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 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.

Airport Design and Construction Narrative Research Roadmap

TRB’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Web-Only Document 40 outlines the key research gaps and areas of topics of interest for airports in the design and construction field over the next five years.

The research ideas generated as part of this project are organized into seven high‐level themes that represent the main areas and challenges of interest to airports in design and construction.

While design and construction are designated as their own research areas within the ACRP program, the roadmap takes a consolidated approach and combines the two in both the report and the visual representation.

The roadmap includes 40 research ideas that are categorized into seven high‐level themes: Customer Service; Integrating Advanced and/or Disruptive Technologies; Project Management, Delivery and Finance Models; Safety and Security; Sustainability and Resiliency; General Design and Construction; and Workforce Development.

The research ideas are further categorized into twelve subtopics: 1) Passenger Experience; 2) Integrating Technology and Data; 3) Finance and Revenue Development; 4) Alternative Approaches to Project Delivery Mechanisms; 5) Sustainable Design and Construction; 6) Innovative Approaches to Security / TSA Operations; 7) Construction Best Practices / Guidance and Tools; 8) Modernizing and Retrofitting Airport Facilities; 9) Construction Materials; 10) Accommodating Changing Demographics; 11) Curbside, Roadways and Vehicles; and 12) Unmanned Aerial Systems.

The completed Research Roadmap in the Area of Design and Construction of Airport Facilities includes the following products:
• An interactive version of Appendix B: Visual Research Roadmap.
 Appendix C: Research Ideas Database, which is a searchable Excel file containing ideas generated during the project.
• A PowerPoint presentation: Summary of Airport Design and Construction Research Roadmap, which describes the roadmap and related products.

Research Roadmap on Safety Issues

With the airport industry’s introduction and early adoption of safety management systems (SMS), safety processes are taking on a more proactive way of doing the business while continuously improving safety. This shift in approach will drive safety research in the near and long-term future.

The TRB Airport Cooperative Research Program’s ACRP Web-Only Document 50: Research Roadmap on Safety Issues reveals evidence of this shift, with input from the industry clearly indicating that more detailed guidance on, and the sharing of lessons learned regarding the elements and processes falling under the SMS umbrella, is needed.

Two supplemental files accompany this web-only document, including a Safety Research Topics Database and a Visual Research Roadmap.

Airport Environment Research Roadmap


As an industry-driven research program, ACRP relies on a flow of quality research ideas. Traditionally, ACRP primarily has used a bottom-up approach for these ideas, expressed as formal problem statements. ACRP’s Oversight Committee has adopted a strategic plan for the program that includes as a priority ensuring “that problem statements are of the highest quality and greatest relevance to the airport industry.” As a key step to achieving this strategic priority, ACRP is developing a series of research roadmaps, one for each of its 10 topic areas. The goal of these research roadmaps is to identify gaps in knowledge and practice, uncover key opportunities and challenges, and outline and prioritize specific research ideas needed to address these gaps. The roadmaps will also produce research ideas to be entered into ACRP’s IdeaHub, its online collaboration platform for turning ideas into problem statements to be considered for funding.

Airports face unique, numerous, and ever-evolving environmental challenges and opportunities. Common environmental topics have focused on noise, water quality, and air quality. More recently, issues related to sustainability and resiliency have emerged. A research roadmap is needed to help airport industry practitioners identify and prioritize research needs related to environmental issues.


The objective of this research is to develop an airport environmental research roadmap. The roadmap should recommend priorities and timing, set a strategy, and provide a rationale for the recommendations. In addition, the roadmap should:

  • Focus on airport environmental research needs to be undertaken within the next 5 years;
  • Consider existing relevant environmental roadmaps and research recommendations;
  • Consider the needs of airports of all sizes, geographies, levels and types of activity, and resource constraints;
  • Recognize airports are a component of communities and intermodal transportation systems;
  • Address potential positive environmental effects that airports can generate;
  • Reflect priorities of a broad group of stakeholders;
  • Prioritize research with consideration to ACRP’s strategic plan;
  • Create environmental research ideas to be entered into ACRP’s IdeaHub for further development into problem statements; and
  • Include a long-range (i.e., beyond 5 years) environmental research needs assessment that accounts for uncertainty, data limitations, emerging technologies, and evolving policies.


Research is complete.  Results are provided in ACRP Web-Only Document 45, a Dataset, and an Interactive Roadmap.

Research Roadmap for the AASHTO Council on Active Transportation

STATUS: Research is complete.
The Research Roadmap, with prioritized research needs, is available here:

The Research Review summarizes existing and ongoing research in 22 topic areas:
The Continuity and Implementation Plan provides the Council on Active Transportation (CAT) with tools and steps to implement the Roadmap:

A spreadsheet for tracking research is available for download here (xlsx format):


In November 2016, the AASHTO Board of Directors adopted a new committee structure for the organization that included creating the CAT as part of the Transportation Policy Forum. The Council addresses issues related to bicycle, pedestrian, and other active transportation modes, including non-motorized access to the multi-modal network.
The objective of this project was to develop a research roadmap that can be used by the Council to focus its efforts to foster, support, monitor, disseminate, and implement research on active transportation. The roadmap will builds upon existing research and is informed by outreach to the active transportation practitioner community. In addition to identifying research gaps and prioritizing research needs, the roadmap aligns with the Council’s strategic plan for future Council activities, including collaboration with other AASHTO committees and councils.

