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FHWA Highway Safety Programs

1. Introduction

Stock art photo of a busy New York City street with cars and pedestrians in motion in an intersection with the iconic Chrysler Building in the background.
Source: Getty Images


Speeding contributes to approximately one-third of all road trauma and is a persistent driving behavior that brings harm both to the vehicle occupants as well as other more vulnerable road users. In 2018, speeding-related crashes resulted in 9,378 deaths which is a staggering 26 percent of all crash fatalities1. Speeding is often also accompanied by distracted driving and driving under the influence. For example, between midnight and 3 a.m., 68 percent of speeding drivers involved in fatal crashes had been drinking2. Some suggest that progress on the issue of speeding is limited at best.

Agencies who want to address speeding are often faced with a lack of resources in setting appropriate speeds for conditions, pushback on changing speed limits, a lack of resources for countermeasures or enforcement, and restrictions or opposition to automated enforcement.

Several recent documents have supported understanding speeding issues and offering well thought-out ways agencies can advance the state of speed management addressing enforcement, education, engineering, and cultural realities3. In addition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers a Speed Management Program course to State and local jurisdictions, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) offers a course on Speed Management through the National Highway Institute, and FHWA and the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) have a number of Speed Management resources for practitioners4.

The report provides another avenue of information for practitioners in that it summarizes eight case studies which highlight noteworthy practices from across the U.S. over a range of speed management issues.

Summary of Case Studies

This document highlights eight noteworthy speed management practices across a range of areas from advocacy to countermeasures. A brief summary of the noteworthy practices is provided in the table below.

Title Noteworthy Practice Takeaways
Strategic Speed Management Program

The City of Austin, TX identified speeding as a key factor in 24% of fatal crashes. The area population is expected to double in 30 years and vulnerable road users are overrepresented in fatal crash statistics.

  • Integrated Vision Zero
  • Developed a speed management program
  • Established key indicators and targeted achievement metrics
  • Integrated approach including enforcement
Self-Enforcing Roadways

The City of Golden, CO was faced with rebuilding a critical urban arterial where the 85th percentile speeds were 48 mph and the posted speed limit was 35 mph. They also had to address a high number of pedestrian and bicycle crashes and selected a self-enforcing roadway design which includes roundabouts and a center median.

  • Self-enforcing speeds through new design
  • Resulting lower speeds
  • Improved safety for vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists
  • Improved public spaces and positive impact on businesses
Setting Credible Speed Limits

New Hampshire DOT is working to promote "reasonable and safe" speeds for conditions and in a number of instances found that raising the existing speed limit was the appropriate solution.

  • Setting credible speed limits through alignment with roadway context
  • Working together with enforcement
  • Support for local agencies
High Visibility Enforcement

The Oro Valley Police Department created a High Visibility Enforcement program designed to target intersections that have high crash rates. The program is conducted as an educational initiative for motorists in contrast to a traditional enforcement detail.

  • Enforcement through transparency and using an "educational" initiative rather than a strict enforcement detail
  • Publishing future deployment dates through television, print, radio, and social media
  • 27% crash reduction for two urban intersections
Successful Strategies for Adoption of Safety Cameras

Adoption of safety cameras is often difficult due to legislative and public concerns. New York City used a data-driven and comprehensive approach to implement safety cameras in school zones.

  • Use of a data-driven approach demonstrated their focus on safety
  • Safety cameras were one of many solutions to address the safety of pedestrians and other road users
  • Advocacy groups played a significant role
Targeted Reporting of Speeding-Related Crashes

Arizona updated crash form coding instructions to distinguish between speeding-related violations and those more appropriately defined as impaired.

  • Focused on addressing crashes by identifying contributing factors
  • Countermeasures can be targeted to the cause of crash (speeding versus impairment) allowing better allocation of resources
  • Changing coding instructions provided consistency
Consistent Speed Limits for Vulnerable Road Users

Provides an overview of how six agencies set consistent speed limits to address vulnerable road users.

  • All agencies used a data-driven approach to setting speed limits
  • Advocacy was a successful strategy for several agencies
  • Agencies addressed safety using a comprehensive approach which included other countermeasures
  • Consistent speed limits address driver expectancy
Network Approach to Setting Speed Limits

Discusses New Zealand's network-wide approach to developing speed limits which assigns speed limits based on characteristics such as roadway type, alignment, roadside hazards, land use, etc.

  • Developed network based speed limits that were evidence-based and nationally consistent
  • Uses a measure of safety risk which can be communicated to stakeholders and the public
  • Used outreach and education


  1. Speed. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Accessed April 2020.
  2. Stop Speeding Before It Stops You. Traffic Safety Marketing. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. US Department of Transportation. Accessed April 2020.
  3. Speeding Away from Zero: Rethinking a Forgotten Traffic Safety Challenge. Governors Highway Safety Association. January 2019.
  4. Speed Management for Safety. Institute for Transportation Engineers. Accessed April 2020.