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Section 2: Highway Safety Plan (HSP)

Background

Each federal fiscal year (October 1 – September 30), the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), Traffic Operations Division-Traffic Safety Section (TRF-TS), develops a state Highway Safety Plan (HSP) to qualify for federal highway safety funding. The HSP includes:

  1. the State’s response to the Section 405 National Priority Safety Program Grants qualification criteria, and
  2. the State’s planned highway safety program for all funding sources for the upcoming fiscal year.

After Texas Transportation Commission approval has been obtained, TRF-TS submits the HSP to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for approval in accordance with 23 C.F.R. Part 1200, Uniform Procedures for State Highway Safety Grant Programs. NHTSA regional offices are required to determine if the HSP is in compliance with Chapter 4 of Title 23 U.S.C. as amended by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), and Part 1200 - Uniform Procedures for State Highway Safety Programs, and provide “best” practice recommendations to support program progress.

Once the HSP is approved, NHTSA sends TxDOT a letter acknowledging the State’s submission of the Performance Plan, HSP, Certificates and Assurances, and Cost Summary comply with all federal requirements. The HSP is due on July 1 annually, and is submitted by email to NHTSAGrants@dot.gov. The NHTSA Regional Office has access to the plan from the email site, as does the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Significant changes pertaining to the HSP were made in interim federal regulations as a result of the passage of MAP-21 on July 6, 2012. A consolidated application process for the Section 402 program and six national priority safety programs, codified into a single section as the Section 405 program, was established effective with the Fiscal Year 2014 application year.

This section provides an overview of the traffic safety program planning and development process used by TRF-TS to develop the annual HSP, which is the foundation of the State’s highway safety program.

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Influencing Factors

Each fiscal year, at the beginning of the HSP development process, traffic safety planners consider a number of factors in determining project priorities and areas of emphasis. These factors include:

  • federal legislation
  • state statutes
  • federal and national priorities and goals
  • state and local problems.

Other influences can be federal and state legislative bodies, community-based organizations, local and national interest groups, state and local traffic safety related non-profit organizations, and local governments. Projects can be proposed directly or indirectly by members of any of these organizations. The key goal is to assure that all projects in the Texas HSP are data driven and not solely responses to political or community pressures.

From time to time, Congress designates or earmarks federal highway safety funds for specific purposes and uses. Projects developed in response to these earmarked funds must be data driven as well, with the earmarked funds dedicated to the areas of the state with the greatest threat to public safety.

The HSP is intergovernmental in nature, functioning either directly or indirectly, through grant agreements, contracts, service purchase orders, and requisitions. State and local sources analyze data to identify traffic safety problems by identifying specific causes of motor vehicle crashes (see “Problem Identification and Community Assessment” in Section 3 of this chapter). They then submit proposals to TxDOT TRF-TS for grants to address the problems (see Chapter 3 of this manual for more information on Traffic Safety Project Proposals).

A strong problem identification statement by an organization requesting a grant defines the nature and magnitude of the problem to be addressed, and is supported by verifiable and sourced data. Grant requests also identify specific traffic safety problems through archived and collected data from various sources, including community assessments, traffic analyses, local speed and occupant restraint use surveys, local law enforcement agencies, and hospital and emergency room reports. The proposals must provide specifics on site location (city, county, roadway section, statewide, etc.), population data, target audience, and over or under-representation comparisons (i.e., either over or under state or federal level crash data, or over or under the standard safety belt usage rate at the local level).

It is through the analysis and synthesis of the data described above, and the stringent requirements placed on potential subgrantees and contractors, that the State’s traffic safety problems are identified and prioritized for inclusion in the annual Texas HSP.

TRF-TS processes grant agreements and contracts for local jurisdictions, other state agencies, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations, and develops the HSP using the proposals approved for funding. TRF-TS then submits the proposed funding amounts for the annual HSP to the Texas Transportation Commission for approval. After Commission approval, an approved project list is issued.

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Highway Safety Program Areas

The Texas HSP typically addresses 14 program areas. These 14 program areas form the framework for providing detailed descriptions of the selected traffic safety projects. For a complete listing of the HSP program areas, with their respective and applicable federal two-letter alpha character accounting code designators, see the table below.

