Safe System Strategic Plan

The Safe System Strategic Plan provides a roadmap for the advancement of the Safe System Approach in the United States (U.S.). It describes the Safe System Approach, discusses the process involved in building the plan, outlines how to advance a Safe System mindset, and describes steps necessary to implement Safe System practices within the transportation community in the U.S. This plan focuses on the role of road system owners and operators in applying the Safe System Approach to design, build, and operate safer roads. However, practitioners and partnerships within other safety disciplines play an important role in helping to advance all elements of the Safe System Approach. This plan aims to educate transportation professionals on the effectiveness of the Safe System Approach while also offering guidance on how to prioritize safety in the U.S. as a means to achieving zero traffic fatalities.


Report #: FHWA-SA-21-088

DOT Five-Year Research, Development, and Technology (RD&T) Strategic Plan (FY 2018-2022)

The DOT RD&T Strategic Plan presents the Department’s research priorities for five years (FY 2018-2022) and describes the activities undertaken by the Department to address those priorities. This plan is an update to the previous Plan, covering FY 2017-2021, and meets the requirements set forth in Section 6019 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (Pub. L. 114-94), “Research Planning” (49 USC 6503). This updated plan has been developed to ensure alignment with the Department’s strategic goals and priorities as defined in the DOT Strategic Plan (2018-2022).

USDOT Research, Development, and Technology (RD&T) Annual Modal Research Plans

Under 49 U.S.C. Chapter 65 (Research Planning), Section 6501, each modal (operating) administration and joint program office is required to submit an Annual Modal Research Plan (AMRP) to the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology each year for review and approval. The plans are required to provide a comprehensive annual modal research plan for the upcoming fiscal year and a detailed outlook for the following fiscal year. The plans provided at the below link address fiscal years 2021 and 2022 in addition to the plans developed for prior fiscal years.

The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology

This is TRB Special Report #261.

The Research and Technology Coordinating Committee (RTCC) was convened in 1991 by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies to provide a continuing, independent assessment of the
Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) research and technology (R&T) program. Funding for the committee is provided by FHWA.

A previous RTCC report describes research, development, and technology transfer in the highway industry (TRB 1994). Since preparing that report, the RTCC has examined many specific aspects of highway R&T, some at the request of FHWA and some under its own initiative and with FHWA’s support. Much has happened to the structure and funding of highway R&T since 1994, especially as a result of passage of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) in June 1998. TEA-21 led to increased awareness among the highway industry that highway R&T is a shared responsibility and that federal highway R&T cannot address all highway transportation issues or serve all potential industry customers. This awareness has brought focus to the need for improved coordination among the various highway R&T activities, an idea this committee has supported in the past.

TEA-21 also called for TRB to establish a study committee to determine the “goals, purposes, research agenda and projects, administrative structure, and fiscal needs for a new strategic highway research program.” That committee proposed a Future Strategic Highway Research Program (F-SHRP) modeled afterthe first SHRP. This program would be focused, time constrained, management driven, and designed to complement other existing highway research programs.

The passage of TEA-21 influenced the formation of the National Highway R&T Partnership Forum in late 1998 by FHWA, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and TRB. The purpose of the forum was “to engage the entire highway transportation community in the identification of highway R&T needs and to address the benefits to be realized by forming partnerships to fulfill those needs.” Participation in the partnership effort was completely voluntary but ultimately involved hundreds of individuals and more than 160 organizations. The RTCC assigned a committee member to monitor each of the forum’s working groups. A summary of R&T needs prepared by the forum is included in Appendix B.

