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Transportation Safety Planning:

The Next Generation of Transportation System Safety Strategies

stop sign

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


We have a long list of objectives to accomplish to reach our safety goals, and the Michigan SCP Forum helped us move in the right direction by heightening awareness and increasing effective communication, collaboration and coordination among all the partners

Betty Mercer,
Michigan Governor's Representative for
Highway Safety

"Safety is often listed as a priority but rarely receives the attention it deserves. It should be scientifically, seriously and significantly integrated into all transportation plans and projects."

Jill Hochman, FHWA

What Is Transportation Safety Planning?

For the first time, state and local departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) are required by law to consider safety as a planning factor.

drawing: overhead view of a hithway interchangeThis raises the question: What is safety conscious planning (TSP)? It is a proactive approach for the prevention of motor vehicle crashes and unsafe transportation conditions. SCP is achieved when:

  1. All planning organizations routinely consider safety as an explicit planning priority that is integrated into all elements of project development and selection.
  2. All planning organizations (public and private sector) have:
    • Practitioners trained in state-of-the-art safety techniques; and
    • Access to state-of-the-art safety planning tools.
  3. Decision-makers are informed about the quantitative safety implications of all planning decisions, and they are reflected in decision-making.

A Progress Report

Tools and Resources

Future Strategies


A series of statewide SCP Forums have been and continue to be conducted across the nation. The purpose of the forums is to facilitate a dialogue among "key players" within a state, region or metropolitan area including planning, safety, research and other interested professionals. The objective is to "jump start" the SCP process by initiating a dialogue, reviewing current planning processes and activities, identifying challenges, opportunities and resource requirements and creating an action plan.

The Forum Planning Process

The process is led by the chief planning agency within a specified area. The agency commits to host a planning meeting, invite key players, conduct the forum, document the results and follow up on action items.

"This statewide forum is the first of its kind in Maryland, but hopefully not the last. In fact, I'm going to insist that it's not the last. This is just the start of an ongoing process."

Neil Pederson
MD State Highway Administration

drawing: a rural two-lane road drawing: overhead view of a hithway interchange drawing: a four lane highway

Improvements in vehicle crashworthiness, driver behavior and road design/operations have saved lives and reduced injuries; however, the nation continues to suffer more than 41,000 fatalities and three million injuries each year because of highway crashes. To reduce this toll, safety measures such as Transportation Safety Planning (TSP) should be pursued early in the planning process. SCP seeks to develop a set of transportation system safety strategies that make it more difficult for crashes to happen in the first place.

Who Is Responsible?

When it comes to transportation planning, a number of key groups are involved in the process, including the following:

Responsibility for SCP lies primarily with transportation planners at the state and local levels because they make decisions that affect land use and transportation. However, if SCP strategies are to be comprehensive and fully integrated, planners must coordinate their activities with safety practitioners, researchers, partners and the public.

How To Get Involved

  1. Gain management support.
  2. Motivate partners to participate including the following:
    • State DOT Planning, Safety and Operations
    • MPO Planners and Managers
    • Local Transportation Planners
    • Rural Planning Organizations
    • US DOT Field Staff
    • Highway Safety Offices
    • State and Local Law Enforcement
    • Motor Carriers
    • Transit Operators
    • Researchers
    • Roadbuilders
    • Contractors and Consultants
  3. Host a Transportation Safety Planning Forum. For assistance, contacts are listed below.
  4. Develop and implement an action plan.

For more information, contact:

American Association of State Highway and

Transportation Officials

David Clawson -

American Automobile Association

Kathleen Marvaso -

Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations

DeLania Hardy -

Federal Highway Administration

Roger Petzold -

Kathy Hoffman -

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Brian McLaughlin -

Federal Transit Administration

Ken Lord -

Institute of Transportation Engineers

Lisa Fontana -

National Association of Governors' Highway

Safety Representatives

Barbara Harsha -

National Association of Regional Councils

Fred Abousleman -

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Marlene Markison -

Transportation Research Board

Rick Pain -

Updated: 8/12/2015
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