Skip to content U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway AdministrationU.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration

Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)
Planning · Environment · Real Estate

HEP Events Guidance Publications Glossary Awards Contacts

Oregon Forum

July 17, 2001


"Each statewide and metropolitan planning process shall provide for consideration of projects and strategies that will increase the safety and security of the transportation system for motorized and non-motorized users."


In 1998 Congress passed the Transportation Equity Act for the 21stCentury or TEA-21. For the first time, this legislation requires state departments of transportation (DOTs) and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) to incorporate safety and security as priority factors in their respective transportation planning processes and activities. Prior to TEA-21, safety was sometimes a prominent factor in project development and design, but this legislation calls for safety consciousness in a more comprehensive, system wide, multi-modal context. It implies collaboration with the highway safety and motor carrier safety communities, transit operators, local jurisdictions and others.

To initiate discussion on the TEA-21 safety-planning factor, approximately 40 interested professionals convened in Washington, DC in May 2000 to explore the independent planning processes and to identify data, tools, partners and other resources that are currently available or need to be developed for implementing the safety requirement.

The meeting identified several issues, as well as some areas of agreement, associated with safety integration:

The Washington meeting also identified several key steps for promoting safety integration and a Steering Committee was formed to provide guidance and follow up. One of the recommended initiatives was to encourage a series of forums at the state level bringing representatives of the various interests together to discuss strategies for sharing resources and working collaboratively. Oregon was one of six states that agreed to accept the challenge.


The Steering Committee recognized the importance of establishing goals and objectives from both the national and state perspectives to ensure the forums produced measurable results. The Oregon Planning Committee met on April 12, 2001 to discuss the Forum's purpose, agenda, logistics and participants.[1]

National Perspective

The National Steering Committee established national objectives for the forums:

Oregon Perspective

The Oregon Highway Safety Office merged with ODOT in 1991 and became the Transportation Safety Division. For systems planning purposes, Oregon Transportation Plan (OTP) is the guiding document at ODOT. A part of the implementation process called for the Division to write a 20-year Transportation Safety Action Plan (TSAP). It contains statewide program performance objectives or actions to achieve a safer transportation system. In 2000, the staff reviewed progress on implementation of the TSAP and found that 50 of the 70 action items had been accomplished. The Forum was viewed as an opportunity to review progress, identify opportunities and move forward into other initiatives.

In some respects, Oregon leads the nation in safety integration planning at least in state level planning functions. There are several factors that account for their success.

  1. The policy people are willing to entertain discussions regarding process change.
  2. The program people are willing to cross boundaries and form partnerships.
  3. There is a general willingness to be self-critical and implement course corrections.
  4. There is an agency-wide commitment to identify opportunities and improve safety.

The objectives of the Oregon Forum were articulated during the planning meeting as follows:

We will continue to get what we are getting, if all we do is what has been done before.

Troy Costales
  • Initiate a dialogue and actions that integrate the MPOs and local jurisdictions with the ODOT planning process. The Forum is an opportunity to begin the process of developing and sustaining linkage between the state and local level planners and others.
  • Identify alternative or better methods for addressing safety issues in the planning process.
  • Rally the energy and interest to identify and implement new opportunities.


The Oregon Forum was held on July 17, 2001. Approximately 30 people attended.[2] A broad cross section of the transportation planning and safety communities was represented.


Welcome and Introductions

Troy Costales, ODOT Manager of the Transportation Safety Division and Governor's Highway Safety Representative, introduced the Forum's purpose. He presented statistics to demonstrate the State's progress in the safety arena:

Integrated and managed programs aimed at correcting a specific problem are working. We all benefit from doing the right thing at the right time for the right program.

Troy Costales

  • In 1999 Oregon experienced the largest single year reduction in fatalities. Fatalities were down 124, which represents a 23% decline.
  • Vehicle deaths are at the lowest level since 1955.
  • Bicyclist deaths are the lowest in 20 years.
  • Motorcyclist deaths are the lowest since 1963.
  • Pedestrian deaths are the lowest since 1944.
  • In 2000 the trend continued.