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Program Area # / Title (NHTSA Accounting Code)

01

Planning and Administration (PA)

02

Alcohol (AL)

03

Emergency Medical Services (EM)

04

Motorcycle Safety (MC)

05

Occupant Protection (OP)

06

Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety (PS)

07

Police Traffic Services (PT)

08

Speed Control (SC)

09

Traffic Records (TR)

10

Driver Education (DE)

11

Railroad-Highway Crossings (RH)

12

Roadway Safety (RS)

13

Safe Communities (SA)

14

School Bus Safety (SB)



NOTE: TxDOT has designated additional priority program areas as eligible for funding based on needs assessments and NHTSA approval. Proposed projects must support the goals and strategies for the program areas in the HSP. Grant agreements implement the HSP.

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Program Funding

Funding of the project within the 14 program areas comes from state and federal (NHTSA) sources, and from local cost sharing by subgrantees.

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Highway Safety Plan Development Process

The Texas HSP describes the processes used to identify the State's traffic safety problems, establish performance measures, and propose the projects and activities the State plans to implement to reach its performance targets. Performance measures for each target track progress from a baseline toward meeting the target by the specified date.

The Texas highway safety planning process consists of six stages:

  1. Planning to select or review program strategies and performance goals and measures
  2. Problem Identification
  3. Issuance of Request for Proposals
  4. Internal Coordination
  5. Review, Comment, and Approval
  6. Implementation.

Explanations of these stages follow under separate subheadings.

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Planning, Problem Identification, and Request for Proposals (Stages 1, 2, & 3)

Planning, Problem Identification, and Request for Proposals, the first three stages of the HSP process, include the steps shown in the following table.

NOTE: Dates shown are approximate, and deadlines may vary from year to year.

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Step

Responsible Party

Action

Approx. Date

1

TRF

Conducts strategic planning every several years to review performance goals and strategies for the HSP.

May–June

2

TRF-TS

Performs statewide and local problem identification.

Sept.–Oct.

3

TRF-TS

Announces Highway Safety Request for Proposals (RFP), posts RFP on the TxDOT website, and publishes RFP in the Texas Register.

November



See Section 3 of this chapter for more information on “Problem Identification.”

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Internal Coordination (Stage 4)

Internal Coordination, the fourth stage of the HSP process, includes the steps shown in the following table.

NOTE: Dates shown are approximate, and deadlines may vary from year to year.

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Step

Responsible Party

Action

Approx. Date

1

Local & State Agencies

Submit project proposals to TxDOT through eGrants.

January

2

TRF-TS

Collects project proposals.

January

3

TRF-TS

Reviews and scores all project proposals.

Jan.–Feb.

4

TRF-TS

Shares proposal results with proposing agencies.

Mar.–Apr.



Local community-based organizations, state agencies and other organizations submit their project proposals to TRF-TS through the TxDOT Traffic Safety Electronic Grants Management System (eGrants). All general traffic safety project proposals are submitted to an appropriate Program Manager for a cursory review of eligibility. Once a Program Manager determines basic project eligibility, the project is assigned to a scoring team. Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) proposals are automatically scored by the eGrants system. When all eligible projects have been scored, the results are calculated and reviewed by TRF-TS and the TRF Director, and a recommended project list is generated. Based on this list, TRF-TS prepares the program area module narratives to include the project descriptions for the HSP.

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Review, Comment and Approval (Stage 5)

Review, Comment, and Approval, the fifth stage of the HSP process, includes the steps shown in the following table.

NOTE: Dates shown are approximate, and deadlines may vary from year to year.

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Step

Responsible Party

Action

Approx. Date

1

TRF Planner

Develops first draft of HSP project list.

March

2

TRF Planner

Develops first draft HSP.

April

3

TRF-TS

Negotiates proposals as necessary.

April

4

TRF-TS

Submits final HSP project list to TRF Director for review.

April

5

TRF

Prepares final copy of HSP funding recommendations and Minute Order for Texas Transportation Commission meeting.

May

6

Texas Transportation Commission

Approves HSP funding and Minute Order.

