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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

Section 402: State Highway Safety Programs


The State Highway Safety Program, commonly referred to as Section 402, was initially authorized by the Highway Safety Act of 1966 and has been reauthorized and amended a number of times, including most recently on July 6, 2012 under the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” (MAP-21).

Section 402 supports State highway safety programs, designed to reduce traffic crashes and resulting deaths, injuries, and property damage. A State may use these grant funds only for highway safety purposes; at least 40 percent1 of these funds are to be used by or for the benefit of political subdivisions of the State to address local traffic safety problems.

The program is administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at the Federal level and by the State Highway Safety Offices (SHSO) at the State level.


Those jurisdictions defined as “States” in chapter 4 of Title 23 are eligible to receive Section 402 funds; this includes the 50 States, the District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Secretary of Interior (Bureau of Indian Affairs).

A State is eligible for State Highway Safety Program grants by having and implementing an approved Highway Safety Plan (HSP). The HSP establishes goals, performance measures, targets, strategies and projects to improve highway safety in the State. It also documents the State's efforts to coordinate the HSP, data collection and information systems with the State Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP).

Under MAP- 21, States are required to develop and implement the State highway safety program using performance measures that are data-driven. States must also agree to additional assurances (or certifications) to receive Section 402 funds including State participation in national high-visibility law enforcement mobilizations, establishment of a data-driven enforcement program and coordination of the plan required under Section 402 with the State's Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP), which is a requirement of a State's Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) (23 USC 148). Coordinating these planning processes promotes a unified State approach to highway safety.

Use of Grant Funds

To receive Section 402 grant funds, a State must have an approved HSP and provide assurances that it will implement activities in support of national goals that also reflect the primary data-related factors within the State, as identified by the State highway safety planning process. States can distribute highway safety grant funds to a wide network of sub-grantees, including local law enforcement agencies, municipalities, universities, health care organizations, and other local institutions.

States may spend 402 funds in accordance with an approved Highway Safety Plan that complies with the uniform national guidelines for highway safety programs to:

  • Reduce injuries and deaths resulting from driving in excess speeds
  • Encourage the proper use of occupant protection devices
  • Reduce injuries and deaths resulting from driving while impaired
  • Prevent accidents and reduce injuries and deaths resulting from accidents involving motor vehicles and motorcycles
  • Reduce injuries and deaths from school bus accidents
  • Reduce accidents from unsafe driving behavior
  • Improve law enforcement services in motor vehicle accident prevention, traffic supervision, and post-accident procedures
  • Improve driver performance
  • Improve pedestrian and bicycle safety
  • Improve traffic records, accident investigations, vehicle registration, operation, and inspection, and emergency services

In addition, States may spend 402 funds on teen driver programs. If they do choose to fund these programs, they must include peer-to-peer education and prevention strategies in schools and communities. Section 402 funds cannot be spent on automated traffic enforcement systems.

Implementing State Highway Safety Programs

For information on your State's Section 402 Highway Safety Program, contact your State Highway Safety Office. You can also contact the NHTSA Regional Office for your State.

Related Web Links

Additional information is available at the following web sites:

1For the Indian Nations, at least 95 percent of 402 funds are to be used by or for the benefit of political subdivisions (Indian Tribes)

Last updated: Thursday, September 9, 2021