He also enumerated and explained several safety initiatives underway that address specific countermeasure areas, such as licensing, impaired driving, occupant protection and work zones.

Roger Petzold, FHWA, reviewed the history of the State Forum process and suggested potential roles for planning agencies:

  • How do we develop planning goals and performance measures for safety processes?
  • How can data, analyses and information be more effectively shared across program lines?
  • How do we develop common measures of cost/benefits or cost-effectiveness?
  • How should safety program managers be involved in the planning process?

He challenged the audience to think about answers to questions that would help transportation and safety planners across the nation.

The introductory remarks were followed by a series of presentations providing insight into the planning processes of several agencies and programs.

Safety in Planning Overview: The Oregon Approach

Since 1997 safety has been an integral part of the Oregon Transportation Plan. Safety investments are focused first where the most people are killed and seriously injured.

Graph of Injuries by Year. Click image for text equivalant.
Figure 1: Injuries by Year Relative to Performance Goals

Countermeasures are chosen to fit the most prevalent crash types, while low-crash sections receive abbreviated design and safety treatments. The new approach has resulted in impressive safety improvements as demonstrated by Figure 1, which shows an impressive decrease in injuries per 100 million VMT. It also points out that the state has surpassed its performance goal for 1999.

Dwayne Hofstetter, an Oregon planning consultant of David Evans and Associates, Inc., outlined the general planning approach in Oregon. The straightforward process centers on six activities:

Collect and analyze data. The data used for planning is gleaned from crash data, interviews with police, fire fighters, local road Access to data is not a problem in Oregon. ODOT provides data on state roads and local agencies provide data on local roads.

Dwayne Hofstetter
  1. Review existing plans.
  2. managers and others, the public involvement process and anecdotal information.
  3. Identify needs.
  4. Determine goals and objectives.
  5. Prepare documents.
  6. Implement plans.

The planning tools include existing plans, databases, stakeholder involvement, research studies and technical expertise from FHWA, FTA, FMCSA, the Federal Rail Administration (FRA) and ODOT. Partners in safety planning are road authorities, alternative mode representatives, transportation users and the general public, schools, emergency service and enforcement providers and elected officials.

ODOT Planning Section

Overall I'm comfortable with our progress in Transportation Safety Planning in Oregon. Safety is addressed in our mission statement and there are many safety considerations included in Oregon's Transportation Plan.

Dick Reynolds
Dick Reynolds (Senior Transportation Planner, ODOT) provided a comprehensive review of the various levels of planning at ODOT, the data used to identify problems and the many avenues utilized to ensure public and stakeholder involvement. He also identified some concerns regarding integration issues. The Oregon Transportation Plan (OTP) provides the long-range vision for the state transportation system and includes a variety of safety considerations. More specific policy clarification through modal and topic plans provides additional emphasis on safety issues. One element is a Transportation Safety Action Plan that identifies the state safety agenda with a 20-year horizon, utilizes statewide motor vehicle crash data, establishes specific program level actions to implement OTP policies, focuses on operator behavior issues and identifies a wide range of implementation responsibilities.

The Safety Division reviews the plan every two years to measure performance. As noted earlier, 50 of the 70 initiatives identified in 1995 when the plan was prepared, have been accomplished. ODOT is currently reviewing the options, which include rewriting the safety section of the plan, focusing on the remaining 20 initiatives or continuing to address all 70 areas and implement continued improvements.

More detailed plans for individual state highway corridors and city and county transportation system facilities (TSPs) identify specific management and improvement projects to achieve the safety objectives. State corridor plans and TSPs provide the mechanism for identifying and selecting the best options or combination of solutions to establish a safer transportation system.


