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FHWA Highway Safety Programs

SHSP IMP Overview


The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in collaboration with partners at the Federal, State, and local levels (e.g., the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)), is leading the effort to implement Strategic Highway Safety Plans (SHSP) across the Nation. To assist States with this task the partners researched noteworthy practices and incorporated them into an SHSP Implementation Process Model (IPM). The IPM is an implementation guide based on research, the experiences of 6 “model” States, feedback from 10 “pilot” States, a panel review by related organizations, and the knowledge and experiences of subject matter experts.


FHWA together with other safety partners provided SHSP development guidance in A Champion’s Guide to Saving Lives. Most states followed some or all of the following steps:

  • Gain leadership support and initiative;
  • Identify a champion;
  • Initiate the development process;
  • Gather data;
  • Analyze data;
  • Establish a working group;
  • Bring safety partners together;
  • Adopt a strategic goal;
  • Identify key emphasis areas;
  • Form task groups;
  • Identify key emphasis area performance-based goals;
  • Identify strategies and countermeasures;
  • Determine priorities for implementation; and
  • Write the SHSP.

To prevent the devastating human and economic consequences of traffic crashes, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) published an SHSP (titled: AASHTO Strategic Highway Safety Plan) in 1997 and encouraged States to develop evidence-based SHSPs addressing the emphasis areas in the AASHTO plan. Some of the States had already produced an SHSP and others began work after the AASHTO plan was published. With passage of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA LU) in 2005, States were required to develop SHSPs, and today each State has completed an SHSP.

The SHSP is a data-driven, comprehensive, multidisciplinary plan integrating the “4E’s” of safety – engineering, education, enforcement, and emergency medical services or emergency response. It establishes Statewide goals, objectives, performance measures, and emphasis areas and is developed in consultation with Federal, State, local, and private sector safety stakeholders. All States are implementing their SHSPs, and many are experiencing remarkable results.

Implementation Process Model (IPM) Methodology

Successful SHSP implementation will result in transportation safety improvements that save lives and reduce injuries. The IPM identifies model practices and processes to support SHSP implementation. This is not to suggest that one size fits all; each State should review the model elements and determine which are useful for overcoming barriers and implementing its SHSP more effectively.

The IPM is based on wisdom gained through developing and implementing The Champion’s Guide for Developing Strategic Highway Safety Plans and reviewing “model” State practices in implementing one or more elements of the SHSP. Extensive interviews with leaders and champions from model States, as well as in-depth examination of SHSPs and various transportation planning and programming documents, highlighted examples of approaches and noteworthy practices some States are using to implement their SHSPs.

IPM Elements

The Essential Eight

The “Essential Eight” refer to the four fundamental elements and the four steps for successful SHSP implementation.

Fundamental Elements

  • Leadership
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Data Collection and Analysis

Steps for Implementation

  • Emphasis Area Action Plans
  • Linkage to Other Plans
  • Marketing
  • Monitoring, Evaluation, and Feedback

Chapter 1 presents an overview of the essential eight components of the IPM – the four fundamental elements and the four steps for successful SHSP implementation. Chapters 2 through 7 provide in-depth discussions of each component, including its description or definition, the rationale supporting its inclusion in the model, and a range of implementation strategies, actions, and process techniques. Specific roles and responsibilities of the various safety stakeholders, (i.e., transportation planners and engineers, law enforcement, educators, and emergency medical services personnel) are described where appropriate.

SHSP implementation must be a consideration from the very start of the planning process. Data analysis, emphasis areas, action planning, and other activities should all be based on a solid understanding of implementation potential and requirements.

The IPM suggests successful implementation requires collaboration, communication, and leadership (Chapter 2); data collection and analysis (Chapter 3); emphasis area action plans (Chapter 4); SHSP integration into other transportation plans and programs (Chapter 5); a marketing plan (Chapter 6); and monitoring, evaluation, and feedback to the planning and implementation process (Chapter 7). The chapters in this document provide an overall framework along with specific strategies and examples States may use to support and enhance implementation efforts.

Using the IPM

Readers should review the first chapter to identify strengths and weaknesses in their own implementation activities. Subsequent chapters describe the fundamental elements and steps needed for successful SHSP implementation.

Each chapter includes a summary list of key strategies and a series of questions for users to assess their implementation efforts. Helpful recommendations and procedures are identified throughout the guide; however, users can also turn immediately to the chapters relating to areas where their implementation efforts are stalled or have not yet started.

For example, if users identify “disconnects” between the SHSP and the HSIP, they can refer directly to Chapter 5 to identify steps in the process where the most beneficial and effective integration can occur. Becoming familiar with how the SHSP is integrated into the HSIP process is the first step to establishing collaboration among people working in both processes.

To effectively manage transportation safety improvement efforts and attract safety funding and other resources, progress must be measured and tracked over time. The guidance within Chapter 7 can help develop methods to assess ongoing progress at the State and metropolitan planning organization (MPO) levels. Demonstrated progress based on crash and other safety data will help make the case for continuing and increasing financial and institutional support for programs devoted to saving lives and reducing injuries.

The IPM is designed to be helpful for well-established safety professionals as well as those new to the field. Together with the FHWA’s Strategic Highway Safety Plans: A Champion’s Guide to Saving Lives, the IPM provides practical guidance for engineers, planners, enforcement personnel, and other safety stakeholders. The IPM provides new executives and leaders representing critical stakeholder organizations with a concise overview of their roles in SHSP implementation. They can use the ideas and strategies in the IPM to help them sustain effective existing safety efforts and advance new ones.