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FHWA Highway Safety Programs

Chapter 1 Overview of the Essential Eight Components

SHSP development and implementation break new ground in the safety arena because multidisciplinary, multimodal, and collaborative relationships have not been standard practice in the past. The pioneering efforts of States over the last few years have brought to light elements that consistently appear in effective implementation efforts. At least four fundamental elements support all SHSP implementation practices: leadership, collaboration, communication, and data collection and analysis. Effective use of these elements is essential for moving forward on the following steps:

  1. Developing emphasis area action plans;
  2. Integrating the SHSP into other transportation and safety plans; and
  3. Developing a marketing strategy.
  4. Monitoring progress, evaluating results, and establishing a feedback loop to ensure SHSP adjustments and updates are continually incorporating experiences and lessons learned.

Figure 1.1 SHSP IPM Elements

Figure 1.1 SHSP IPM Elements

Fundamental Elements


Sustained, visible, and committed leadership is fundamental to successful SHSP implementation. Leaders recognize that implementing an SHSP is a long-term, ongoing process that changes how safety partners interact and collaborate to create and manage effective safety programs.

Leaders are responsible for influencing policy direction, setting priorities, and defining performance expectations for agency staff; affecting the way partner agencies respond to SHSP requirements; controlling time and resource allocation; managing interagency relationships; and establishing accountability for actions and outcomes.

Leadership Roles

SHSP development revealed three fundamental leadership roles important for SHSP implementation. As SHSP implementation becomes more far reaching and complex, these roles may be assumed by different people and agencies with varying levels of authority.

Role 1 – These leaders have access to resources and the ability to implement change; in other words, they may not be involved in the day-to-day management responsibility for program development and implementation, but they are able to “move mountains” in terms of resource allocation and policy support.

Role 2 – These leaders inspire others to follow their direction. They are often referred to as “Champions.” Champions are people who provide enthusiasm and support to SHSP implementation; have excellent interpersonal skills; are expediters; are credible and accountable; tend to be subject matter experts; and are highly respected within their own agencies and in the safety community.

Role 3 – These leaders are often known as program managers, and their activities keep the implementation process on track. They manage the process and attend to the day-to-day tasks of arranging, facilitating, and documenting meetings, tracking progress, and moving discrete activities through to completion.

In some cases, a single person may fulfill all these roles, but it is more often the case that these responsibilities are assumed by multiple people.

Where possible, States should establish SHSP leadership through the Governor, the State’s highest executive office. This sends a clear message to all agencies regarding the importance of highway safety and the need to address it in State programs and policies. It establishes a basis for prioritizing available funding to support transportation safety among all partner agencies. Leadership can also be established through institutionalized partnerships between the Department of Transportation, the State Highway Safety Office, the Department of Public Safety, and other partner agencies. As the lead agencies responsible for SHSP implementation, the partnership provides leadership and ensures that traditional safety-funded programs are driven by the SHSP. The partnership also institutionalizes the continuity necessary to sustain safety efforts through changes of administration and personnel.


The SHSP development process established broad-based collaboration among many agencies and organizations. Internal and external collaboration also is necessary for effective SHSP implementation. Collaborative relationships among safety partners are fundamental to the implementation process because the responsibility for addressing the wide range of programs and disciplines necessary for improving transportation safety falls upon many participants. States can facilitate internal collaboration through agency policies and procedures and support external collaboration through inter/intra-agency communication. Establishing collaborative arrangements where partners regularly work together builds trust and understanding. These collaborations help expand the initiative to the broader safety community and foster widespread understanding and support for safety priorities.

Collaboration results in a wiser use of limited resources and may facilitate the leveraging of additional resources to achieve a broader range of program objectives. For example, multiple agencies may have responsibilities that require the use of crash data. Collaboration among these agencies and individuals is imperative to effectively support crash data collection and analysis and minimize duplication of effort. Solutions reached collaboratively among several agencies and data users result in improved processes, opportunities to apply innovative approaches, and cost-sharing among the agencies. Collaboration on SHSP strategies and/or projects also brings new partners and further expands resources to assist with SHSP implementation.


One of the challenges facing States as they move forward is that the majority of stakeholders already have full-time jobs requiring their time and attention. These stakeholders need to know “what’s in it for them” to sustain their interest and involvement and to enable effective ongoing communication. Describing the vital role each safety stakeholder plays in the SHSP implementation process, as well as the benefits they will receive through participation, builds buy-in and ownership. Conducting regular meetings where stakeholders report on progress, offer opinions on SHSP programs and activities, identify opportunities, solve problems, and celebrate successes builds transparency into the process and maintains communication.

Effective communication within organizations and agencies responsible for SHSP implementation is essential. The existence of institutionalized communication mechanisms to support information sharing among technical and senior staff facilitates decision-making and enables agencies to be more effective.

Data Collection and Analysis

The purpose of a data-driven process is to direct resources to projects and programs with the greatest potential impact. The strength of the SHSP lies in a State’s ability to identify and analyze safety data. Just as data were analyzed to identify crash characteristics, trends and behaviors during the SHSP development phase, data analysis is critical for prioritizing countermeasures, evaluating results, and updating the plan. Data analysis reveals the reductions in fatalities and serious injuries resulting from effective safety programs and countermeasures. By comparing these benefits with other considerations such as cost and resource availability, projects, programs, and resources can be prioritized more effectively.

