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FHWA Highway Safety Programs

Chapter 4 – SHSP Preparation


The SHSP should clearly and concisely describe the State’s safety problem and describe a program of priorities and strategies to reduce fatalities and serious injuries on all roadways in the State. While the State DOT is ultimately responsible for the development, implementation, and evaluation of the SHSP, the safety partners should agree with the plan and its components. In addition, as part of FHWA’s oversight and stewardship responsibilities, FHWA Division Administrators will verify that the State has followed a process that is consistent with SHSP requirements. The Governor or a responsible State agency must provide approval and sign the final SHSP (23 U.S.C. 148(a)(12)(G)).

SHSP Format

The format of the SHSP should be discussed among the safety partners and the final format should be broadly supported among them. Some States have found it beneficial to structure the SHSP so that frequently updated sections, such as Emphasis Area Action Plans, are kept separate from the main document. During development, a review process should be established so appropriate parties have the opportunity to review and edit the SHSP and approve the final version. To monitor progress, a person (or persons) should be assigned the responsibility to prepare the SHSP or SHSP sections. A recommended SHSP format is outlined below:

  • Table of Contents.
  • Executive Summary: This section summarizes or provides a snapshot of the contents of the SHSP. It may highlight significant achievements, the mission, vision, and goal of the SHSP, the emphasis areas, etc.
  • Mission, Vision, and Goal Statements: This section highlights the mission, vision, and goal of the SHSP. These are usually high-level statements that capture the safety values and aspirations of the State.
  • Safety Partners: This section lists and thanks all of the safety partners involved in the SHSP effort. It is an opportunity to highlight the collaborative nature of the SHSP and acknowledge the work of all involved.
  • Introduction and Background: This section summarizes past accomplishments, challenges, and ongoing SHSP efforts as well as highlights directions for the future.
  • Development Methods or Approach: Legislation requires a detailed description of the SHSP update process. States can include a section in their SHSP that provides this description, such as the data analysis and problem identification methods used, as well as other considerations incorporated into the update.
  • Emphasis Areas: This section describes the States priority safety problems that will be addressed. Each emphasis area should contain:
    • Goals;
    • Performance Measures;
    • Measurable Objectives; and
    • Strategies and Countermeasures.
  • SHSP Implementation: This section describes and documents the State’s implementation approach (strategies and processes).
  • SHSP Evaluation: This section describes and documents the State’s monitoring and evaluation methods.
  • Emphasis Area Action Plans: These action plans identify specific action steps for each countermeasure, responsible agency or agencies, timelines, etc. They may be included as appendices, a separate chapter, or prepared separately from the SHSP document. Some States have separated the emphasis area action plans from the master SHSP document to facilitate modifications. See Chapter 5 for more details on developing emphasis area action plans.

SHSPs are dynamic plans and the emphasis areas goals, strategies, and countermeasures are adjusted based on monitoring, course corrections, and the achievement of performance goals. Because of its dynamic nature, the SHSP should be written in a format that facilitates updating. A process must be established to develop, implement, and update the SHSP regularly and according to regulatory requirements (23 CFR 924; MAP-21 requires the Regulation to be updated by 2013).


Following the recommended steps in the checklist below will help with the preparation of the SHSP document.

❑ Designate a person (or persons) to prepare the SHSP or SHSP sections.

❑ Gain consensus on the SHSP format (such as the contents, chapters, etc.).

❑ Develop an SHSP format that is conducive to updates. Establish a process for review and approval of the draft SHSP and SHSP process by the appropriate parties (e.g.FHWA) and to incorporate feedback into the final version.

❑ Obtain approval and signature by the Governor or designee.

❑ Establish a process and schedule to facilitate future updates.