AASHTO Journal, 18 March 2016
The Federal Highway Administration issued its “final rule” to set the performance management measures that state departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations must track to assess how they are using federal funds and meeting targets under the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program.
This safety regulation covers the first of three sets of performance measures the FHWA is generating as a result of requirements in the 2012 surface transportation law known as MAP-21. The others, expected later this year, will be in the areas of bridge and pavement condition; development of asset management plans; and the metropolitan and statewide planning process.
Matthew Hardy, AASHTO’s program director for planning and performance management, said state DOTs have been expecting the performance measures for years.
“Overall, the national-level performance measures being developed by the USDOT are intended to provide the public more transparency into how state agencies implement the federal-aid highway program in order to achieve performance targets established for various goal areas,” he said, “and better enable transportation leaders to make data-driven decisions on where and how to spend program funds.”
Hardy said that by starting with the safety measures, the FHWA and state DOTs can first put the new performance management process into effect in areas that can help reduce accidents and save lives.
In a press release announcing the measures, the U.S. Department of Transportation said the final rule for the first time calls for state and regional targets to help reduce highway deaths and injuries among people walking and bicycling.
The new regulation, it said, calls for improved data on roadway features and a consistent definition of serious injuries.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said: “The department has been working hard with communities around the country to reduce the growing number of pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and fatalities. Having a uniform national performance measure will help us all work together to save lives.”
The addition of bicycle-pedestrian performance measures, the announcement said, “is an acknowledgement that non-motorized safety is of particular concern, and that “improving conditions and safety for bicycling and walking will help create an integrated, intermodal transportation system that provides travelers with real choices.”
This rule, which takes effect April 14, retains most of the major provisions of a prior notice of proposed rulemaking, but makes two significant changes. It adds a fifth performance measure, under which state DOTs and MPOs must assess the number of combined non-motorized fatalities and non-motorized serious injuries. And it revises its earlier proposed methodology for determining whether a state has met its performance targets or made significant progress.
With those changes the FHWA’s five required measures to assess performance and carry out the highway safety program are:
-1 Number of fatalities.
-2 Rate of fatalities per vehicle miles traveled.
-3 Number of serious injuries.
-4 Rate of serious injuries per VMT.
-5 Number of combined non-motorized fatalities and non-motorized serious injuries.
The measures will be calculated based on a five-year rolling average, said the rule notice published in the March 15 Federal Register.
Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau said the rules “will enhance a data-driven approach to making safety decisions, improve collaboration across a wide range of safety partners and provide transparency for the American public. Most importantly, the rules will help save lives as states set and report on safety targets.”