The integration of safety and planning has not been fully accomplished in Oregon; there is room for improvement. For example:

ODOT - Motor Carrier Transportation Division (MCTD)

Greg Smith (Manager, Safety Section) provided an overview of the planning and programming processes for addressing truck and bus safety in Oregon. The MCTD is integrated within the ODOT structure and, unlike many other states; the Division has flexibility in programming its resources. This is most probably because the Safety Program has a 5.7M budget, only 2.3M of which are federal funds. The Division divides resources between comprehensive safety compliance reviews conducted at motor carrier terminals and on-highway commercial vehicle and driver safety inspections. The majority of federal funds are used to fund on-highway commercial vehicle and driver inspections conducted by agents of the Department, including state, county and local police agencies.Of particular note is the Trusted Carrier Partner Program, a unique real time enforcement tracking system.

This isn't rocket science. Our job is to keep trucks operating safely. Although, we are experiencing a changing corporate culture throughout the trucking industry. Any economic downturn results in less focus on safety.

Greg Smith

The program recognizes those with exceptional compliance records and provides them with special plates. Trucks with these plates can be sent on their way in less than a second by a light system. This program not only provides incentives for compliance, it moves trucks through the traffic stream more efficiently, which improves the safety of all vehicles. In addition to traditional inspection and enforcement programs, the Division supports a number of public and truck driver awareness information programs. The continuing challenge for truck safety in Oregon is the increase in truck traffic.

ODOT - Public Transit Division

Steve Dickey, Program Manager, presented the safety challenges associated with transit operations in Oregon and provided an overview of the numerous safety and security programs in place to maintain and improve safe operation. In addition to the federal requirements,[4]the ODOT Public Transit Division requires defensive driver training courses for all new drivers and on an "as needed" basis. The Transit Division provides opportunities to receive the training free of charge and offers other incentives to encourage participation in periodic training sessions. The ODOT - Public Transit Division has a vehicle inspection program that includes verification of documented pre and post trip inspections, a 90-point vehicle inspection, a recommended maintenance practice checklist and regular onsite inspections of transit facilities every three years. They provide funding and technical assistance to develop safety training for citizens, such as the "Safe at Any Age" program for older riders developed by Ride Connection, Inc. in Portland, OR. Other safety and security training opportunities are provided for operators, especially women drivers who may operate in high risk or remote rural areas.

Passenger safety is addressed by conducting criminal background checks on all bus drivers, training for school children using transit buses[5]and training for passengers with special needs on proper ingress, egress and equipment security factors. Some buses are equipped with onboard security cameras, onboard security personnel and emergency communications equipment.


To improve the safety and security of transit operations, Dickey recommends that the state adopt the FTA's Transit Safety Best Practices policies and apply them to the local jurisdictions; an increase in driver and operator training to ensure safety awareness; evaluation and possible adoption of transit safety program in other sates, such as Florida and Ohio and creating a data system that separates crash data on buses by the type of service provided by the vehicle.

ODOT - Bicyclist and Pedestrian Facilities

Michael Ronkin, Program Manager for Technical Services, provided an overview of Oregon's principles to plan for the safe movement of pedestrians and bicyclists. Ronkin and his colleagues follow a number of principles:

Slow down traffic if you want drivers to let people cross the street.

Michael Ronkin

To identify specific problems, engineers and planners need only find areas where these principles are violated, e.g., areas where there are no sidewalks with children walking to school and intersections where there is no safe place to cross. Ronkin said that current land use patterns generally do not include easy methods for pedestrians and bicyclists to move around. He views that as the most critical issue to be addressed. The number one method for improving the safe movement of pedestrians and bicyclists is to address the speed issue. The relationship between speed and pedestrian crossing safety is paramount.

As Figure 2 shows, fifteen miles per hour can mean the difference between crash avoidance and almost certain death.


Figure 2: Pedestrians' Chance of Death if Hit by a Motor Vehicle

Bar Chart: 15% 32km/h, 20 MPH; 45% 50 km/h, 30 MPH; 85% 65 km/h, 40 MPH
Pedestrians' chances of death if hit by a motor vehicle.
Source: Killing Speed and Saving Lives, UK Department of Transportation

Oregon State Police (OHP)

According to Lieutenant Gary Miller, OSP has changed the way it does business to produce more effective and efficient traffic law enforcement. They now use data to plan enforcement strategies, they work closely with partners to identify problems and implement programs and the officers spend more time on the road and are increasing the number of contacts with motorists. The basic philosophy is, that high frequency, high visibility hazardous violation enforcement contacts generate voluntary compliance.

