Highway Safety Improvement Program
MAP-21 High Risk Rural Roads Guidance
Date IssuedDecember 27, 2012, FHWA Office of Safety
Effective DateOctober 1, 2012
On July 6, 2012, the President signed into law P.L. 112-141, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). MAP-21 redefined and created a Special Rule for High Risk Rural Roads (HRRR). Prior to MAP-21, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient, Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy For Users (SAFETEA-LU) provided a $90 million annual set-aside from the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) for HRRR. MAP-21 legislation does not set aside funds for a high risk rural roads program. However, the Special Rule requires States with an increase in fatality rates on rural roads to obligate a specified amount of HSIP funds on HRRRs. The MAP-21 definition of HRRRs is important for States to consider. If the Special Rule applies, States will be required to obligate funds on those specific roadways.
Section 1112 of MAP-21 changed the definition of a "high risk rural road" in 23 USC 148(a)(1) to: "any roadway functionally classified as a rural major or minor collector or a rural local road with significant safety risks, as defined by a State in accordance with an updated State strategic highway safety plan."
MAP-21 also established a Special Rule for HRRR safety in 23 USC 148(g)(1), which states: "If the fatality rate on rural roads in a State increases over the most recent 2-year period for which data are available, that State shall be required to obligate in the next fiscal year for projects on high risk rural roads an amount equal to at least 200 percent of the amount of funds the State received for fiscal year 2009 for high risk rural roads under subsection (f) of this section, as in effect on the day before the date of enactment of the MAP-21."
This guidance addresses: A) how to interpret the new definition of HRRR in a State; B) how to determine if the Special Rule applies for a particular State; and C) how a State should carry out the provisions of the Special Rule if it applies.
A. Interpreting the new definition of a high risk rural road:
The definition of a HRRR in MAP-21 provides flexibility to States in determining their HRRRs. The definition of a HRRR is still limited to the same functional classifications as under SAFETEA-LU, rural major and minor collectors and rural local roads. However, only the roads within those functional classifications "with significant safety risks" will become the roadways designated as HRRR. The legislation requires that States define the significant safety risks of these roads in their updated State Strategic Highway Safety Plans (SHSPs).To determine what a "significant safety risk" is, States may develop their own methodologies as identified in their updated SHSPs for the specified roadway functional classifications. The FHWA will review and approve the process a State uses to define a significant safety risk per 23 USC 148(d)(2). Some examples of possible definitions for "significant safety risk" are provided below and may be used singularly or in combination.
Continue to use the SAFETEA-LU definition: roadways with a fatality rate that is higher than roadways of similar functional classifications in that State. For instance, a roadway with a fatality rate 10 percent higher than roads with a similar classification in that State. Alternatively, a State may use crash rates resulting in fatalities and serious injuries.
Use roadways with a crash frequency above a designated threshold, which eliminates the comparison calculation to other roadways.
Define high risk rural roadway characteristics that are correlated with specific severe crash types, such as cross-section width, lack of shoulders, substandard alignment, hazardous roadside, etc.
Use information gathered through means such as field reviews, safety assessments, road safety audits, and local knowledge and experience. Using information from observations in the field can identify high risk locations that may not be identified through data analysis or by identifying roadway characteristics.
In the interim, States that have not yet updated their SHSPs to comply with MAP-21 requirements should use the definition prior to MAP-21 for their HRRRs. The definition prior to MAP-21 is:
HIGH RISK RURAL ROAD.-The term "high risk rural road" means any roadway functionally classified as a rural major or minor collector or rural local road-
- on which the accident rate for fatalities and incapacitating injuries exceeds the statewide average for those functional classifications or roadway; or
- that will likely have increases in traffic volumes that are likely to create an accident rate for fatalities and incapacitating injuries that exceeds the statewide average for those functional classifications of roadway.
B. How to determine if the HRRR Special Rule applies:
MAP-21 states that the Special Rule applies to a State if "the fatality rate on rural roads in a State increases over the most recent 2-year period for which data are available." The FHWA will use the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (100 MVMT) for roads in the State classified as rural major and minor collectors and rural local roads. The FHWA will use the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data and Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) data to calculate the fatality rate.
The first year States would be required to obligate funds towards HRRRs in accordance with this Special Rule is FY 2014. For FY 2014, the most recent data available will be 2011 fatalities. Consistent with other performance measures, FHWA will use a 5-year rolling average for the fatality rate. This approach provides a balance between the stability of the data (by averaging multiple years) and providing an accurate trend of the data (by minimizing how far back in time to consider data). The chart below shows the relationship of the annual fatality rates to the fiscal year for which the Special Rule would apply. For example, the 5-year rolling average ending in 2009 is 2 years before the 5-year rolling average ending in 2011, which meets the MAP-21 requirement that this Special Rule apply if the fatality rate on rural roads in a State increases over the most recent 2-year period.
|FHWA Notifies State DOT if
Special Rule Applies
|Fiscal Year that Special
Rule would apply
|December 2012||FY 2014
Oct 1, 2013-Sept 30, 2014
|December 2013||FY 2015
Oct 1, 2014-Sept 30, 2015
|December 2014||FY 2016
Oct 1, 2015-Sept 30, 2016
This process would continue each year.
In order to prevent an extremely small increase in fatalities from triggering the rule, FHWA will round to the nearest tenth in calculating the fatality rate to determine if the Special Rule applies. For example:
The State of Lincoln's 5-year average fatality rates based on 100 MVMT on the three functional classifications of rural roads for the periods ending 2009 and 2011 increased from 2.11 to 2.13. Rounded to the nearest tenth, the fatality rates on rural roads for 2009 and 2011 would be 2.1 and 2.1, respectively. Therefore, the Special Rule would not apply to the State of Lincoln for the next fiscal year.
The State of Jefferson's 5-year average fatality rates in 100 MVMT on the three functional classifications of rural roads for the periods ending in 2009 and 2011 increased from 2.30 to 2.39. Rounded to the nearest tenth, the fatality rates on rural roads for 2009 and 2011 would be 2.3 and 2.4, respectively. Therefore the Special Rule would apply to the State of Jefferson for the next fiscal year.
C. Carrying out provisions if the special rule applies
If the Special Rule applies to a State, MAP-21 requires that the State obligate in the next fiscal year for high risk rural roads an amount at least equal to 200 percent of its FY 2009 high risk rural roads set-aside. This amount for each State if the special rule were triggered is provided starting on page 5 of this guidance.
If the Special Rule applies to a State in a particular fiscal year, the FHWA will set aside the required amount from that year's HSIP apportionment with a period of availability (obligation limit) of one year. This set-aside will have its own FMIS code.
The FHWA will provide regular updates to the Division Offices to track the progress of obligating the required amount for States where the Special Rule applies. If the Special Rule is applied to a State, the State should include information in its annual HSIP report verifying that it met the requirements of the Special Rule.
Transition from SAFETEA-LU to MAP-21
All remaining HRRR funds set aside under SAFETEA-LU will be administered under the requirements of SAFETEA-LU. If the MAP-21 HRRR Special Rule applies to a State, the HSIP funds set aside for HRRR will be administered under the requirements of MAP-21.
Table: HRRR 2009 Set-Aside Amounts and Obligation Requirements under MAP-21 Special Rule
|State||2009 HRRR set-aside funds||Funds required to be obligated in
a fiscal year for HRRR if the MAP-21
Special Rule applies
|DIST. OF COL.||$450,000||$900,000|