May



The HSP funding recommendations are prepared and submitted to the Texas Transportation Commission for approval in May, so the HSP can be submitted to NHTSA for approval no later than July 1. Federal approval of the State’s HSP is in the form of a letter from NHTSA acknowledging the State’s submission of a certification statement that the HSP complies with all the requirements.

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Implementation (Stage 6)

Implementation, the sixth stage of the HSP process, includes the steps shown in the following table.

NOTE: Dates shown are approximate, and deadlines may vary from year to year.

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Step

Responsible Party

Result

Approx. Date

1

TRF-TS

Submits draft HSP to NHTSA for review.

June 1

2

TRF-TS

Submits final HSP to NHTSA.

July 1

3

TRF

Project list is approved.

July

4

TxDOT

Processes and approves grant agreements and contracts.

Sept.

5

TxDOT

Receives NHTSA approval of HSP.

Sept.

6

TxDOT

Activates HSP and implements projects.

Oct. 1



When the funding for the HSP has received Commission approval, projects on the project list are approved. Grant agreements are then generated for approval by the subgrantees and TxDOT.

Projects can be activated only after federal funding approval for the State’s HSP has been received. The negotiation of more than 300 project agreements usually requires 30 days to complete. The ultimate goal is to have all of the agreements ready for activation on October 1, the beginning of the federal fiscal year.

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Required HSP Contents

The HSP is required by USDOT NHTSA regulations. The federal regulations outline the required content of the HSP, including the:

  • Planning Process Performance Plan
  • Strategies and Projects Performance Report
  • Program Cost Summary
  • Certifications and Assurances
  • Teen Traffic Safety Program
  • Section 405 Grant Application.

Each of these elements is described in more detail in the following subsections.

For the most part, the HSP development is an internal activity conducted within TRF-TS under the leadership of the TRF-TS Program Planner. Input and information collected throughout the year from federal, state, and local traffic safety sources and partners is considered by TRF-TS. In some cases, TRF-TS may specifically solicit input from selected partners or others with experience in a selected program area. This process ensures state and local agencies, as well as public and private organizations using the program areas, targets, and strategies developed by TRF-TS, can then propose projects that directly support and implement those strategies.

This guidance is provided to subgrantees annually in the TRF Traffic Safety Request for Proposals (RFP) publication. The RFP includes a synopsis of the State data and the selected funding priorities, key problem areas, targets and emphasis areas, and proven strategies.

Highway Safety Planning Process

The HSP contains the targets, strategies, performance measures and objectives Texas sets for each fiscal year. It is provided as part of the MAP-21 grant application.

The TRF-TS Program Planner coordinates the strategic planning process for the Texas Traffic Safety Program. This involves the development of an informal five-year strategic plan, which provides the general mission of the Traffic Safety Program and is created through a process that includes input from TRF-TS Project Managers and other program partners.

Strategic Planning – The strategic planning process re-evaluates the program areas, goals, and strategies and reviews the traffic safety program mission statement.

As an outgrowth of the strategic planning process:

  • Texas developed specific goals, strategies, and performance measures for the Texas Traffic Safety Program.
  • objectives were established for all performance measures.
  • TRF-TS seeks public comments by posting a Request for Comments in the Texas Register and sending e-mail notifications to all registered users of eGrants.

The Texas HSP planning process includes a brief description of the data sources and processes used by the State to:

  • identify highway safety problems
  • describe highway safety performance measures and define performance targets
  • develop and select evidence-based countermeasure strategies and projects to address problems and achieve performance targets
  • identify the participants in the processes (e.g., highway safety committees, program stakeholders, community and constituent groups)
  • discuss the strategies for project selection (e.g., constituent outreach, public meetings, solicitation of proposals), and list the information and data sources consulted
  • describe the efforts to coordinate (and the outcomes from the coordination of) the HSP, data collection, and information systems with the Texas Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) as defined in 23 U.S.C. § 148(a).

Performance Plan

The Texas HSP contains the following elements:

  • A list of annual quantifiable and measurable highway safety performance targets that is data-driven, consistent with the Uniform Guidelines for State Highway Safety Programs, and based on highway safety problems identified by the State during the State’s planning process.
  • Performance measures developed by TxDOT in collaboration with the Governor's Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and others, beginning with the MAP-21 directed Traffic Safety Performance Measures for States and Federal Agencies (DOT HS 811 025), which are used as a minimum in developing the performance targets identified in this section.

