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MAP-21 - Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century

Home / MAP-21 / Guidance / Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) Interim Guidance

Note: This document was superseded on 3/14/2016 by: Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) Guidance. Additional information can be found in the SHSP Q&As and approval checklist.

Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) Interim Guidance

Date Issued

April 5, 2013, FHWA Office of Safety

Effective Date

October 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 continues the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) as a core Federal-aid program. This program is codified at 23 U.S.C. 148 with implementing regulations at 23 C.F.R. Part 924. To obligate HSIP funds, among other requirements, a State must have in effect a State highway safety improvement program under which the State develops, implements, and updates a Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) that identifies and analyzes highway safety problems and opportunities as described under the program. (23 U.S.C. 148(c)(1)(A)).


The purpose of this guidance is to clarify SHSP requirements under MAP-21. Specifically, it addresses the SHSP: 1) features; 2) update process; 3) evaluation; 4) approval; and 5) penalty for failure to have an updated, approved plan. Additional information regarding SHSP development, implementation and evaluation is referenced in Attachment A.

SHSP Features

The SHSP is a State's comprehensive transportation safety plan, based on safety data, developed after consultation with a broad range of safety stakeholders, and approved by the Governor of the State or a responsible State agency . (23 U.S.C. 148(a)(12)). The SHSP must demonstrate the following features:

A Consultative Approach

States must develop the SHSP in consultation with the stakeholders identified in 23 U.S.C.148(a)(12)(A). While not required, States may also consult with stakeholders not explicitly identified in 23 U.S.C. 148(a)(12)(A), depending on their transportation safety needs. Consultation should include:

The SHSP must also consider other State, regional, or local transportation and highway safety planning processes and outcomes. (23 U.S.C. 148(a)(12)(E)). The SHSP should also consider tribal planning processes and outcomes.


The SHSP is a State's comprehensive transportation safety plan. The SHSP must be consistent with 23 U.S.C. 135(g), which pertains to the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). (23 U.S.C. 148(a)(12)(H)). The State must coordinate its Highway Safety Plan (HSP), data collection, and information systems with the SHSP (as required under Highway Safety Programs, MAP-21 Section 31102). Other State transportation safety plans, such as the Commercial Vehicle Safety Plan (CVSP), the Statewide Transportation Plan, Metropolitan Transportation Plans, and local road and tribal safety plans, should be developed in coordination with the SHSP. This coordination should include, at a minimum, high-level goals, objectives and strategies that are consistent with those in the SHSP.

Data Driven Problem Identification

Under 23 U.S.C. 148(a)(12)(B), SHSPs must analyze and make effective use of State, regional, local, or tribal safety data. States should use the best available safety data to identify critical highway safety problems and safety improvement opportunities on all public roads, including non-State-owned public roads and roads on tribal land. (23 U.S.C. 148(a)(12)(D)). When determining State transportation safety problems and priorities, States should analyze crash (fatalities and serious injuries, at a minimum), roadway, and traffic data.

Consideration of Additional Safety Factors

States must also consider additional safety factors when identifying emphasis areas and strategies for their SHSP updates (23 U.S.C. 148 (d)(1)(B)). These factors are:

A Performance-Based Approach

MAP-21 establishes a performance-based Federal-aid highway program, which necessitates that States develop performance-based plans and programs. To support this approach, performance measures will be established by the U.S. Department of Transportation in accordance with 23 U.S.C. 150. For the HSIP, of which the SHSP is an integral part, these measures will be for States to assess the number and rate of serious injuries and fatalities. Under 23 U.S.C. 402, a minimum set of performance measures is also required for the Highway Safety Plan (HSP). States are required to set "targets" for these HSIP and HSP performance measures.

SHSPs have been at the forefront of a performance-based approach since they were first required under SAFETEA-LU. States commonly include measurable goals and objectives in their SHSPs, enabling them to track the status of SHSP implementation efforts and monitor progress. SHSPs should continue to support this performance-based approach by including measurable goals and objectives. The SHSP goals and objectives, which typically span multiple years, are not the same as the annual "targets" that States will establish and report on in the HSIP and HSP; however, they should be consistent with and advance the HSIP and HSP performance measures and their associated "targets."

Use of Effective Strategies and Countermeasures

The SHSP describes a program of strategies to reduce or eliminate safety hazards. (23 U.S.C. 148(a)(12)(F)). High priority should be given to those strategies that can significantly reduce roadway fatalities and serious injuries in the SHSP emphasis areas. States should implement the strategies and countermeasures that will most effectively address their roadway safety problems (see Attachment A for references regarding effective countermeasures). Systemic improvements and low-cost countermeasures should also be given consideration.

