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Texas Forum

July 11-12, 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 21st Century 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 experienced 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. Texas was one of six states that agreed to accept the challenge.


The National 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 Texas Planning Committee met on March 3, 2001 to discuss the forum's purpose, agenda, logistics and participants. Attendees included representatives of the Texas Department of Transportation (Planning and Operations), the Federal Highway Administration (Federal and Texas Division) and TRB.

National Perspective

The Steering Committee established national objectives for the forums:

  1. Assist state and local entities with the implementation of the TEA-21 safety in planning requirement.
  2. Facilitate introductions and discussions among the key players.
  3. Determine the role of safety and its integration with the traditional planning targets, e.g. congestion, land management and environmental protection.
  4. Assist at all levels in meeting safety goals by providing technical expertise and information, identifying resources, etc.
  5. Identify the institutional, resource and other challenges that must be overcome to achieve safety integration.
  6. Identify realistic strategies and facilitate the development of action plans.
  7. Build a process to assist state DOTs and MPOs with safety integration activities.

Texas Perspective

The objectives articulated by TxDOT were as follows:

  1. Raise awareness among the MPOs about the safety integration planning factor.
  2. Identify MPO safety integration activities and prepare a manual for the forum.[1]
  3. Increase integration at the local level by inviting the key players to attend as teams.[2]
  4. Explore methods for connecting land use planning and safety at all levels, look for areas not being addressed and explore new opportunities for increasing integration at the state level.
  5. Increase access to information.[3]



The Texas Forum was held on July 11-12, 2001. Nearly 50 people attended.[4]


Welcome and Introductions

Jim Randall, Deputy Director of the Transportation Planning and Programming Division, TxDOT, opened the forum and welcomed the participants. Following his opening remarks, Roger Petzold, FHWA, reviewed the history of the state forum process and suggested potential roles for planning agencies:

He also 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 presentations providing insight into the planning processes of TxDOT, the North Central Texas Council of Governments[6] (NCTCOG) and TxDOT's Highway Safety Division.[7]

Safety in Planning Overview

Both the TxDOT[8] and NCTCOG[9] representatives focused primarily on the MPO planning process with attention to how the activity fits within the overall TxDOT planning operations. They reviewed the legislative history that involved the MPOs in the transportation planning process, MPO functions related to safety in planning, the TEA-21 planning factors and the various plans the MPOs are required to create. The plans and their interrelationships are shown in Table 1.

The planning tools include existing plans, databases, stakeholder involvement, research studies, and technical expertise from FHWA, FTA and TxDOT. Partners in safety planning are road authorities, alternative mode representatives, transportation users and the general public, schools, emergency services and enforcement providers and elected officials.

Table 1: TxDOT and MPO Transportation Planning Cycles

Table 1: TxDOT and MPO Transportation Planning Cycles
ANNUAL WORK ACTIVITIES Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) Unified Transportation Program
UPDATED EVERY TWO YEARS Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP)
UPDATED EVERY FIVE YEARS[10] Long-Range Metropolitan Transportation Plan Long-Range Statewide Transportation Plan

We need to put a face on the safety issue. If the public truly understood the number of crashes, injuries and fatalities, they would be outraged.

Michael Morris

The NCTCOG Strategic Plan for 1999 - 2003 includes a transportation-monitoring program that mandates an annual monitoring report. The monitored elements are:

  • Safety performance data.
  • Aviation capacity.
  • Population, employment and vehicle miles of travel growth.
  • NCTOG quality of life, mobility, reliability and air quality indices.
  • Customer satisfaction and citizen surveys.
  • Innovative transportation technology from research and development to implementation.

Michael Morris also suggested a set of action-oriented indicators of success that could be used to

Why aren't we moving ahead on safety? We don't have the data.

Michael Morris

  • Produce safety rankings, including a ranking of "unsafe" on segments, nodes and other features, such as railroad crossings.
  • Revise MPO and TxDOT selection criteria using the new safety system.
  • Determine factors causing "unsafe" facilities and aggressively correct unsafe conditions.
  • Report safety conditions annually and report action steps on all unsafe facilities.

measure progress and performance.

Bill Strawn of TxDOT's Highway Safety Division pointed out that their efforts focus primarily on driver behavior, but approximately 4.5 percent of the highway safety funds are devoted to work zone and walkability programs. However, according to Strawn, the number one cause of accidents is driver inattention and this is primarily due to a lack of driver training.

The Highway Safety Division is involved in data system improvements, including the conversion of milepost systems to GPS and training law enforcement on accurate accident reporting techniques. Associated efforts include the public health initiative to develop a trauma registry that will track motor vehicle accident victims through hospital care.

Breakout Group Reports

Much of the time during the Texas Forum was devoted to working in small groups to identify action steps for improving safety conscious planning. The Texas Planning Committee identified a set of issues to focus the breakout groups and a set of questions to guide the discussions.


  1. Planning and Funding Process: sources of funding, decision-makers on safety projects, establishing proactive processes for safety integration
  2. A process for establishing safety goals
  3. Data: sources, sharing, analysis and liability issues
  4. Public Outreach: involve the general public in decisions and promote information sharing


  1. What action steps can we take to more fully integrate safety into the planning process?
  2. Who stands to benefit if we take these steps?
  3. What are the resource requirements associated with implementation of the action steps?
  4. What might prevent us from accomplishing the objective?


The forum participants divided into three groups to discuss the four issues raised by the planning committee. They were asked to prioritize the issues according to their individual interests and perspectives and answer the questions posed with respect to each of their priority issues. The following section outlines the action steps proposed by the breakout groups.