The performance measures common to the State's HSP and the State Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) (fatalities, fatality rate, and serious injuries) are defined identically, as coordinated with the Texas SHSP. At least one performance measure and performance target that is data driven is provided for each program area that enables the State to track progress, from a specific baseline, toward meeting the target (e.g., a target “to increase seat belt use from X percent in Year 1 to Y percent in Year 2,” using a performance measure of “percent of restrained occupants in front outboard seating positions in passenger motor vehicles”).

For each performance measure, the State provides:

  • documentation of current safety levels
  • quantifiable annual performance targets
  • justification for each performance target that explains why the target is appropriate and data-driven.

For program areas where performance measures have not been jointly developed, Texas has developed its own performance measures and performance targets that are data-driven.

Highway Safety Strategies and Projects

The annual Texas HSP contains a description of:

  • each countermeasure strategy and project the State plans to implement to reach the performance targets identified. At a minimum, the State HSP describes one year of Section 402 and 405 countermeasure strategies and projects (which includes countermeasure strategies identified in the Texas SHSP), and identifies funds from other sources, including federal, state, local, and private sector funds, that the State plans to use for the projects or use to achieve program area performance targets.
  • the State's process for selecting the countermeasure strategies and projects described above. At a minimum, the State provides an assessment of the overall traffic safety impacts of the strategies chosen and proposed or approved projects to be funded.
  • the data and data analysis or other documentation supporting the effectiveness of the proposed countermeasure strategies described above.
  • the evidence-based traffic safety enforcement program to prevent traffic violations, crashes, and crash fatalities and injuries in areas most at risk for these incidents. At a minimum, the State provides:
    • an analysis of crashes, crash fatalities, and injuries in areas of highest risk
    • deployment of resources based on that analysis
    • continuous follow-up and adjustment of the enforcement plan.
  • the planned high visibility enforcement strategies to support national mobilizations.

Performance Report

The Texas HSP also includes a program-area-level report on the State's success in meeting performance targets from the previous fiscal year's HSP.

Program Cost Summary and List of Projects

The Texas HSP contains a Summary of Planned Funding to reflect the State's proposed allocations of funds (including carry-forward funds) by program area. The funding level used is an estimate of available funding for the upcoming fiscal year based on amounts authorized for the fiscal year and projected carry-forward funds.

An accompanying list of projects that the State proposes to conduct for that fiscal year and an estimated amount of federal funds for each project must be provided for each program area.

Certifications and Assurances

The Texas HSP contains the required Certifications and Assurances for Section 402 Grants signed by the Governor's Representative for Highway Safety, certifying the HSP application contents, and providing assurances that the State will comply with applicable laws and regulations, financial and programmatic requirements, and, in accordance with 23 C.F.R. § 1200.13, the special funding conditions for the Section 402 program.

Section 405 Grant Application

The Texas HSP includes an application for any of the national priority safety program grants, in accordance with the requirements of 23 C.F.R. Part 1200, Subpart C, including Appendix D to Part 1200 — Certifications and Assurances for Section 405 Grants, signed by the Governor's Representative for Highway Safety.

NOTE: The TxDOT Executive Director is the designated governor’s highway safety representative.

Coordination with the Texas Strategic Highway Safety Plan

Under MAP-21, the State is required to include in the HSP a description of the efforts made to coordinate the HSP and the outcomes of the coordination, data collection and information systems with the Texas Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP).

TRF-TS coordinates closely with the State staff responsible for development of the SHSP to maximize integration and utilization of data analysis resources, fully represent driver behavior issues and strategies, and utilize any statewide safety committees to obtain input from State and local traffic safety partners for the Texas HSP. TRF-TS will ensure the targets and objectives contained in the SHSP are considered in the annual development of the HSP and incorporated to the fullest extent possible. TRF-TS will review the SHSP and HSP to identify any gaps in addressing driver behavior issues and eliminate any redundancy to ensure the maximum use of resources.

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