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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
FHWA Highway Safety Programs

Highway Safety Improvement Program Special Rules

HRRR Special Rule
Older Drivers and Pedestrians Special Rule
VRU Safety Special Rule

Program Overview

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) (Pub. L. 117-58, also known as the "Bipartisan Infrastructure Law" (BIL)), was signed into law on November 15, 2021. Among other things, the BIL established a new Special Rule under the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) under section 148 of title 23 of the United States Code (U.S.C.) for vulnerable road user (VRU) safety and continued the two existing special rules for High-Risk Rural Roads (HRRR) and Older Drivers and Pedestrians without change. The VRU Special Rule is part of a larger focus on non-motorist safety that includes a new requirement for States to complete VRU safety assessments (23 U.S.C. 148(l)).

This page provides information to support implementation of the three Special Rules in 23 U.S.C. 148(g) as part of the HSIP:

  • HRRR Special Rule (23 U.S.C. 148(g)(1));
  • Older Drivers and Pedestrians Special Rule (23 U.S.C. 148(g)(2)); and
  • VRU Safety Special Rule (23 U.S.C. 148(g)(3)).

FHWA issued guidance on February 2, 2022 for the HSIP Special Rules available on FHWA's website at the following URL: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/safety/legislative-safety-programs/hsip/hsip-special-rules-guidance.


High Risk Rural Roads (HRRR)

Program Overview

High Risk Rural Roads are defined in 23 U.S.C. 148(a)(1) as "any roadway functionally classified as a rural major or minor collector or a rural local road with significant safety risks, as defined by a State in accordance with an updated State strategic highway safety plan."

While the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) (Pub. L. 112-141), signed into law on July 6, 2012, eliminated the $90 million set-aside for the HRRR program, it also established a Special Rule for high risk rural road safety under 23 U.S.C. 148(g)(1). The HRRR Special Rule was continued with the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) (Pub. L. 114-94) and the BIL without change and requires a State to obligate a certain amount of funds on HRRRs if the fatality rate on its rural roads increases over the most recent 2-year period for which data are available.

Policy and Guidance

While HRRRs are limited to the functional classifications of rural major and minor collectors and rural local roads, only those "with significant safety risks" as defined by each State in their updated State Strategic Highway Safety Plans (SHSPs) are considered HRRRs. More information on how a State may determine what a "significant safety risk" is can be found in the HSIP Special Rules Guidance.

As discussed in the guidance, the HRRR Special Rule applies if "the fatality rate on rural roads in a State increases over the most recent 2-year period for which data are available." To calculate the fatality rate for rural major and minor collectors and rural local roads in a State, FHWA will use data from the Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). If the HRRR Special Rule applies to a State, under 23 U.S.C. 148(g)(1), the State must obligate in the following fiscal year an amount equal to at least 200 percent of its FY 2009 high risk rural roads set-aside for high risk rural roads, as defined in their State SHSP (shown in table below). The FHWA Office of Safety will update the Division Offices for each State where the Special Rule applies.

For additional information on HRRR Special Rule obligation requirements and the next steps if a State subject to the HRRR Special Rule does not fully obligate HRRR Special Rule set-aside funds and associated obligation limitation, please see the HSIP Special Rules Guidance FHWA issued in February, 2022. 

Table: 2009 Set-Aside Amounts and Obligation Requirements for HRRR Special Rule
Source: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/legsregs/directives/notices/n4510742/n4510742t17.cfm


State

2009 HRRR
set-aside funds
Funds required to be obligated
in a fiscal year for HRRR
if the HSIP HRRR
Special Rule applies
Alabama $2,062,489 $4,124,978
Alaska $450,000 $900,000
Arizona $2,046,858 $4,093,716
Arkansas $1,374,327 $2,748,654
California $8,781,564 $17,563,128
Colorado $1,413,042 $2,826,084
Connecticut $751,445 $1,502,890
Delaware $450,000 $900,000
District of Columbia $450,000 $900,000
Florida $4,722,502 $9,445,004
Georgia $3,149,726 $6,299,452
Hawaii $450,000 $900,000
Idaho $647,399 $1,294,798
Illinois $3,024,273 $6,048,546
Indiana $1,756,645 $3,513,290
Iowa $1,335,895 $2,671,790
Kansas $1,575,055 $3,150,110
Kentucky $1,439,993 $2,879,986
Louisiana $1,542,587 $3,085,174
Maine $450,000 $900,000
Maryland $1,331,794 $2,663,588
Massachusetts $1,136,838 $2,273,676
Michigan $2,926,006 $5,852,012
Minnesota $1,810,055 $3,620,110
Mississippi $1,639,574 $3,279,148
Missouri $2,328,568 $4,657,136
Montana $694,880 $1,389,760
Nebraska $938,461 $1,876,922
Nevada $743,907 $1,487,814
New Hampshire $450,000 $900,000
New Jersey $1,666,605 $3,333,210
New Mexico $943,712 $1,887,424
New York $3,095,686 $6,191,372
North Carolina $2,363,489 $4,726,978
North Dakota $628,833 $1,257,666
Ohio $2,757,751 $5,515,502
Oklahoma $1,899,409 $3,798,818
Oregon $1,220,060 $2,440,120
Pennsylvania $2,883,447 $5,766,894
Rhode Island $450,000 $900,000
South Carolina $2,008,769 $4,017,538
South Dakota $758,550 $1,517,100
Tennessee $2,118,260 $4,236,520
Texas $7,286,076 $14,572,152
Utah $665,659 $1,331,318
Vermont $450,000 $900,000
Virginia $2,229,887 $4,459,774
Washington $1,572,286 $3,144,572
West Virginia $805,658 $1,611,316
Wisconsin $1,868,071 $3,736,142
Wyoming $453,909 $907,818