Planning and Funding Process

Action Steps
Resource Requirements

Safety Goals[11]

Action Steps
Resource Requirements


How do the Texas MPOs integrate safety into the planning process?

  1. Examine crash data.
  2. Assign weights to the data.
  3. Plug data into a formula along with other criteria, e.g., mobility, etc.
  4. Use the formula in the project selection process.

Breakout Group Report

Action Steps
  • Develop a network of the forum participants and continue to communicate and further refine the action plan.
  • Establish and institutionalize a safety management system that includes planners from all safety and planning entities.[12]
Resource Requirements

Public Outreach

Action Steps
Benefits and Opportunities


Participants in the Texas Safety Forum were straightforward when asked to articulate their basic needs to achieve safety integration:

  1. Improved safety data.
  2. A safety management system.
  3. Standard project selection criteria.
  4. Dedicated funding.
  5. A mandate.
  6. Multi-year data reported in a uniform format.
  7. Public support.
  8. A process for networking and information sharing.

Next Steps

The Forum leadership committed to pursue a number of initiatives to ensure that action takes place on some level with regard to a number of priorities.

Appendix A


Attendee Agency E-Mail
Javier Avila El Paso MPO
Joe Barnard TxDOT MCD
David Bartz FHWA TX Division
John Bendele TxDOT TPP (S)
Jose Campos FHWA Austin
Monty Chamberlain TxDOT MCD
Marueen Daniel Campo
Gabriel Del Bosque Laredo MPO
Mary DeLeon TxDOT TPP (S)
Mike Dutton Campo
Rachel Everidge Campo
Chris Evilia Waco MPO
Roy Gilyard El Paso MPO
William Harvey TxDOT Amarillo
Susan Herbel TRB
Joe Holland TxDOT Austin
Orlando Jamandre TxDOT TPP (S)
Jerry Jones FHWA Fort Worth
Tim Juarez TxDOT TPP
Ed Kabobel, Jr. TxDOT Waco
Joann Kirkland TxDOT TRF
Mike Leary FHWA TX Division
Jack Lord TxDOT ELP
Jacqueline Magill TxDOT Austin
Fred Marquez TxDOT TPP
Harold McDaniel Amarillo MPO
Hugh McNeely Waco MPO
Joseph Michael TxDOT TPP(S)
Ted Mitler FHWA TX Division
Meg Moore TxDOT TRF
Michael Morris NCTCOG DFW MPO
Cindy Mueller TxDOT PTN
Medissa Neeley TxDOT ENV
Rick Pain TRB
Jenny Peterman TxDOT Austin
Roger Petzold FHWA Washington, DC
Judy Ramsey TxDOT ELP jramsey
Irene Rico FHWA TX Division
Bill Riley TxDOT Fort Worth
Mayela Sosa FHWA TX Division
Bill Strawn TxDOT TRF
Tracy Tellman TxDOT Amarillo
Charles Tucker TxDOT Dallas
Wilda Won TxDOT TPP (M)
Shelly Zarp TxDOT Austin

Appendix B


July 11 (1:00 PM-5:00 PM) July 12 (8:00 AM-12:00 PM)

Red Lion Hotel


  1. Forum Purpose and Overview
    1. TxDOT
    2. FHWA
  2. Overview of the Planning Processes
    1. TxDOT
    2. Dallas MPO
    3. Highway Safety
  3. Breakout Groups
    1. Responsibilities
      • Identify and Build on Best Practices
      • Develop Action Steps for Forum Follow-Up
      • Identify Barriers and Challenges
      • Identify Resource Requirements
      • Data
      • Planning and Funding Process
      • Public Outreach
      • Integrating Pedestrian, Bicycle, Motor Carrier and Other Issue Areas
      • Establishing Safety Goals
  4. Reports and Recommendations from the Breakout Groups
  5. Determining Leadership, Follow-Up and Other Actions
  6. Adjourn

[1]The TxDOT Planning group planned to distribute a survey to the MPOs to identify good practices and share the information during the state forum. The survey addressed the planning factors that are taken into account for making safety integration decisions. For example, TX uses formulas developed by TTI for distributing hazard elimination and rail grade crossing funds. The idea is to learn what "formulas" are used to integrate safety. TRB and FHWA prepared a draft survey for their use. The results had not been tabulated by the date for the forum.

[2]The teams were planned to include representatives of the District and MPO planning departments, the transit authority, motor carrier safety, enforcement and safe communities. However the MPO teams at the forum were not fully representative of the targeted groups.

[3]The Department of Public Safety and TxDOT had recently signed an agreement to hire a project director to distribute RFPs for software and hardware development to upgrade data systems at the local level.

[4]See Appendix A for a forum participants' list.

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

[6]This organization serves as the MPO for the Dallas area.

[7]Bill Strawn, Highway Safety Division, TxDOT

[8]Tim Juarez, Metropolitan Planning Supervisor, TxDOT

[9]Michael Morris, Director of Transportation, NCTCOG

[10]These are updates to the 20-year horizon plans.

[11]One group suggested a comprehensive safety goal: "All system users arrive at their destinations free from personal harm or property damage."

[12]This suggestion was brought up throughout the forum in various groups and discussions. The participants suggested that a scan be conducted on other states' experiences with safety management systems and a TX process be created based on successful results in other jurisdictions.

[13]A part of the discussion focused on desirable data elements to examine with respect to crash data: location, severity, road conditions, etc.; however, there was general agreement that the larger issues center on consistency of reporting standards and the ability to identify high accident locations.

Updated: 10/19/2011
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