadway data to develop systemic safety projects is a challenge.
  • It is important to evaluate systemic projects.
  • Use a multi-year contract for implementation of infrastructure improvements.
  • The following programs/initiatives were of interest to attendees, with some agencies indicating they will try to replicate them.
    • Local road safety plans.
    • Connecticut's use of a van to collect their own roadway inventory data. Connecticut has two vans for the State system, but they want to expand to the local system.
    • Delaware's sign de-clutter initiative.
    • Iowa's spreadsheet for inputting a curve's characteristics to determine what type of signs to use. This spreadsheet is available at http://www.iowadot.gov/traffic/horizontalcurve.html.
    • Lapeer County, Michigan's fixed object program.
    • Louisiana's contract to collect local road data.
    • Louisiana's incorporation of roadway data into the crash analysis.
    • The pedestrian/bicycle safety posters/cards developed by the Lafayette Metropolitan Planning Organization.
    • Louisiana's use of GIS to help identify curve locations for safety improvements.
    • Ohio's Township Sign Program, which pushes projects out through direct contact with local agencies.
    • Ohio's use of multi-agency contracts. This method is especially useful when locals do not want to use the Federal-aid process.
    • Pennsylvania's benefit/cost reports.
    • Pennsylvania's Traffic Safety Development Course/Workbook.