Addressing 4Es When Determining Highway Safety Strategies

The SHSP must address a variety of factors when determining strategies for the SHSP emphasis areas. (23 U.S.C. 148(a)(12)(C)). Key factors include the highway safety elements of engineering, education, enforcement, and emergency services (the 4 Es). This can apply to both infrastructure and non-infrastructure emphasis areas, as appropriate. For example, if speed is an emphasis area in a State SHSP, the State may consider a variety of "4 E" strategies to reduce or mitigate the impact of speeding. Strategies might include increasing law enforcement efforts to reduce speeding (enforcement), applying traffic calming measures such as speed humps and roundabouts (engineering), delivering public information campaigns that focus on the dangers of speeding (education), and utilizing Emergency Medical Services data to quantify the burden to the health care system and the cost to the community (emergency services).

SHSP Update

Consistent with current practice, States should update their SHSPs on a regular basis and no later than five years from the date of the previous approved version. SHSP updates must meet the requirements for a State SHSP as defined in 23 U.S.C. 148(a)(12) and meet the requirements the Secretary establishes for SHSP updates and approvals as described in , 148(d), 148(g)(2), and that will be defined further in HSIP Regulations.

MAP-21 also requires States to include in their SHSP Update:

SHSP Evaluation and Update Cycle

As part of the SHSP update process, States should establish an update and evaluation cycle (or schedule) consistent with requirements that will be established in the HSIP Regulation.

SHSP Evaluation

To obligate funds under the HSIP, as part of their highway safety improvement programs, States must evaluate their SHSPs on a regular and recurring basis as required by the Secretary to ensure the accuracy of data and priority of proposed strategies. (23 U.S.C. 148(c)(1)(C); (d)(1)). During SHSP development, States should pay particular attention to what will be measured (i.e., performance measures) and how progress will be determined. States should have in place mechanisms for regularly tracking SHSP implementation and monitoring progress.

A comprehensive evaluation should occur, at a minimum, as part of the State's SHSP update. This should include a review of SHSP implementation, including, for example, assessing whether the strategies are being implemented as planned, and reviewing the State's progress in meeting SHSP goals and objectives, such as reductions in the number and rate of crashes, fatalities and serious injuries in the SHSP's emphasis areas.

Evaluation results should be used, at a minimum, to confirm the validity of the emphasis areas and strategies and address SHSP process and performance issues that can be improved upon or incorporated in the SHSP update. For example, if an SHSP goal or objective is not met, the results may suggest a strategy is ineffective, or in some cases, the strategy may not have been implemented as planned. See Attachment A for additional evaluation resources.

Approval of SHSP Update

A State must update its SHSP in accordance with requirements established by the Secretary and seek approval of its process for updating such plan under 23 U.S.C. 148(d)(2). To fulfill these requirements, a State should submit to the FHWA Division Administrator its updated SHSP, along with a detailed description of the process it used to update the plan. (23 U.S.C. 148 (d)(2)(A)(ii)). A State may include this description as a section, chapter, or appendix in the SHSP; in the cover or transmittal letter for the SHSP; or as a standalone document. See Attachment B for samples. The State should address, at a minimum, the elements discussed in this guidance and any other requirements included in a future rulemaking.

A State's SHSP update process will be approved if: (1) the SHSP is consistent with the requirements for updates and approval under section 148(d) and the requirements for an SHSP defined in section 148(a)(12); and (2) the process the State used to update the SHSP is consistent with the requirements of section 148. (23 U.S.C. 148 (d)(2)(B)). The FHWA Division Administrator will notify the State when its updated SHSP process has been reviewed and approved. The FHWA Division Administrator may seek input from the appropriate NHTSA Regional Administrator and FMCSA Division Administrator during the approval process. The SHSP will be posted on the USDOT website. (23 U.S.C. 148(h)(3)). See Attachment C.

Penalty for Failure to Have an Approved Updated SHSP

If a State fails to have an updated SHSP with a process approved by the FHWA Division Administrator, the State will not be eligible to receive additional formula obligation limitation during the annual redistribution of one-year obligation limitation, which is referred to as "August Redistribution." See Attachment D for more information on August Redistribution. (23 U.S.C. 148(d)(3)).