Additional Resources

Noteworthy Practice: Funding High Risk Rural Road Projects (FHWA-SA-18-070) – Case study highlighting Kansas DOT overcoming limited data and proactively identifying HRRR projects using a systemic approach.

Noteworthy Practice: Partnerships to Use High Risk Rural Roads Special Rule Funds (FHWA-SA-19-035) – Case study highlighting Colorado DOT who successfully partnered with Federal, State and local agencies on HRRR safety solutions.

Manual for Selecting Safety Improvements on High Risk Rural Roads (FHWA-HOP-14-075) – Provides information on improving safety on HRRRs including safety benefits, a cost-effectiveness comparison of safety treatments, applicability of treatment deployment, maintenance costs, and decision-making processes for selecting treatments.

Implementing the High Risk Rural Roads Program (FHWA-SA-10-012) – Documents common challenges, noteworthy practices, and lessons learned through the first 4 years of implementation of the HRRR Program under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) (Pub. L. 109-59). While this document was published in 2010 and the HRRR Program has since been updated by MAP-21, the FAST Act, and the BIL, some of the information in the report may still be of interest to States.

Local and Rural Road Safety Program – Provides national leadership in identifying, developing, and delivering safety programs and products to agencies, elected officials, governments, and other stakeholders to improve safety on local and rural roads.


Older Driver and Pedestrians Special Rule

Program Overview

Per 23 U.S.C. 148(g)(2), if the rate per capita of traffic fatalities and serious injuries for drivers and pedestrians age 65 and over in a State increases over the most recent 2-year period for which data are available, the Older Driver and Pedestrian Special Rule requires a State to include strategies to address the increases in those rates in their State Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP). FHWA issued the HSIP Special Rules Guidance in February 2, 2022 to provide guidance and information on how to determine if the Special Rule applies in a State.

Policy and Guidance

To determine whether the Older Drivers and Pedestrian Special Rule applies in a State, the FHWA will consider older drivers and older pedestrians collectively. States report fatalities and serious injuries involving older drivers and pedestrians 65 years of age and older, consistent with the most current version of the HSIP Special Rules Guidance. In accordance with FHWA's HSIP Reporting Guidance, States should provide seven years of data, ending with the year prior to the most current full year of data.

As discussed in the HSIP Special Rules Guidance, the Older Drivers and Pedestrians Special Rule applies if "the rate of traffic fatalities and serious injuries for drivers and pedestrians 65 years of age or older…in a State increases during the most recent 2-year period." To calculate the fatality and serious injury rate for older drivers and pedestrians in a State, FHWA will use fatality data from the NHTSA FARS, serious injury data from the State's annual Highway Safety Improvement Program report, and population data from the U.S. Census Bureau (shown in table below).

If the Older Drivers and Pedestrians Special Rule applies to a State, per 23 U.S.C. 148(g)(2), that State shall include, in its subsequent SHSP update, strategies to address the increase in the older driver and older pedestrian fatal and serious injuries rate, taking into account the treatments listed in the 2014 FHWA publication, "Handbook for Designing Roadways for the Aging Population". The State also should conduct a secondary analysis to determine whether the increase is attributable to driver fatalities and injuries, pedestrian fatalities and injuries, or a combination of the two. This helps a State determine whether the emphasis on safety programs and countermeasures should be focused on drivers and/or pedestrians. The FHWA Office of Safety will update the Division Offices for each State where the Special Rule applies.

For additional information on Older Drivers and Pedestrians Special Rule requirements and implementation, please see the HSIP Special Rules Guidance FHWA issued in February, 2022. 

Table: Population of Persons Aged 65 Years and Older (thousands)
Source: https://data.census.gov/cedsci/

