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Meeting the Challenge: Safety

Although tremendous progress has been made to improve highway safety, nearly 33,000 people still die in highway vehicle crashes each year. FHWA is working to prevent deaths and injuries by identifying and analyzing critical road safety issues. The Agency's comprehensive approach uses engineering, enforcement, education, and emergency services to reduce deaths and serious injuries.

FHWA's safety research program addresses the causes of roadway deaths and injuries related to roadway design, construction, and maintenance. The safety research program develops robust data analysis tools that enable transportation professionals to match crash causes with cost-effective countermeasures. With safety resources aimed at targeted safety problems, State and local agencies can deliver significant safety improvements to the public.

FHWA develops and promotes programs and technologies that have led to fewer injuries and deaths on the Nation's roads. For example, support for the implementation of roundabouts has reduced the potential for crashes at intersections and the use of longitudinal rumble strips warns drivers when their vehicles begin to stray from their lanes. Reflective traffic signs and pavement markings also make traffic control devices more visible and keep drivers aware of the road environment.

Training and technical assistance programs provided by program offices and the Resource Center extend the reach of FHWA safety research. Through these professional development activities, State and local transportation professionals gain the knowledge and tools they need to launch innovative and effective safety improvement initiatives for motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists.

Objective 1: Support the Systematic Planning, Management, and Evaluation of Roadway Safety


  • Encourage the use of analytical, data-driven processes to improve safety decisions.
  • Develop and deploy tools, processes, and guidance to support evidence-based safety decisionmaking.
  • Evaluate and improve safety data collection and analysis programs, products, and countermeasures.

Showcase Activities

  • Analyzing Driver Behavior to Understand the Factors Contributing to Highway Crashes
  • Vehicle-to-Infrastructure Communications for Safety Support and Development for the Connected-Vehicle Program
  • Highway Safety Information System (HSIS) VI
  • Interactive Highway Safety Design Model
  • Evaluation of Low Cost Safety Improvements Pooled Fund Study
  • Development of Crash Modification Factors
  • Crash Modification Factors Clearinghouse and Training

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

Objective 2: Accelerate the Reduction in Injury and Fatal Crashes at Intersections


  • Provide technical assistance and training to promote noteworthy practices in intersection safety.
  • Promote innovative solutions through outreach, marketing, and technical evaluation.
  • Analyze existing data to improve identification and assessment of intersection problems.
  • Research, evaluate, and develop intersection safety analysis methods and tools.
  • Identify and evaluate promising new intersection designs and technologies.
  • Develop, evaluate, and deploy intersection safety countermeasures.

Showcase Activities

  • Field Evaluation of Double Crossover Diamond Interchanges
  • Field Evaluation of Detection-Control System
  • Safety Evaluation of Access Management Policies and Techniques
  • Field and Safety Evaluation of Mini-Roundabouts

 Visit the Objective 2: Showcase Activities page for more details.

Objective 3: Increase Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety and Mobility


  • Develop tools to improve identification and assessment of pedestrian and bicycle safety problems through data analysis.
  • Develop and evaluate countermeasures that address safety issues for pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Deliver, market, and evaluate products and technologies to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

Showcase Activities

  • Pedestrian Safety Strategic Plan: Recommendations for Research and Product Development
  • Human Factors Assessment of Pedestrian Midblock Behavior
  • Evaluation of Pedestrian Safety Engineering Countermeasures at Urban and Suburban Midblock Crossing Locations

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

Objective 4: Provide Policy and Technical Assistance to State and Local Agencies in Reducing Fatalities, Injuries, and Crashes


  • Identify and promote effective methods and technologies for creating a safer road environment with appropriate travel speeds, consistent speed limits, and condition-responsive warnings.
  • Conduct research and evaluation to better define the relationship between speed and safety.
  • Improve the level of knowledge, understanding, and awareness of the dangers of speeding among safety professionals and the driving public.

Showcase Activities

  • Informational Report on Methods to Achieve Safe Speeds on Rural and Suburban Roadways
  • Evaluation of Speed-Activated Displays on Curves

Visit the Objective 4: Showcase Activities page for more details

Objective 5: Reduce Crashes and Fatalities Due to Roadway Departure


  • Research and analyze roadway crashes to improve understanding of crash causes.
  • Develop methods and tools for the design and evaluation of roadway departure programs and treatments.
  • Develop and evaluate innovative countermeasures for roadway departure crashes.
  • Deploy products, guidance, and training and provide technical support to help States keep vehicles on the roadway and minimize the consequences of leaving the roadway.

Showcase Activities

  • Safety Effects of Horizontal Curve and Grade Combinations on Rural Two-Lane Highways
  • Analysis of Influences of Highway Features on Rollover Crashes
  • Analysis of Crash Testing of Infrastructure Security Barriers
  • Vehicle and Hardware Finite Element Models
  • Safety Edge(SM)

 Visit the Objective 5: Showcase Activities page for more details.

Objective 6: Improve the Visibility On and Along the Roadway and of Traffic Control Devices


  • Research and analyze the impacts of roadway lighting and visibility on safety.
  • Develop cost-effective new practices and technologies to improve visibility.
  • Provide technical support on visibility issues.

Showcase Activities

  • Strategic Initiative for the Evaluation of Reduced Lighting on Roadways
  • Impact of Spectral Power Distribution on Driver Performance

 Visit the Objective 6: Showcase Activities page for more details.

Objective 7: Reduce Motorcycle Crashes and Fatalities


  • Conduct research to help identify the causes of motorcycle crashes.
  • Develop and evaluate countermeasures to address motorcycle safety issues.
  • Promote the deployment of effective countermeasures that address motorcycle safety issues.
  • Deploy products, guidance, and training to help States reduce motorcycle crashes and fatalities.

Showcase Activities

  • Motorcycle Crash Causation Study

 Visit the Objective 7: Showcase Activities page for more details.

Objective 8: Reduce Fatalities and Serious Injuries on Local and Rural Roads


  • Conduct outreach to elevate awareness of roadway safety issues and notable practices among local elected officials and provide technical assistance navigating the Federal-aid funding process.
  • Develop and deploy tools and technologies to help road owners develop and design local solutions to their roadway safety issues.
  • Promote the use of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technologies to improve safety on local and rural roads.

Showcase Activities

  • Low-Cost Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Safety Countermeasures

 Visit the Objective 8: Showcase Activities page for more details.

Objective 9: Improve the Understanding of How Road Users Perceive, Process, and Respond to the Roadway Environment to Inform Better Roadway Design, Construction, Repair, and Improvement Processes


  • Research highway user needs and capabilities to advance the understanding of safety impacts and design implications.
  • Provide technical support on human factors issues.

Showcase Activities

  • Pilot for Study of Driver Behavior on Horizontal Curves
  • Understanding Driver Expectations When Navigating Complex Interchanges
  • Improving Signing and Markings at Complex Interchanges
  • Multiple Sources of Safety Information From V2V and V2I: Redundancy, Decision Making, and Trust--Safety Message Design Report

 Visit the Objective 9: Showcase Activities page for more details.

Updated: Thursday, January 24, 2019