OSP must do more with fewer resources as is true of most police agencies in the country. Working in partnership with ODOT has allowed them to develop new programs that, once implemented, OSP continues on its own. These "leveraged" programs include: the use of motorcycle officers to address crash "hot spots;" expanding the collision reconstruction program to identify crash causation (cause analysis) for use in program planning; the training of drug recognition experts to help identify alcohol and drug impaired drivers; aircraft to enforce speed laws; and a work zone safety enforcement program.

Rogue Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization (RVMPO)

RVMPO is a somewhat rural area with low-density population. Dan Moore pointed out that RVMPO uses several planning tools: the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) safety policies[6], project evaluation criteria[7], the regional travel demand model, surveys, accident data collection and analysis and Geographic Information Systems.

Moore noted that ODOT identifies safety problems on state facilities and has some ability to identify intersections and streets that need safety improvements; however, accident data is not readily available or easily accessed off the state system.

ODOT utilizes a complex "Cost/Benefit Ratio Worksheet" for prioritizing hazard elimination projects. The RVMPO uses the work sheet for general planning purposes as well. Also, when working with crash data, they have a countermeasure analysis tool that lists approximately 80 countermeasures and provides an analysis of the estimated crash reductions for each.

Figure 3 below demonstrates the RVMPO planning process.

Figure 3: RVMPO Planning Process[8]

Flowchart of the Collaboration Process. Click image for text equivalant.

Portland Metro Planning Organization (Metro)

Tom Kloster discussed the MPO planning strategies from the perspective of a densely populated urban area. In urban areas, the emphasis on multi-modal planning becomes a high priority. The Regional Transportation Plan reflects the public's priorities and funding is distributed according to a formula portrayed in the Figure 4 graphic.

Figure 4 RTP Project Priorities

Pie Chart of 2020 Project Priorities. Click image for text equivalent.

Metro's RTP is centered on several planning factors including street design classifications, local street connectivity standards, 2040 modal targets, 2040 parking ratios, 2040-based congestion policy. The concentration on street design is due to several issues: streets link land use and transportation, there is a need to establish clear access management objectives, major streets are NIMBYs[9], the growing cost and scale of streets and the emphasis establishes modal expectations for engineers and designers.

Kloster gave an impressively detailed overview of various types of streets and roadways in the context of the level of service policies in place and the Oregon Transportation Plan. He also discussed the "Big Street Dilemma," which is that the public demands minimal congestion and delay without large streets or increased taxes and that adding capacity is an endless cycle that cannot be sustained.

Kloster proposed four principles for improving the safety design of streets:

  1. Minimize pavement width. If the lanes are too wide, motorists exceed the speed limit.
  2. Remove "suicide" lanes or those lanes in the center of the street the motorist enters to turn left.
  3. Build better medians and mid-block crossings to protect pedestrians.
  4. Promote streets over driveways to limit conflicts and promote pedestrian access and safety.

Build on public demand for safer, better streets.

Use your stamp! AASHTO guidelines areguidelines.

Don't design a street that you wouldn't live on, or allow your child or parent to walk or bike on.

Tom Kloster

Metro's primary activities for accomplishing safer streets are to make engineering improvements and the implementation of widespread public education. Kloster left the audience with three recommendations.

Breakout Group Reports

The Forum participants were divided into two groups to discuss potential applications for the information presented by the list of speakers. The results clustered around several topics:


Data and Information

Communication and Collaboration



Participants in the breakout group sessions reported that the Forum had been exceptionally informative. The general impression was that safety and partnerships receive high emphasis in Oregon and all were impressed and proud of the strong safety record in the state.. Of special note were the level of safety in transit planning and the strong support demonstrated by leadership in all organizations. However, all agreed that the status quo is not the place to be - it's just not good enough. As Costales said, "We in the safety community need to continue to grow and mature. We began with baby steps but now we're in our teenage years. We may think we know everything but that is just not the case."


