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FHWA Highway Safety Programs

Chapter 5 – SHSP Implementation and Evaluation


The development of the SHSP is the first stage of the SHSP cycle and creates the foundation for the SHSP process. However, the SHSP can only become a dynamic process if steps are taken to implement and evaluate the plan on an ongoing basis. SHSP leadership and key staff are encouraged to review not only this Champion’s Guidebook, but also the SHSP Implementation Process Model (IPM) and Evaluation Process Model (EPM) before and during all stages of the SHSP effort. Knowing what needs to be accomplished to successfully implement the SHSP and to evaluate its effectiveness can pay substantial dividends.

SHSP Implementation

There are several key steps to successful SHSP implementation. These include creating emphasis area teams and action plans, integrating the SHSP with existing transportation safety plans, and marketing the plan. These are covered in detail in the SHSP IPM, but a brief description is provided below.

Emphasis Area Action Plans

SHSP emphasis area action plans provide a road map to give stakeholders and partners direction. While emphasis areas may be defined differently, they should be supported by action plans that provide specifics such as measurable objectives, performance measures, strategies, action steps, tracking measures for action steps, and funding sources. Action plans turn SHSP concepts and ideas into reality.

Action plans eliminate guesswork, prevent shot gun approaches, and focus resources where most needed. They create a link between the goals and objectives of the SHSP and the prioritization and selection of projects within existing transportation planning and programming activities (e.g.HSPs, HSIPs, CVSPs, S/TIPs, etc.). SHSP action plans can be posted on the Internet to promote transparency and offer opportunities for additional stakeholders to participate in or support SHSP implementation.

The first step in developing an emphasis area action plan is to establish an action planning framework. To develop the framework:

  • Review the goals for the SHSP and for the emphasis areas;
  • Document the measurable objectives and performance measures for each emphasis area;
  • Determine the data requirements for each performance measure;
  • Identify the required resources and action steps for implementing each countermeasure;
  • Identify a process to track countermeasure and action step implementation; and
  • Regularly monitor the extent to which emphasis area goals and objectives are being met.

The SHSP does not provide funding for specific programs and activities, but identifying potential resources as part of the action plan helps managers allocate resources more effectively when project selection occurs. Types of resources typically required include: partners whose cooperation and coordination is required; funding source(s); personnel; data and information; equipment and materials, and; training.

Action plans are living documents and should be revisited and amended as necessary. Teams can add, remove, or revise strategies and countermeasures over time so the action plan remains relevant. For instance, dramatic changes in data may warrant a fresh look at all SHSP elements, including action plans. States may consider developing a process or format for adding, deleting, or amending emphasis areas, strategies, or countermeasures to ensure the partners are in agreement with how the plan is modified in the future. This avoids loss of momentum while waiting for the next SHSP update cycle. Figure 1 provides an example template for developing an emphasis area action plan.

Figure 1. Emphasis Area Action Plan Template


Figure 1 - Template - This figure illustrates a sample action planning matrix.

Source: Cambridge Systematics, Inc.

Integrating the SHSP with Other Programs and Plans

Effective SHSPs leverage the resources of existing transportation planning and programming activities to reduce fatalities and serious injuries. Integrating the State’s SHSP safety goals and efforts into statewide and metropolitan plans and programs advances the safety agenda because these plans and programs reflect statewide priorities, provide a blueprint for action for key agencies, and influence resource distribution. Safety professionals should participate in planning activities such as working groups, task forces, and advisory committees that are convened for the various State and local plans. Active involvement in this area can strengthen the partnership between planners and safety professionals and provide access to decision-makers and resources beyond the traditional limited safety funding sources.

One of the programs where integration of the SHSP is most evident is the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP). The purpose of the HSIP is to achieve a significant reduction in the occurrence of and the potential for fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads. This is accomplished through a data-driven program consisting of planning, implementation, and evaluation components. The strong tie between HSIP and SHSP is the HSIP requirement that States develop, implement, evaluate, and update an SHSPHSIP projects (defined as strategies, activities, or projects on a public road) also are required to be consistent with the SHSP.

Brief descriptions of SHSP integration into other transportation plans and programs are provided below.

  • Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) – LRTPs identify transportation goals, objectives, needs, and performance measures over a 20-year horizon and provide policy and strategy recommendations for accommodating those needs. SHSP goals and priorities should be adopted into the LRTP and MPO long-range plan, or at a minimum reflected in the transportation planning process based on safety data and analysis. Incorporating the SHSP into the LRTP impacts the degree to which the SHSP is implemented because projects that are later prioritized and programmed in the the Statewide and Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program are connected to the LRTP goals, objectives, and strategies. Project prioritization weighting or ranking schemes also should address safety considerations.
  • Statewide and Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (S/TIP) – S/TIPs, developed at the State and MPO levels, are resource-constrained capital programming documents. They identify projects and funding reflecting the State’s prioritized mobility, operational, and safety needs. Therefore, they should reflect the emphasis areas and strategies in the SHSP.
  • Highway Safety Plan (HSP) – HSPs address behavioral safety areas, such as occupant protection (safety belts, child safety seats, motorcycle and bicycle helmets), impaired driving, police traffic services, emergency medical services, motorcycle safety, and other program areas. The HSP is an annual plan identifying program activities supported by Federal funds targeting identified behavioral safety problems. These activities typically support traffic safety law enforcement, media and public education, prosecution and adjudication, training, and other actions designed to reduce crash-related injuries and fatalities. States are required to coordinate their highway safety plan, data collection, and information systems with the SHSP. While the emphasis areas, goals, and objectives of the SHSP and HSP may not be identical, they are based on consistent data and should jointly support and help achieve progress in the State’s safety priority areas and performance measures. When emphasis areas do align, strategies selected in the HSP should be consistent with those in the SHSP, which are identified through analysis of the same data and a review of evidence-based strategies and countermeasures.
  • Commercial Vehicle Safety Plan (CVSP) – The CVSP is a performance-based annual plan that outlines a State’s commercial motor vehicle (CMV) safety objectives, strategies, activities, and performance measures. The CVSP aims to improve motor carrier, CMV, and driver safety and to reduce the number and severity of crashes and fatalities resulting from such crashes involving a CMV (e.g., motor coach/bus, semi truck, trailer, etc.) through consistent, uniform, and effective CMV safety programs. For example, performance objectives and related strategies in a CVSP may be to decrease the number of bus crashes to less than the five-year average by increasing the number of passenger-carrying vehicle inspections during that fiscal year. States must coordinate the CVSP, data collection, and information systems with State highway safety programs (49 U.S.C. 350.201). The SHSP should influence the development of the CVSP mission and goal statements, the identification of CMV safety problems, and the development of State-specific objectives, strategies, and activities. Likewise, the SHSP should complement the CVSP.
  • Other Plans within the State – Other plans within a State, such as Pedestrian Safety Action Plans, Bicycle Safety Action Plans, Freight Plans, etc., also support the statewide safety effort. In some States, local agencies and organizations are also developing Local Road Safety Plans (LRSP). These plans represent a variety of agencies, organizations, both public and private that have an interest in safety. The SHSP should provide input into these plans. Similarly, these plans can inform the SHSP process and help identify specific safety issues.

Figure 2 illustrates the relationships among these transportation planning and programming processes and how the various safety planning processes interact with them.

Figure 2. Coordinated Transportation Safety Planning


Figure 2 - Diagram - This figure shows how the Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) is connected to other major transportation planning efforts.

Source: Federal Highway Administration.


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.

SHSP Evaluation

States are required to evaluate their SHSP on a regular basis (23 U.S.C. 148(c)(1)(C)) to ensure the accuracy of the data and priority of proposed strategies. In addition to this requirement, evaluation is essential to any strategic planning process. Evaluation enables States to maintain an SHSP process that is open to continuous examination, change, and improvement. It includes establishing continual monitoring and feedback to track progress and communicate results.

Tracking and Monitoring

An evaluation process or framework should be developed early so that appropriate data are collected for tracking and monitoring SHSP implementation and progress in meeting goals and objectives. States should incorporate a feedback loop into the process to ensure: 1) leadership and stakeholders are informed; and 2) information is regularly used to make course corrections as implementation takes place.

Program Evaluation and the SHSP Evaluation Process Model

In addition to the continual monitoring that occurs during SHSP implementation, a structured SHSP program evaluation provides SHSP managers and practitioners with important information about their SHSP at a specific point in time. Program evaluation is a high-level examination of a State’s SHSP. It helps States examine how they develop, manage, and implement their SHSP and identifies if the goals and objectives are being met.

The SHSP Evaluation Process Model (EPM) was developed to assist States with conducting a program evaluation of their SHSPSHSP program evaluation is composed of two equally important components – process evaluation and performance evaluation. Process evaluation assesses the procedural, administrative, and managerial aspects of the SHSP (such as leadership, SHSP structure, partners, collaboration, and communication, etc.). Performance evaluation examines the outputs and outcomes resulting from SHSP implementation.

The specific timing of SHSP evaluation is determined by the State, but must take into consideration Federal requirements as well as the needs and circumstances of the State. Some likely times are:

  • Before or as part of an SHSP revision or update, to base update on solid evaluation results;
  • After several years of implementation to gauge progress; or
  • In response to a leadership request on the status and impact of SHSP.

Please refer to the EPM for more information about SHSP program evaluation.


Following the recommended steps in the checklist below will help with SHSP implementation and evaluation efforts.

❑ Develop emphasis area actions plans that:

  • Document the measurable objectives and performance measures for each emphasis area;
  • Determine the data requirements for each performance measure;
  • Identify the required resources and action steps for implementing each countermeasure;
  • Identify a process to track countermeasure and action step implementation; and
  • Regularly monitor the extent to which emphasis area goals and objectives are being met.

❑ Integrate the SHSP with other transportation safety plans.

❑ Market the SHSP through branding, news events, web sites, newsletters, etc.

❑ Monitor and track regularly the extent to which emphasis area strategies are being implemented.

❑ Monitor and track regularly the extent to which emphasis area goals and objectives are being met.

❑ Plan a comprehensive SHSP program evaluation to examine the SHSP’s process and performance.