To avoid the penalty, States must have an updated SHSP with an approved process by August 1 of the fiscal year beginning after the date of the establishment of the requirements under 23 U.S.C. 148 (d)(1). The penalty will remain in effect for each succeeding fiscal year until the fiscal year during which the plan has an approved process, which must be by August 1 to avoid the penalty that year.


Attachment A
SHSP References and Resources

Related Information

SHSP Development, Implementation and Evaluation

Noteworthy Practices

Training/Technical Assistance


Attachment B
Sample Format/Content for SHSP Update Description

Each State must provide a detailed description of the SHSP update process. (23 U.S.C. 148(d)(2)(A)(ii)). This description can be included as a section, chapter or appendix in the SHSP, in the cover or transmittal letter for the SHSP, or as a standalone document, and should include a description of the:

Sample Transmittal or Cover Letter for SHSP

Dear [FHWA Division Administrator]:

The [State or Commonwealth] of [State's or Commonwealth's Name] is submitting this Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP), [Title of Plan] in accordance with the requirements of 23 USC § 148(d), Highway Safety Improvement Program, Updates to Strategic Highway Safety Plans. The [Plan Name] update was accomplished through consultation with our Governor's Highway Safety Representative, regional and metropolitan planning organizations [specify], representatives of major modes of transportation [specify], state and local law enforcement [specify], the Governor's highway-rail grade crossing safety representative [specify], representatives conducting motor carrier safety programs under Section 31102, 31106, or 31309 of Title 49 [specify], motor vehicle administration agencies [specify], State representatives of non-motorized users [specify] county transportation officials [specify], and other Federal, State, tribal, and local safety stakeholders [specify]. The following describes the process that was used to update the Plan.

[This paragraph should provide a detailed description of the update process as required under §148 (d)(2)(B) and in implementing regulations. The description should demonstrate a coordinated, data driven, performance-based plan with a program of effective strategies developed with a multidisciplinary and "4E" approach. The update should reference the years covered by the plan as well as the update and evaluation schedule.]

Signature of State Official


Attachment C
USDOT Website Requirements

HTML Submissions

HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is the publishing language of the World Wide Web. Information submitted in the form of HTML files (i.e. Web pages) need to be coded to meet the industry standards for HTML and the requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. The standards for HTML are contained in the "Recommendations" of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Submitted pages can meet either the HTML 4.01 (http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/) or XHTML 1.0 (http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/) standards. The W3C has a free markup validation service (http://validator.w3.org/) which should be used to check the files. It is particularly important that any data tables in the Web pages follow the markup standards for tables. The HTML 4.01 specifications for table markup can be found at http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/struct/tables.html.

One of the requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act is that the information on Federal Government Web sites be accessible to persons with disabilities. The technical standards for Web sites can be found in § 1194.22 "Web-based intranet and internet information and applications." A guide to the standards is available on the U.S. Access Board's Web site at http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/guide/1194.22.htm. Again, it is important that the requirements for data tables be followed. Such requirements are contained in 1194.22(g) and 1194.22(h). These sections require that row and column headers of data tables are identified and that through markup, the data cells are associated with the corrected headers. There are techniques in HTML 4.01 and XHTML 1.0 to meet these requirements.


Attachment D
August Redistribution

Legislation provides for the redistribution, after August 1 of every fiscal year, of States' one-year obligation limitation that will not be used before the end of the fiscal year, and would otherwise expire at the end of the fiscal year (section 1102(d) of Public Law 112-141). Typically, obligation limitation associated with allocated contract authority is returned for redistribution. Formula obligation limitation can also be returned for redistribution, but this is uncommon. Only the obligation limitation is redistributed, not any of the contract authority that is associated with it.

The returned obligation limitation is redistributed as formula obligation limitation to States that can use it prior to the end of the fiscal year. The returned obligation limitation is redistributed proportional to the States' relative shares of unobligated balances of funds apportioned under sections 144 ( 104 of title 23, United States Code. No State, however, will be redistributed more formula obligation than it has indicated it can use prior to the end of the fiscal year.

Many States use all of their formula obligation limitation in a given fiscal year, therefore they can greatly benefit from the annual redistribution process. This is particularly true for States that have projects ready to go and can quickly obligate them using the additional formula obligation limitation. In recent fiscal years, the total obligation limitation redistributed to the States as formula obligation limitation has been in the area of $1 billion, although the amounts vary from fiscal year-to-fiscal year. The redistributed formula obligation limitation may be utilized to obligate projects under any program for which the State has unobligated balances of funding (e.g., STP, HSIP, CMAQ, etc.).

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