Technical Assistance Guidelines
In order to reduce roadway fatalities and serious injuries on our Nation’s road network, roadway safety professionals must routinely integrate safety in their projects and programs. In response, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) established the Office of Safety Peer-to-Peer technical assistance program as a form of technical assistance for State, local, and rural agencies to adequately address safety problems on the roads they maintain.
The purpose of the program is to provide technical assistance that helps agencies develop and implement effective roadway safety programs. Experts with the knowledge of Federal-aid safety funding programs, policy, infrastructure, design, and data volunteer to provide technical assistance to their peers. This peer network provides access to valuable guidance and information from people who share similar backgrounds and have faced the same challenges.
While assistance is available on a broad range of roadway safety topics, applicants to the program most frequently request technical assistance on challenges within (but not limited to) these topics:
Please note that technical assistance is also available from Safety Specialists in FHWA Division Offices or from the Safety and Design Team in the FHWA Resource Center. Contact the Division Office or Resource Center directly.
Any public-sector transportation agency may apply for technical assistance from the program. Requests for more intensive technical assistance (site visit, training workshop, or facilitated peer exchange) must be coordinated with the State's FHWA Division Office. Contact information for each Division Office Safety Engineer can be found on the respective Division websites.
Types of Technical Assistance
Technical assistance is generally delivered through the following mechanisms:
- Referrals to an experienced peer or technical expert for support by telephone and email.
- Onsite assistance from an experienced peer or technical expert.
- Training workshops instructed by an experienced peer or technical expert.
- Facilitated peer exchanges.
Technical assistance from a peer can be delivered via phone calls, email exchanges, web-conferences, or site visits. The level of peer technical assistance varies and is proportionate depending on the agency’s need. Requesting agencies may state their preferred delivery method when submitting the request, though not all preferences can be accommodated. A program manager in the Office of Safety will review all preferences to ensure that assistance is delivered in the most effective and efficient manner.
Training is another form of assistance provided under the technical assistance program. Training instructed by experienced peers or technical experts (e.g. FHWA Resource Center staff) can be provided to State and local road practitioners, and may be coordinated as an independent session at a hosting agency location or in conjunction with existing conferences and workshops. Training can also be delivered through train-the-trainer sessions coordinated through agencies such as Local/Tribal Transportation Technical Assistance Program (LTAP/TTAP) Centers staff, metropolitan planning organizations, and State DOT Local Programs staff. Workshop length and focus will vary as training is tailored to meet the needs of the requesting agency. Finally, training can also be delivered by web-conference or through other similar distance learning methods.
Priority approval will be granted to agencies that request training on a topic that is of mutual interest to multiple agencies across the State and/or region. Therefore, when training is provided for a requesting agency, FHWA will ask that the hosting agency also promote and make the course available to neighboring jurisdictions. Agencies requesting training will need to review and agree to a list of hosting requirements before the request can be reviewed. Hosting requirements are available from the Office of Safety technical assistance coordinator and can be found online at www.fhwa.dot.gov/safety/about-safety/local-and-rural-roads-safety-peer-peer-program. Request for training requires at least 90 days advance notice. Each training request must be coordinated with the State’s FHWA Division Office.
Facilitated Peer Exchange
Facilitated peer exchanges can be conducted onsite or by web-conference. Exchanges may be programmatic or project specific.
Peer exchanges can occur in three different formats:
- A forum or roundtable discussion allowing peer experts to share safety best practices with other practitioners seeking to initiate or expand a road safety program. An Office of Safety program manager will work with the requesting agency to coordinate this type of peer event and will assist with making travel arrangements, agenda development, and onsite meeting facilitation.
- A mini-scan can be conducted on a specific project where the designated peer hosts visiting agencies and exposes them to features or techniques adopted by the peer to improve road safety. In addition to the field review, visiting agency personnel may also have the option to shadow hosting agency personnel to gain further insight into the successful implementation of safety program operations. An Office of Safety program manager will assist with coordinating a schedule for the visit, and make travel arrangements for visiting agency personnel.
- A large-group meeting allows invited peers to present best practices, usually to the hosting agency and a broader range of invited guests. This peer exchange format generally uses breakout groups to focus on the key elements of the hosting agency’s safety challenge. The breakout groups then report their findings and recommendations to the larger meeting for examination and further discussion.