As these activities were getting under way, the committee decided to examine whether the focus and activities of the federal highway R&T program are appropriate in light of the needs of the nation’s highway system and the roles and activities of other highway R&T programs. The RTCC worked closely with the F-SHRP committee while carrying out this analysis; indeed, the F-SHRP committee had four members in common with the RTCC. By agreement of the National Academies, the two committees shared draft materials. This report presents the findings resulting from the RTCC’s examination of federal highway R&T and a proposal for a change in direction aimed at strengthening the overall R&T enterprise. The report was prepared as a companion to the F-SHRP committee’s report [Strategic Highway Research: Saving Lives, Reducing Congestion, Improving Quality of Life (TRB 2001)] and is directed toward key federal highway R&T decision makers (Congress and FHWA), as well as the stakeholders in federalhighway R&T.

The term “federal highway R&T program” is used in this report to refer to the combined responsibilities and actions of Congress, the administration, and FHWA in funding federal highway research, determining research needs, setting research program priorities, and executing the research program. Although the recommendations in this report are aimed primarily at FHWA’s R&T program,they are discussed in the context of other programs within the highway R&T enterprise—the state R&T programs, the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, and private-sector research. These other programs focus on highway infrastructure issues and are supported by highway industry stakeholders. The committee recognizes that there are other research programs directly related to the highway system, especially those of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In addition, research undertaken by the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Defense involves topics of interest to highway agencies and researchers.

The recommendations in this report are aimed at the current focus of FHWA’s R&T program. This focus is similar to that of the other highway R&T programs. Nevertheless, the committee believes there are significant
opportunities for fundamental, long-term research that would be beneficial to the national R&T enterprise and that FHWA, as the mission agency responsible for the nation’s highway program, is well positioned to both promote and undertake. Although this report presents recommendations that involve some changes in FHWA’s program, it also recognizes FHWA’s past R&T accomplishments and suggests the continuation of many of the agency’s activities in support of the nation’s highway R&T programs.

The Federal Investment in Hghway Research, 2006-2009: Strengths and Weaknesses

This document is TRB Special Report #295.

Since 1992, the Research and Technology Coordinating Committee (RTCC) has served as an independent advisor on national and federal
highway research. Its work over the past 15 years has been supported by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). During the years in which it has advised FHWA and other highway research sponsors, the committee has issued a number of reports addressing highway research topics, funding, and research management. It has also issued two previous reports addressing highway research at the national and federal levels.

In Special Report 244: Highway Research: Current Programs and FutureDirections (1994), RTCC described and analyzed for the first time the wide range of highway research activities funded through government and industry and made recommendations regarding funding levels for research and development and priority areas for future investment. In 2001, RTCC issued Special Report 261: The Federal Role in Highway Research and Technology. In that report, the committee assessed the strengths and weaknesses of the federal program and made recommendations with respect to funding levels and priorities. In particular, the committee stressed the need for improved stakeholder involvement in the FHWA program and urged that research funding be allocated through merit review of competitively solicited proposals. In both of these reports, RTCC emphasized the importance of allocating a greater share of the federal investment in highway research to longerterm, higher-risk research and made recommendations regarding priority areas for future highway research investment.

In 2007 RTCC’s statement of task was renegotiated with FHWA and was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council.
It states:

This project will provide an ongoing review of the FHWA research program. It will also analyze the federal investment in highway research made in the 2005 reauthorization of surface transportation programs and make recommendations to enhance the value of that investment. The criteria to be used for the committee’s analysis will be those articulated by Congress in the eight basic principles for research and technology innovation in Section 5201 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU).

This report continues RTCC’s tradition of periodically assessing the state of highway research and making recommendations to policy makers. In this report, and consistent with its statement of task, the committee evaluates the investments made in highway research through SAFETEA-LU.

The committee conducted its work over a 3-year period, during which it invited and received briefings from research program managers in
FHWA and the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), as well as from a broad range of stakeholders in highway research. Appendix A lists the many people who made presentations on and discussed various highway research programs. This report reflects the committee’s analysis of the information gathered and its collective, consensus judgment.

PennDOT Research Program Website

Learn about: Active, Completed, and Archived Projects. Current Contracting Mechanisms. PennDOT’s Transportation Pooled Fund Participation. Process for Implementing Research Results.