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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

Safety Performance Management Target Setting Communication Plan and Toolkit

fhwasa18006.pdf (2.39 MB)


The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) created a performance-based Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) through the establishment of the Safety Performance Management Measures (PM) Final Rule. The Safety PM Final Rule appeared in the Federal Register on March 15, 2016, with an effective date of April 14, 2016. This Final Rule adds Part 490 to Title 23 of the Code of Federal Regulations to implement the performance management requirements in 23 U.S.C. 150.

The Safety PM Final Rule requires that State departments of transportation (DOTs) and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) establish targets for five safety performance measures. State DOTs also have the option to establish any number of urbanized area targets and one non-urbanized area target for any or all of the measures. These are the five performance measures reported annually in the State's HSIP Final Report:

  1. Number of fatalities.
  2. Rate of fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT).
  3. Number of serious injuries.
  4. Rate of serious injuries per 100 million VMT.
  5. Number of non-motorized fatalities and number of non-motorized serious injuries.

For more information related to the Safety PM Final Rule, including guidance, Q&A, target-setting and safety data resources, visit the FHWA's Safety PM Website at


The purpose of this communication plan is to assist State DOTs and MPOs in communicating why safety performance targets are being established, which stakeholders are affected (either directly or tangentially), and how they can be involved in helping establish the targets or in target achievement.

Communicating to those with a role or interest in the process or outcomes throughout all stages of the safety performance target-setting process is important and impacts audiences of varying expertise. This communication plan and associated communication toolkit items are valuable tools that can:

  • Encourage action towards meeting performance targets.
  • Provide guidance on safety target setting with wider input from more audiences.
  • Support implementation of activities that help achieve targets.
  • Share the underlying rationale with the public on how targets were established and gain their cooperation in meeting safety targets.

Communicating why safety targets are being established and how we can achieve them to such a variety of audiences will have its challenges. As States and MPOs seek stakeholder input, many groups may cite challenges that cause them to be hesitant in supporting the safety targets. Some of these challenges could include:

  • Lack of influence in how and where safety funds are expended.
  • Differences in numerical or "philosophical" safety performance targets between State and local organizations, or even internally between State DOT offices.
  • Choices (human factors) that cause fatalities no matter how safe we make the infrastructure.
  • Alignment between zero death goals (long-term) and the reality of the recent climb in fatalities (short-term) and how this affects short-term targets.
  • Volatility of scenario-based forecasting.
  • Communicating to the public that every investment, driving decision, and business practice has an outcome that either pushes us closer to or pulls us away from target achievement.

Section 1 further describes why safety performance targets are established, which stakeholders are affected, and how each can be involved in helping establish the targets or in target achievement.

This Communications Plan and Toolkit is organized into two sections:

Section 1: SAFETY PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT COMMUNICATION PLAN which describes how to use the plan and outreach items.

Section 2: SAFETY PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT COMMUNICATION TOOLKIT which describes each tool, gives instructions for use, and specifies the targeted audience and forums for use.