Steps for Implementation

Emphasis Area Action Plans

SHSPs are implemented through the objectives, strategies, and action plans developed for each emphasis area. Multidisciplinary emphasis area action planning teams that include various agencies and encourage differing perspectives result in more robust safety programs. They keep stakeholders involved, interested, and motivated. The needs and priorities of different agencies should be considered to ensure they have a stake in the SHSP and are committed to its implementation.

An effective action plan describes in detail how each of the strategies will be accomplished through a series of action steps. It identifies the responsible persons and agencies and includes performance measures, deadlines, evaluation criteria, and resource requirements.

Integrating into Other Transportation Plans

Integrating the SHSP into Statewide and metropolitan LRTPs, S/TIPs, HSIPs, CVSPs, HSPs, and other plans and programs advances the safety agenda because they reflect Statewide priorities, provide a blueprint for action for key agencies, and influence resource distribution. A brief description of SHSP integration with each plan or program is provided below.

Long-Range Transportation Plan – LRTPs identify transportation goals, objectives, needs, and performance measures over a 20- to 25-year horizon and provide policy and strategy recommendations for accommodating those needs. Integrate the SHSP into the LRTP by ensuring transportation safety is explicitly addressed within the scope of Statewide and MPO long-range transportation planning processes.

Statewide and Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program – S/TIPs, developed by the States and MPOs, are capital programming documents. These programs are resource constrained and identify projects and funding that reflect society’s mobility, operational, and safety needs. Therefore, they should support the emphasis areas and strategies in the SHSP.

Highway Safety Improvement Program – The purpose of the HSIP is to achieve a significant reduction in the occurrence of and the potential for fatalities and serious injuries resulting from crashes on all public roads through the implementation of infrastructure-related highway safety improvements. This is accomplished through a data-driven program consisting of planning, implementation, and evaluation components. The HSIP also includes the Railway Highway Grade Crossing and High-Risk Rural Roads set-aside programs. SHSP emphasis areas, strategies, and actions can be used as tools for selecting and prioritizing HSIP investment decisions.

Highway Safety Plan – HSPs address behavioral safety areas (e.g., occupant protection, impaired driving, police traffic services, emergency medical services, motorcycle safety, traffic records improvements, and other program areas). The HSP is an annual plan identifying program activities supported by Federal funds targeting identified highway safety problems. These activities may support traffic safety law enforcement, media and public education, prosecution and adjudication, training and many other activities designed to reduce motor vehicle crash-related injuries and fatalities. The emphasis areas of the SHSP and HSP should be consistent.

Commercial Vehicle Safety Plan – The CVSP is a performance-based plan which outlines a State’s commercial vehicle safety objectives, strategies, activities, and performance measures. The CVSP aims to reduce the number and severity of crashes and hazardous materials incidents involving commercial motor vehicles (CMV) through consistent, uniform, and effective CMV safety programs. CVSPs may also address some of the behavioral safety elements in the SHSP.


A well-designed marketing strategy performs several functions, including informing the general public on transportation safety issues, educating key political leaders on their role in saving lives, and encouraging active participation in SHSP implementation activities among safety partners. Marketing to individuals both inside and outside of the transportation community and to nonparticipating partners helps build and maintain support for SHSP implementation. It also broadens the reach of the SHSP to those who may not participate in implementation activities on a regular basis.

Effective SHSP marketing strategies include, among other things, news events, web sites, newsletters, and a branding theme that stakeholders and the public can identify with.

Monitoring, Evaluation, and Feedback

Monitoring, evaluation, and feedback are essential steps for any strategic planning process. They are especially important because most SHSPs have been developed in the recent past and States currently are in the initial stages of implementation. Institutionalizing lessons learned in these early implementation efforts can improve the efficiency of future efforts.

Comprehensive action plans identify the parties responsible for implementing action steps and include performance measures and deadlines. SHSP leadership should establish a monitoring process and assign responsibilities for updating the information frequently. An evaluation process should be developed early to ensure appropriate data are collected for evaluating both the overall program and individual projects. Finally, a feedback loop should be incorporated into the plan to ensure 1) leadership and stakeholders are informed; 2) information is regularly used to make course corrections as implementation takes place; and 3) SHSP updates are based on solid evaluation results.

The following chapters provide details and noteworthy practices on the Essential Eight elements of the SHSP IPM. States began addressing the fundamentals (e.g., leadership, collaboration, communication, and data collection and analysis) and directing efforts toward steps for implementation during the SHSP development process (e.g., developing emphasis area action plans; integrating the SHSP into other transportation plans; marketing the SHSP and related safety efforts; and monitoring, evaluation, and feedback). Continuing these practices throughout the implementation process will lead to sustainable, results-driven safety programs that work.

Each State will implement the SHSP according to the available opportunities and resources. Models, such as this IPM, are representations or ideal States and therefore all parts of the model may not work or be necessary for all States. However, the IPM includes “take-aways” for everyone and States should use the pieces that work best for them.