Priority approval will be granted to agencies that request a peer exchange on a topic that is of mutual interest to multiple agencies across the State and/or region. Therefore, if a peer exchange is approved for a requesting agency, FHWA will ask—when applicable—that the hosting agency also promote and make the event available to other State, local, and/or rural road agencies that would benefit.
Any public agency is eligible to apply for a peer exchange; however, it must be for the benefit of roadway safety. Requests for a peer exchange must be submitted at least 90 days in advance of the desired event date. Each request for a peer exchange must be coordinated with the State’s FHWA Division Office.
How to Obtain Technical Assistance
Agencies may request technical assistance by:
- Calling the technical assistance hotline at 866-727-FHWA.
- Filling out and submitting the online application.
Once a request for assistance is received, it will be reviewed to ensure that it meets the Program’s eligibility requirements for assistance. If the request is approved, an Office of Safety program manager will contact the requesting agency to discuss a proposed course of action and then proceed with implementing the agreed-upon assistance (see Types of Technical Assistance).
Technical Assistance Reporting & Evaluation Requirements
It is critical that the technical assistance program collects information about the effectiveness and value of the assistance it provides. To this end, the program will work collaboratively with the recipient(s) of technical assistance (the requesting agency) to obtain evaluation information after assistance has been provided. This information helps the program and the Office of Safety stay informed about technical assistance needs of its customers, trends in roadway safety, and potential gaps in types of peer assistance it provides.
Evaluation Requirements for the Requesting Agency
The technical assistance program requires the requesting agency to complete the following evaluations:
- Technical Assistance Report (for all forms of technical assistance): The agency is required to submit the Technical Assistance Reportno later than 10 business days after the technical assistance is provided. This evaluation solicits feedback from the State about the overall effectiveness and usefulness of the peer exchange. It also asks for feedback on the process and mechanics of holding a peer exchange (i.e. what worked well and what could be improved). The Office of Safety will collect this information either by email or a through phone conversation with the applicant. The feedback will be contained to one or two questions and is intended not to impinge on the applicant’s time.
- Follow-Up (for peer-to-peer exchanges only): Six months after the assistance has been provided, the Office of Safety technical assistance coordinator will contact the requesting agency to determine the level of progress. The coordinator will document actions that the agency has taken and note benefits that the agency has recognized as a result of the assistance. This report must be submitted within 10 business days.
Reporting Requirements for the Assigned Peer
The program also requests feedback from the peer or peers who provided the technical assistance. For larger events there are resources to assist with the reporting requirements.
- When assistance is provided by telephone only, a brief email summary from the assigned peer to the Office of Safety technical assistance coordinator detailing the guidance provided is sufficient.
- For assistance provided through email exchanges and web conferences, the materials exchanged can be submitted to the Office of Safety technical assistance coordinator in lieu of a formal report.
- When assistance includes an onsite visit, a brief report using a template provided by the coordinator is due within 10 business days (for larger events the Office of Safety will assist with reporting requirements).
- When assistance is delivered through a peer exchange, the Technical Assistance Report is due within 10 business days (for larger events the Office of Safety will assist with reporting requirements).
Technical Assistance Q & A
Assistance is available on other roadway safety topics as well. Contact the technical assistance program at 866-727-FHWA to discuss your need. Technical assistance is also available directly from FHWA Safety Specialists in FHWA Division Offices or from the Safety and Design Team in the FHWA Resource Center.
How Can Transportation Agencies Benefit from the Technical Assistance?
Technical assistance provides access to valuable guidance and information as well as input from people who share a similar background and have faced the same challenges. The list of benefits is long, but here are just a few that you can expect.
- Free and convenient access to professionals with roadway safety experience.
- Expert assistance to identify State and local road safety issues and recommend solutions.
- Increased understanding of how to improve safety on State and local roads.
- Guidance on implementing technical assistance recommendations.
How is Technical Assistance Delivered?
Peer assistance can be facilitated via phone calls, email exchanges, general instruction, or site visits—all depending on your agency’s needs. The Program delivers technical assistance through the following mechanisms:
- Referrals to an experienced peer or technical expert for support by telephone and email.
- Assistance from an experienced peer or technical expert (on-site, webinar-based, or video conferencing).
- Training workshops instructed by an experienced peer or technical expert (on-site, webinar-based, or video conferencing).
- Facilitated peer exchanges. (Agencies seeking a peer exchange should read the peer exchange guidelines to obtain information about their responsibilities in organizing the event.)