USA Banner

Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

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

Executive Summary

Speeding, defined as traveling too fast for conditions or in excess of the posted speed limits, contributes to nearly one-third of all roadway fatalities, and this proportion has remained largely unchanged for the past decade. Practitioners and communities working to reduce speeding-related crashes need the latest information and tools to guide their efforts. Since roadway departure, intersection, and pedestrian and bicycle crashes have been identified by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as the three areas with great potential to reduce fatalities, States are encouraged to integrate speed management into these three safety focus areas. In order to assist agencies with integrating speed management into their policies, practices, and safety plans, this report presents information on national speeding-related crash trends, promotes a speed-related crash data analysis approach, and recommends strategies and initiatives for integrating speed management into both an agency's overall policies as well as its roadway departure, intersection, and pedestrian and bicyclist safety programs.

This project's objectives were as follows:

  • Investigate current practices of speed management at State and local levels within roadway departure, intersection, and pedestrian safety focus programs;
  • Conduct an analysis of national crash data to identify speeding-related safety issues within the three safety focus programs;
  • Identify gaps and needs for effectively managing speed to improve roadway departure, intersection, and pedestrian and bicyclist safety; and
  • Develop strategies, approaches, and activities agencies can use to integrate speed management within roadway departure, intersection, and pedestrian and bicyclist safety activities.

There is a wide variety of policies, practices, and procedures regarding speed management across the United States. Some States have their own manual of uniform traffic control devices, traffic studies manuals, guidelines, or other policies and procedures regarding speed management. Others do not have jurisdiction-specific speed management policies or guidance available to their practitioners. Many State and local agencies lack documentation regarding the methods or procedures to identify speeding-related crash problems within the roadway departure, intersection, and pedestrian safety focus areas. With regard to Strategic Highway Safety Plans (SHSP), all States reference speeding in their plans, although mostly in the context of enforcement and aggressive driving. Several States list roadway departure, intersections, and pedestrian safety as emphasis areas, but most of those States do not include a specific mention of speeding as a factor contributing to crashes, nor do they identify speeding-related countermeasures. Therefore, there are opportunities for agencies to enhance their speed management programs, whether by improving their policies on setting speed limits, defining their speeding-related data analysis process, or incorporating more speed management techniques or countermeasures within their safety action plans.

Agencies are encouraged to take a broad look at their policies and programs related to speed to identify opportunities on how speed management can be more fully integrated by considering the following program-level strategies:

  • Establish or enhance policies, safety plans, and performance measures,
  • Educate and improve awareness,
  • Collaborate with stakeholders, and
  • Establish data analysis process for analyzing speeding-related data.

In addition to program-level strategies, roadway departure, intersections, and pedestrian and bicyclist focus areas are a vital link in managing speed and targeting speeding-related crashes. By reviewing the results of this research project's crash analysis report,1 investigating the state of the practice, and conducting interviews with national experts, researchers have been able to identify key issues relating to speeding-related crashes in each focus area and present potential strategies to assist agencies in addressing speeding-related crashes within those focus areas.

Overall, speeding is a complex problem involving the interaction of many factors such as public attitudes, vehicle performance, roadway design, posted speed limits, and enforcement strategies, to name a few. For a State or local agency to manage speed successfully, it must integrate and coordinate engineering, enforcement, and education efforts. This requires numerous techniques and cooperation among multiple groups to effectively accomplish the goal of reducing speeding-related fatalities and injuries. State and local agencies must integrate speed management strategies within their organization, policies, and each of the three focus areas in order to meet their safety goals.

1 See Appendix A, Evaluation of the Role of Speeding in Crashes and Safety-critical Events. [ Return to   . ]