The Forum produced new partnerships during the process itself. As stated previously, one of the Oregon's Forum objectives was to begin a process of collaboration with MPO and local jurisdiction safety planners. That process appears to have already begun. A short time after completing the Forum, Costales received an email from Tom Kloster, one of the speaker/participants:

"The overall "safety" theme definitely got the wheels turning in my head, and I'm thinking about how to beef up safety in our own planning. I certainly think it could be enhanced in our MTIP program, where it is already a criterion for project ranking, but we probably need to do more to address safety in the RTP itself based on what I heard at the Forum. You mentioned wanting to work more closely with the MPOs at one point. I would definitely like to follow up with you - especially on how we can use data that your division is maintaining within our region.

We're in the middle of developing performance measures that we'll be using to monitor our various regional planning activities. It would be an opportune time to incorporate some safety data that we could track."

Transportation Safety Planning

Oregon Forum

Appendix A







OR Division FMCSA



AECOM Consulting Transportation Group



ODOT Transportation Safety Division



ODOT Transportation Safety Division



ODOT Planning Section



ODOT Public Transit Division



Washington State DOT



OR Division FMCSA



Falconi Consultant Services



Rogue Valley Council of Governments



Transportation Research Board/GAIA, Inc



David Evans and Associates



Portland MPO

Lt. Gary


Oregon State Police Patrol Services Division



ODOT Traffic Engineering




Rogue Valley Council of Governments



ODOT Crash Analysis and Reporting



A&M Transport



OR Division FHWA






ODOT Planning Section



Kittelson and Associates



ODOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities






Lane Council of Governments



ODOT Motor Carrier Transportation Division



Washington State DOT

Transportation Safety Planning

Oregon Forum

Appendix B


Photo of a two-lane road

"Safety In Planning"

An Oregon Forum

July 17, 2001

Wittenberg Inn & Conference Center

5188 Wittenberg Lane

Keizer, OR 97303

8:30a to 4:00p








Troy E. Costales, ODOT Transportation Safety Div. Mgr.

Forum Focus "Safety In Planning & TEA-21"

Roger Petzold, Federal Highway Administration, DC


A collection of state and local "Safety in Planning" overviews


Workshops - Lessons learned - Application of morning session safety-in-planning tips to your world.


Have a safe trip!

[1]Attendees included representatives of the Oregon Department of Transportation [ODOT] (Transportation Safety, Planning, Motor Carrier Transportation, Transportation Development [MPO Liaison], Public Transit and Rail), the Oregon State Police, and the Alliance for Community Traffic Safety. At the national level, the Transportation Research Board (TRB), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA by phone) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also participated in the discussion.

[2]See Appendix A for a list of Forum participants.

[3]See Appendix B for a copy of the formal agenda.

[4]Federal requirements include drug and alcohol testing, commercial drivers licensing regulations and applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards.

[5]Since other vehicles don't stop for transit buses as they do for school buses, children require special training for riding transit buses safely.

[6]Moore said that improving safety is a high priority in the RVMPO.

[7]Up to 15% of the project score can be based on safety improvements.

[8]JJTC = Jackson Josephine Transportation Committee

MPOTAC = Metropolitan Planning Organization Technical Advisory Committee

RVACT = Rogue Valley Area Commission on Transportation

STIP = Statewide Transportation Improvement Program

OTC = Oregon Transportation Commission

[9]NIMBY is an acronym for Not in My Back Yard" and, in this context, points out the dilemma between the public's demand for less congestion but no large streets in their neighborhoods.

[10]It was suggested that producing an updated electronic version of the "Synthesis of Safety Research Related to Traffic Control and Roadway Elements, Vol. 1 & 2, FHWA, December 1982 would provide a valuable tool for safety planning improvements.

[11]One participant cautioned that there are often trade offs between safety and mobility; hence, this may not be a fruitful effort. However, he also agreed that a safety index would be helpful for making decisions regarding the application of ITS technologies and other initiatives.

Updated: 3/28/2012
HEP Home Planning Environment Real Estate
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000