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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

2023 Excellence in Highway Safety Data Award

Awards program encourages students to prepare for a career in highway safety by using high-quality data and prioritizing safety in research.

2023 Excellence in Highway Safety Data Award

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Award Details

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is pleased to announce the Excellence in Highway Safety Data Award, part of the Highway Data Analysis Excellence Awards Program, which is designed to encourage university students to use Highway Safety Information System (HSIS) data to investigate a topic that advances highway safety and to develop a paper to document the original research.

The Excellence in Highway Safety Data Award’s goal is to encourage university students to use HSIS data with the intent of introducing potential future highway safety professionals to good quality safety data, the application of appropriate research methods to derive recommendations, and the practice of using data to make decisions.

Download Award flier (PDF)

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Eligibility and Guidelines

The Excellence in Highway Safety Data Award research paper competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students in degree-granting programs that support highway safety.

Current graduate and undergraduate students are encouraged to develop papers for the competition based on their use of HSIS data. Individuals who have graduated from a program within 6 months prior to the submission date are also eligible, if the paper is based on work conducted as part of the program.

The following requirements must be met by all applicants and submissions for the 2023 Award:

Applicant(s) must be enrolled as a graduate or undergraduate student in the 2022-2023 academic year (i.e., Fall 2022 - Spring 2023) at a U.S. university campus located in the United States or have graduated from such a program in the spring, summer, or fall semester of 2022.

• Topic

In their submitted papers, applicants must use HSIS data, which include data from the States of California, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, and Washington, and the city of Charlotte, NC, to investigate a topic that advances highway safety.

Analysis must be conducted on data requested and acquired* from HSIS (

While not mandatory, applicants are encouraged to use other data sources in support of the primary analysis using HSIS data, such as data from the following sources: other States or localities; Long-Term Pavement Performance program; Motorcycle Crash Causation Study database**; Roadway Lighting Database**; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; second Strategic Highway Research Program, such as Naturalistic Driving Study or Roadway Information database; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; and/or U.S. Census Bureau.

*Interested participants can initiate an HSIS data request from (
** For more information and/or to request either of these databases, please contact Carol Tan, Safety Data and Analysis Team Leader, at

• Word count
The length of each paper must be 2,500-5,000 words, including the abstract, text, references, and tables. Each table counts as 250 words. If 4 tables are submitted, the abstract, text, and references may total no more than 4,000 words. Papers not meeting this requirement may be rejected without review.

• Original research
All 2022 papers should contain at least 50 percent new, original content, and the remaining 50 percent should not be verbatim to previously published work and/or a manuscript previously submitted to the HSIS paper competition.

• Individual or group work
Submissions by individual students or groups of students will be considered. Teams, however, must define one lead student and contributing students for the project (prizes reflect this requirement). Faculty can participate in an advisory role but cannot be coauthors on the paper.

* Note: The turnaround time for requested HSIS data,, is normally less than 2 weeks; however, the time needed to conduct analysis of this data varies per project. Please be sure to plan accordingly and in advance of the paper submission deadline.


Evaluation Criteria

Papers submitted to the 2023 competition will be evaluated on the following criteria and assigned point values:

• Objective of paper and emphasis on safety. (10 points)
Is the objective of the paper clearly stated and relevant to the safety community? For example, using the HSIS data to model the impacts of signal spacing on capacity does not have an emphasis on safety. However, using the HSIS data to model the impact of signal spacing on crashes is a more appropriate topic.

• Importance of HSIS data to paper topic. (20 points)
Was the use of HSIS data critical to achieving the objective of the paper? The paper should focus on the use of the HSIS and how critical it is in completing the objective of the study. HSIS data can be used in conjunction with other data sources and linked together.

• Soundness of methodology. (20 points)
Is the approach appropriate for the data? The paper should describe and use appropriate data analysis techniques that suit the objectives.

• Analysis of HSIS data. (40 points)
Was the analysis of the HSIS data, specifically, correctly and clearly conducted? The paper should analyze the HSIS data using the proposed statistical analysis techniques.

• Discussion of results. (10 points)
Were the results discussed appropriately? The specific findings of the analysis are not part of the evaluation criteria; instead, the evaluation instead focuses on the discussion of the results.

For example, if a study on signal spacing found no effect on crashes, this will not affect the evaluation of the paper. The student should discuss the implications of the results, including a critical review of the methodology and the potential for future research.


Submission Details and Deadline

The 2023 online submission process will open January 1, 2023, via the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Awards website and process*.

    Step 1: Develop and write paper per above requirements and guidelines.
    Step 2: Download 2023 Submission Cover Sheet.
    Step 3: Submit PDF (of all materials) via instructions/process outlined on ITE website.
    *NOTE: after following this link, make sure to "Login with ITE" before submitting a paper.

Papers due: March 1, 2023, 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time

The turnaround time for requested HSIS data is normally less than 2 weeks; however, time needed to conduct analysis of these data varies per project. Please be sure to plan accordingly and in advance of the paper submission deadline.

Award Prizes

  1st Place 2nd Place 3rd Place
A cash Prize will be awarded to each lead author of a winning team (1st place: $1,000; 2nd place: $500; 3rd place: $250 United States dollars). $1,000 $500 $250
Authors will be recognized at the ITE 2023 Annual Meeting and Exhibition All authors will be acknowledged, and each lead author of a winning team will receive a plaque. x x x
Registration for the 2023 ITE Annual Meeting and Exhibition will be provided to the lead author of each winning team only. x x x
Lodging (2 nights) will be provided for the lead authors of the 1st and 2nd place winning teams to attend the 2023 ITE Annual Meeting and Exhibition. x x  
Roundtrip, domestic airfare will be provided for the lead author of the 1st place winning team to attend the 2023 ITE Annual Meeting and Exhibition. x    
Publication of the 1st place winning paper will appear in the September 2023 ITE Journal and/or on the HSIS website. x    

All prizes, including travel reimbursements, are subject to FHWA rules, regulations, and approval at the time of the award.

About HSIS


HSIS is a safety database that contains crash, roadway inventory, and traffic volume data for a select group of States and cities. The participating agencies were selected based on the quality and quantity of data available, and their ability to merge data from various files. FHWA uses the HSIS to support the FHWA safety research program and provides input for program policy decisions.

The FHWA has used HSIS data to analyze a large number of safety problems. These safety problems can range from the more basic "problem identification" issues to identifying the size and extent of a safety problem to modeling efforts that attempt to predict future crashes from roadway characteristics and traffic factors.

The FHWA also provides HSIS data to professionals conducting research under the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, universities, and others studying highway safety. Results from many of the studies have been used to develop new safety policies and establish improved safety practices.

The HSIS Research Paper Competition is jointly administered by FHWA and the Institute of Transportation Engineers.

Last updated: Wednesday, June 14, 2023