FHWA announces new efforts to improve road safety

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced two new efforts that will help states, cities and local governments improve road safety.

This announcement is part of ongoing, coordinated work to improve quality of life and reduce unacceptably high rates of traffic deaths in the U.S. in accordance with the Department’s National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS).

Included in the announcement is a new Request for Information (RFI) seeking input on ways to improve safety and design standards for roads to facilitate the development of Complete Streets that serve all road users and a new waiver ensuring states and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) can afford certain Complete Streets activities by removing financial barriers.

“Safety is foundational to our work and these efforts are two more critical tools to improve safety for all road users,” said Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt. “The resources we’re announcing today recognize that safety is a shared responsibility and require input and action from our stakeholders and state partners as we collectively work to build a safe transportation system for everyone. We need multiple layers of protection in place to prevent roadway crashes and minimize the harm caused when they occur.”

FHWA’s RFI, “Improving Road Safety for All Users on Federal-Aid Projects,” seeks public comments from state, regional and local agencies on changes to the FHWA Design Standards regulation or other agency regulations that are needed to facilitate the development of Complete Streets and Complete Networks that serve all road users; how the safety performance of Federal-aid projects should be assessed; and how to include measures that improve safety performance across Federal-aid projects. Comments in response to the RFI can be submitted at regulations.gov and must be received on or before March 20, 2023.

FHWA also announced its latest effort to help accelerate Complete Streets efforts under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, including a waiver in the legislation FHWA is implementing that will reduce Complete Streets planning costs for States and MPOs. Under the waiver, States and MPOs will be able to use federal funding for 100% of the expenses associated with certain planning and research activities.

As part of the NRSS, the Department has adopted the “Safe System Approach,” which uses a redundant system to protect vulnerable road users (non-motorists, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and those using wheelchairs, scooters, micromobility devices and other personal conveyance devices) as well as other road users. FHWA will continue to work with states, cities and local governments to create safer roads, a key component of the approach, and Complete Streets that prioritize safety.