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FHWA Highway Safety Programs

3. Common Issues, Opportunities, and Challenges

3. Common Issues, Opportunities, and Challenges

When developing an LRSP, agencies may be confronted with challenges from lack of personnel and data to funding restrictions and/or limitations.

Resolving these issues provides an opportunity to build new alliances, collaborate with other organizations, and secure new sources of funding. Guidance related to these challenges follows.

Personnel

Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) and Tribal Technical Assistance Program (TTAP) centers, universities and other research institutions that work on transportation safety issues may also be available to provide assistance in the development of an LRSP. State DOTs and Regional MPOs or Regional Planning District Commissions may be able to assist with an LRSP. These agencies have resources or information on the development of LRSPs and about other LRSPs previously developed.

Some agencies have engaged a consultant to help create their LRSPs. A consultant may be able to bring additional expertise to the project.

Other organizations, such as AAA and local community groups, may be able to assist in the development of an LRSP as well. This may include creating a broad coalition of participants such that volunteers and other resources can be leveraged.

Funding

Limited funding is often a concern to most road agencies as they seek to implement roadway safety improvements. Agencies may also be concerned about how they will fund projects identified within an LRSP. In many cases, having an LRSP in place will increase an agency’s ability to secure funding to implement its safety strategies when competing for funding resources. An LRSP can also be useful for leveraging private funds from local businesses and corporations interested in investing in traffic safety. An LRSP can be developed using in-house staff in coordination with other agencies, thereby limiting the costs of time and financial resources spent developing the plan.

Several options for funding both the development of an LRSP and the implementation of its strategies are discussed below.

  • The State and Community Highway Safety Grant Program (Section 402) was developed to provide funding to implement initiatives targeted at improving safety. Funds are typically used for safety projects related to enforcement, education, and emergency services and are administered by each State’s DOT or highway safety office. Additional information is available at
    https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/safety/section-402-state-highway-safety-programs.
  • Federal funds within the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) may be used to develop an LRSP, as well as be used to implement the infrastructure-based improvements identified within an LRSP. HSIP funding is administered by each State’s DOT; the process to apply for funding varies by State. More information about HSIP can be found at
    https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/safety/legislative-safety-programs/hsip.
  • Contacting the State’s DOT or other county and local transportation entities may help identify other funding opportunities. An MPO or Regional Planning Organization (RPO) may be able to allocate financial assistance for developing a plan. While money may appear to be a significant hurdle to the implementation of an LRSP, funding sources are available, and having an LRSP will typically increase an agency’s ability to secure funding to implement its strategies.

Limited Data

Limited data should not inhibit the development of an LRSP. Sources of crash data include NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), the State DOT, raw law enforcement data, or the existing SHSP.

Data, such as traffic citations, hospital records, and speed monitoring, can also be used in the development of an LRSP. Other risk assessment processes, such as road safety audits or the usRAP, which provide methods to identify major safety shortcomings through a program of systematic assessment of risk as discussed in Section 2, can be used to identify safety issues for an LRSP.

In many cases, agencies use their LRSPs to develop strategies to improve their local data. By including data collection as an emphasis area within an LRSP, an agency or group of agencies can begin to assess gaps in data and develop strategies for improvement. Roadway Safety Information Analysis: A Manual for Local Rural Road Owners was developed by FHWA to provide strategies in the collection and analysis of crash and other roadway data. This document can be found at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/safety/local-rural/roadway-safety-information-analysis-manual-local-rural-road-owners.

Existing State and regional databases may also be used as a model for developing and implementing a data collection program. Data collected may include road conditions, maintenance records, weather, or other environmental factors, or any other data that may help to generate a snapshot of safety concerns. To find out if the State DOT may be able to provide this information, refer to
http://www.dottrcc.gov.