State 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Alabama 747 762 784 803 830 854 882
Alaska 70 71 76 83 88 91 98
Arizona 1,071 1,120 1,170 1,201 1,259 1,307 1,387
Arkansas 465 478 486 497 508 524 542
California 4,990 5,190 5,348 5,505 5,667 5,835 6,082
Colorado 680 712 743 774 808 845 885
Connecticut 556 565 577 601 613 629 651
Delaware 154 161 167 173 181 190 199
District of Columbia 74 77 79 84 86 88 91
Florida 3,791 3,945 4,091 4,215 4,359 4,498 4,674
Georgia 1,249 1,303 1,359 1,402 1,456 1,523 1,589
Hawaii 228 237 244 254 261 269 314
Idaho 235 243 256 263 279 289 309
Illinois 1,788 1,828 1,873 1,948 1,991 2,045 2,104
Indiana 941 965 993 1,024 1,051 1,084 1,123
Iowa 491 501 514 525 538 554 569
Kansas 418 426 438 447 462 478 493
Kentucky 653 674 688 709 731 755 776
Louisiana 631 654 674 696 721 742 770
Maine 243 251 257 267 276 286 296
Maryland 822 847 876 903 931 960 998
Massachusetts 1,016 1,044 1,074 1,108 1,138 1,172 1,208
Michigan 1,531 1,571 1,609 1,665 1,720 1,766 1,828
Minnesota 778 805 830 859 889 921 954
Mississippi 427 441 450 466 474 487 503
Missouri 932 951 977 1,010 1,035 1,058 1,100
Montana 170 179 184 190 200 208 216
Nebraska 271 279 285 295 304 312 321
Nevada 401 422 442 459 475 498 528
New Hampshire 209 218 227 236 245 253 265
New Jersey 1,312 1,343 1,372 1,416 1,438 1,475 1,524
New Mexico 318 331 342 350 368 378 395
New York 2,896 2,962 3,031 3,161 3,212 3,296 3,409
North Carolina 1,461 1,516 1,569 1,630 1,689 1,751 1,828
North Dakota 105 107 110 113 116 120 124
Ohio 1,797 1,840 1,885 1,940 1,996 2,044 2,112
Oklahoma 562 576 588 601 620 635 671
Oregon 634 660 689 709 740 767 801
Pennsylvania 2,134 2,181 2,222 2,277 2,332 2,388 2,462
Rhode Island 167 171 174 177 183 187 194
South Carolina 762 794 830 866 900 936 983
South Dakota 129 135 138 142 146 154 158
Tennessee 987 1,016 1,045 1,070 1,105 1,139 1,190
Texas 3,096 3,222 3,353 3,465 3,600 3,739 3,909
Utah 295 308 319 335 351 365 384
Vermont 107 110 114 117 124 125 130
Virginia 1,147 1,187 1,228 1,272 1,318 1,358 1,415
Washington 993 1,037 1,079 1,118 1,164 1,208 1,267
West Virginia 329 336 344 351 361 367 377
Wisconsin 876 901 927 956 986 1,020 1,053
Wyoming 80 83 88 90 97 99 105
Puerto Rico 617 627 646 659 661 680 697

Additional Resources

"Handbook for Designing Roadways for the Aging Population" (FHWA-SA-14-015) – Provides practitioners with a practical information source that links aging road user performance to highway design, operational, and traffic engineering features. This Handbook supplements existing standards and guidelines in the areas of highway geometry, operations, and traffic control devices.


Vulnerable Road Users (VRU) Safety Special Rule

Program Overview

The BIL established a new Special Rule under 23 U.S.C. 148(g)(3) for VRU safety.

Vulnerable road users are defined in 23 U.S.C. 148(a)(15) as "a nonmotorist—'(A) with a fatality analysis reporting system person attribute code that is included in the definition of the term 'number of non-motorized fatalities’ in section 490.205 of title 23, Code of Federal Regulations (or successor regulations); or '(B) described in the term 'number of non-motorized serious injuries' in that section."

While the statutory definition for "vulnerable road user" includes both "number of nonmotorized fatalities" and "number of serious injuries," the VRU Safety Special Rule only considers non-motorized fatalities, per 23 U.S.C. 148(g)(3). Non-motorized fatalities, by reference to 23 CFR 490.205, refer to fatalities with the FARS person attribute codes for Pedestrian, Bicyclist; Other Cyclist, and Person on Personal Conveyance.

Policy and Guidance

The new VRU Safety Special Rule at 23 U.S.C. 148(g)(3) provides: "If the total annual fatalities of vulnerable road users in a State represents not less than 15 percent of the total annual crash fatalities in the State, that State shall be required to obligate not less than 15 percent of the amounts apportioned to the State under section 104(b)(3) for the following fiscal year for highway safety improvement projects to address the safety of vulnerable road users."

To calculate the percentage of VRU fatalities, FHWA will use data from the NHTSA FARS. If the VRU Safety Special Rule applies to a State, 23 U.S.C. 148(g)(3) requires the State to obligate in the next fiscal year not less than 15 percent of the amounts apportioned to the State under 23 U.S.C. 104(b)(3) for the following fiscal year for highway safety improvement projects to address the safety of vulnerable road users. The FHWA Office of Safety will update the Division Offices for each State where the Special Rule applies.

For additional information on VRU Safety Special Rule obligation requirements and the next steps if a State subject to the Special Rule does not fully obligate VRU Safety Special Rule set-aside funds and associated obligation limitation, please see the HSIP Special Rules Guidance FHWA issued in February, 2022. 

Additional Resources

FARS Manuals and Documentation – NHTSA website housing FARS manuals and documentation.

Last updated: Monday, September 19, 2022