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Public Roads - Winter 2019

Winter 2019
Issue No:
Vol. 82 No. 4
Publication Number:
Table of Contents

Internet Watch

Finding the Right Safety Tool for the Job

by Stuart Thompson and Frank Goss

Sometimes finding the right data solution is like looking for a hammer and only finding a screwdriver. While a multitude of new safety data and analysis tools support data-driven decisionmaking, the identification and selection of an appropriate tool can be a daunting task. To help, the Federal Highway Administration developed the Roadway Safety Data and Analysis Toolbox.

“There is a wealth of resources in the area of road safety, and new guides and tools are released regularly. It can be difficult to figure out where to start when you are looking for safety-related tools,” says Ida Van Schalkwyk, a safety, policy, and innovations engineer at the Washington State Department of Transportation. “The toolbox can help to identify potential resources and find the latest version of guides and tools.”

The toolbox is available at It includes guides, software, and databases from diverse sources. A Web-based interface helps users filter and search through more than 200 safety data and analysis tools based on self-identified needs, capabilities, and resources.

The virtual toolbox serves as a clearinghouse of roadway safety data and analysis tools to meet a wide range of user needs. The tools are divided into four categories: Manage, Analyze, Collect, and Research. The Manage tools can help managers develop policies and practices, set budgets, allocate resources, make safety investments, identify training needs, and manage a safety program. The Analyze section offers information about the use, strengths, limitations, and data requirements of analysis tools and methods to help agencies get the most out of the dollars they spend. The Collect tools can help data collectors and stewards understand what safety data to collect, how to collect and maintain data, how to ensure quality, and how to integrate various sources of data for analysis. Research supports continuous improvement of data and analysis techniques as the science of safety continues to evolve. This section provides information about various datasets and new analysis techniques that can help facilitate safety research.

New Additions

Since the launch of the toolbox in April 2015, FHWA has removed and replaced obsolete tools, updated links, and added new tools. Most recently, FHWA added the following five information guides.

The All Roads Network of Linear Referenced Data (ARNOLD) Reference Manual helps users to understand the importance and value of high quality safety data. It offers information on how to establish or evaluate safety management policies and practices, develop integrated safety data systems, and assess resources required to collect and manage safety data.

Road Safety Fundamentals provides information on the importance and value of data-driven decisionmaking, how to establish or evaluate safety management policies and practices, and how to enhance collection and management techniques for safety data.

The Model Inventory of Roadway Elements (MIRE) 2.0 provides a structure for roadway inventory data that enables State and local transportation agencies to use analysis tools with their own data rather than rely on default values that may not reflect local conditions.

Crash Costs for Highway Safety Analysis (FHWA-SA-17-071) describes the various sources of crash costs, current practices used by States, and critical considerations when modifying and applying crash unit costs. It also explores the feasibility of establishing national values for crash unit costs.

The Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) Field Manual provides a comprehensive overview of the HPMS program and describes the data collection and reporting requirements for HPMS.

Maintaining an Up-to-Date Resource

FHWA’s Roadway Safety Data Program welcomes input from users to improve and update the toolbox through three methods. There are links from the home page to provide general feedback, submit information on a particular tool or resource to be added to the toolbox, or identify gaps without suggesting a specific tool. Future updates will add case studies, enhanced search functions, links to additional resources, brief training videos, and topic-based overviews.

For more information, contact Stuart Thompson at


Stuart Thompson is a transportation specialist with FHWA’s Office of Safety Roadway Safety Data Program.

Frank Goss is a highway safety engineer with Vanasse Hangen Brustlin (VHB).