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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

Collect and Analyze Safety Data Equitably

Data-driven safety analysis is key to the Safe System Approach, and it is an important place to begin addressing equity. Integrating demographic, public health, emergency response, and medical data into safety analyses has many benefits, including filling gaps in crash reporting and incomplete roadway element data. Because agencies rely on complete, accurate data for funding decisions, project prioritization, and countermeasure selection, equitable approaches can improve data completeness and identify high-risk sites.

In fact, equity is a proven predictive and systemic analysis practice that can support transportation agencies in focusing limited resources on countermeasures and interventions in the communities where they will make the most difference.

This bar chart shows nonmotorist K + A crashes and roadway miles for each space score from 2015 to 2019. 71% of crashes happen at 15% of road miles with a SPACE score greater than 50.
Source: MnDOT, used with permission 

Equitable approaches are most effective when data is also gathered proactively through a local, community-led process. This information may be gathered through qualitative community engagement, including walk audits, road safety audits, field safety reviews, and health impact assessments. This data is key to providing insights on disparities not captured through traditional quantitative data collection and analysis processes.

Transportation professionals should identify local underserved communities and their specific needs by:

  • Working with local public health agencies and integrating health data into transportation safety analyses
  • Disaggregating and examining local crash fatality and serious injury data by social and demographic variables regarding the person and place involved
  • Coordinating with community organizations to understand which populations face increased traffic risk, and what safety concerns affect their everyday lives

Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) Eligibility Guidance

Because advancing equity requires a systemic approach to embedding fairness in decision-making processes, Executive Order 13985 on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities through the Federal Government requires Federal agencies to recognize and work to redress inequities in the policies and programs that serve as barriers to equal opportunity. Accordingly, States should incorporate demographic information into their safety data collection and analysis procedures to ensure that the needs of underserved communities are taken into account in their State SHSPs. FHWA also encourages States to consider equity in project prioritization through the HSIP.

Next Steps

  • Consider disaggregating or layering crash, roadway volume, road characteristic and travel mode data by social and demographic data to determine if there are disparities in traffic safety outcomes, conditions, or opportunities for underserved communities. Ask:
    • “Are specific communities more likely to be killed or injured on our roadways?”
    • “Are specific communities less likely to have access to safe infrastructure and facilities?”
    • “Are specific communities less likely to have access to safe and comfortable pedestrian or bicyclist infrastructure and facilities?”
  • Then, consider using this data analysis to:
    • Guide specific outreach to communities in safety planning processes,
    • Build partnerships with non-traditional stakeholders, including public health, housing, and education agencies and non-profit organizations that provide services to communities experiencing disparities.
    • Direct funding to areas experiencing gaps in safety infrastructure, and
    • Implement timely design and construction interventions to improve opportunities for safe and comfortable mobility and access for all road users in underserved areas.

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