You are here

Meeting the Challenge: Policy

Policy decisions made today will shape the highway transportation system of tomorrow. FHWA evaluates the impacts of a broad range of policy options and analyzes current and emerging issues that will affect the way transportation systems are built, maintained, and used.

Forecasting the effects of proposed legislation and policy decisions requires quality transportation data. FHWA provides guidance and tools that standardize how transportation professionals collect data on highway system characteristics such as road types, funding methods, and travel patterns. Consistent national data provide a snapshot of today's transportation system that is essential for good policy and for projecting future requirements.

By keeping an eye on policy trends, FHWA helps its stakeholders and partners address current transportation challenges and anticipate future needs.

For example, FHWA's policy research initiatives refine current methods and procedures used to analyze the impacts, benefits, and costs of highway infrastructure investments. Through research studies that explore transportation topics pertinent to State, local, and Tribal governments, FHWA helps these entities identify and cooperatively address issues that may have budgetary and legislative implications. FHWA also promotes interagency collaboration and the sharing of program innovations by facilitating information exchanges between the United States, other countries, and international organizations.

Objective 1: Evaluate Impacts of a Broad Range of Policy Options and Analyze Current and Emerging Issues


  • Research and evaluate policy strategies, alternatives, and outcomes that address current transportation challenges.
  • Research emerging transportation policy issues and future challenges.
  • Research and analyze transportation finance policy, revenue generation strategies, and technology issues.
  • Update transportation models and technical tools used to examine transportation policy issues.
  • Develop and deploy tools to assist State and local governments in adopting performance-management principles.
  • Develop and refine microeconomic models, tools, and procedures for estimating the benefits and costs of highway and bridge investments and predicting the impact of such investments on future system conditions and operational performance.
  • Develop macroeconomic tools and techniques for analyzing the effects of highway infrastructure on the national economy.

Showcase Activities

  • Studying the Next Generation of Travelers
  • Conditions and Performance Report to Congress
  • Incorporating Connected/Automated Vehicles in Transportation Planning Processes and Products
  • Tools for Estimating Benefit-Cost Analysis and Economic Development Benefits of Connected Vehicle Deployments at Local, Regional, and Statewide

 Visit the Objective 1: Showcase Activities page for more details.

Objective 2: Promote the Efficient, Systematic, and Comprehensive Collection and Utilization of National Transportation Data


  • Collect, maintain, and disseminate national transportation data to support decisionmakers.
  • Develop improved methods, procedures, guidelines, and technical tools for the collection and reporting of transportation data.
  • Develop new methods and approaches to present national transportation data, and to transform data into usable information and knowledge.
  • Develop and implement tools to link transportation datasets, thereby increasing utilization efficiencies and reducing the potential for data collection duplications.
  • Research remedies and preventative measures to eliminate and reduce Federal gas tax evasions in areas of diesel fuel usage.

Showcase Activities

  • Developing Standards, Procedures, and Methods to Promote Efficient, Systematic, and Comprehensive Transportation Data Collection
  • Providing Value-Added Analysis to National Transportation Data
  • Establishing Efficient Highway Performance Monitoring System Data System for State Highway Agencies

Visit the Objective 2: Showcase Activities page for more details

Objective 3: Research Intergovernmental Issues between States, Cities, and Tribal Governments that Impact Transportation Policy


  • Organize cooperative research studies and work sessions on transportation topics facing Tribal governments.
  • Research policy trends in relationships between State, Federal, and Tribal transportation agencies.

Showcase Activities

  • Mission-Critical Legislation and Policy Analysis

 Visit the Objective 3: Showcase Activities page for more details.

Objective 4: Promote the Exchange of Highway Technology and Program Innovations


  • Study, observe, and document technologies and practices used in other countries that could significantly improve highway transportation in the United States.
  • Organize, facilitate, and participate in information exchanges, meetings, workshops, and conferences between the United States and international and foreign transportation entities.
  • Coordinate and facilitate joint research and training activities between the United States and international and foreign transportation entities.

Showcase Activities

  • Exchanging Solutions With Other Countries Through International Partnerships

 Visit the Objective 4: Showcase Activities page for more details.

Updated: Wednesday, July 18, 2018