Transportation System Resilience: Research Roadmap and White Papers

The objectives of this project are to develop a research roadmap and three white papers for senior executives on transportation resilience. Together with the resilience CEO primer and engagement activities developed under NCHRP Project 20-59(55), this series of products and activities will lead into and inform the research in NCHRP Project 20-59(117) that will culminate in a national summit and peer exchange on transportation resilience to be held in late 2018. Accomplishment of the project objectives will require at least the following tasks.
Task 1. Prepare three executive level white papers on special topics related to transportation resilience in support of the national summit on resilience included in the scope of work in NCHRP Project 20-59(117). See topics 1, 2, and 3, below. The three white papers should be written to a similar depth as “Understanding Transportation Resilience: A 2016-2018 Roadmap.”
Task 2. Develop a 5-year research roadmap for use in focusing the efforts of the transportation community in implementing a broad based program addressing a resilient transportation system. The work will inform, complement, enhance, and augment work and conclusions arising from NCHRP Project 20-59(117).

The white papers will address the questions: To be resilient in these areas, what can I do now? What should I worry about? Systems interdependencies and lifelines will be emphasized across all three white papers. White papers are pre-summit only; focused on specific actions; designed to initiate discussion; and may address some of the same topics as the CEO primer. The CEO primer is intended to guide specific actions. Both the white papers and the CEO primer have as their primary audiences state DOT CEOs and senior executives. The CEO primer should, in addressing topics such as those enumerated below, complement the three white papers that are anticipated to provide responsive overviews to the questions following the first three topics below:

  1. Cyber systems resilience (including unintentional effects such as space weather): What can a state DOT do now or worry about when it comes to resilient cyber systems with respect to critical functions, assets, networks, systems and people?
  2. Economics (both ways), maintaining a viable tax base, using DOT purchasing power to help recover the local economy (economic function of resilience, national security): What can a state DOT do now or worry about when it comes to a resilient economy where a state DOT not only contributes to but benefits from a vibrant commerce environment? What are the functions, assets, networks, and systems that are enhanced through this resiliency?
  3. Sea level rise/extreme weather (climate change issues, uncertainty, non-urgent): What can a state DOT do now or worry about when it comes to creating resiliency against extreme weather and/or sea level rise, and how does that DOT harness and augment its functions, assets, networks, assets, systems, and people to sustain operations through changes in weather?
  4. Earthquakes (including New Madrid and Northwest Subduction Zone)
  5. Choke points/single points of failure
  6. Human factors/COOP, succession planning
  7. Automated/connected vehicles
  8. Workforce development
  9. Drought/heat

For the purposes of this project’s construct, “functions” refers to the assignments, tasks, and positions in a state DOT that are critical to the performance of continued transportation service through any hazard or disruption; “assets” refers to the infrastructure, equipment, resources, tools, vehicles, hardware, roadways, tunnels, and facilities owned and operated by a state DOT to ensure the continued safe transport of goods and people through any hazard or disruption; “networks” refers to the relationships maintained by a state DOT with local municipalities, contractors, the private sector, and other branches of local, state and federal government to ensure continuity of transportation operations through any hazard or disruption; “systems” refers to the variety of critical technology platforms and applications, including all software utilities and electronic forms of data, utilized by state DOT personnel to operate assets and infrastructure, support functional continuity, and enable network communication and reliability through any hazard or disruption; “people” refers to the inherently necessary human resources and personnel needed by a state DOT to ensure transportation service is provided through any hazard or disruption.

Supplementary materials to the report include a Road Map Ratings and Rankings Workbook (Appendix B) and a Resilience Research Roadmap and White Papers Presentation.

The contractor’s final version of “Understanding Transportation Resilience: A 2016-2018 Roadmap,” has been approved by the 20-59(14C) panel. A PowerPoint presentation was developed to present the roadmap and it has been published by AASHTO. It is expected that this roadmap will be of interest to those conducting research on transportation resilience issues. This roadmap also informs the work done in NCHRP Project 20-59(55) and NCHRP Project 20-117; the panel overseeing those projects (NCHRP 20-59) has full discretion to amend the roadmap as they see fit.
For the TRB Annual Meeting in January 2017, the contractor prepared two items:

Other useful resources for this project include:

Fundamental Capabilities of Effective All-Hazards Infrastructure Protection, Resilience, and Emergency Management for State Departments of Transportation (September 2015), AASHTO

Managing Catastrophic Transportation Emergencies: A Guide for Transportation Executives (September 2015), AASHTO

National Infrastructure Protection Plan (2006), DHS

Transportation Systems: Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources Sector-Specific Plan as input to the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (May 2007), DHS

Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

Impacts of Connected Vehicles and Automated Vehicles on State and Local Transportation Agencies


The objectives of NCHRP Project 20-102 are to (1) identify critical issues associated with connected vehicles and automated vehicles that state and local transportation agencies and AASHTO will face, (2) conduct research to address those issues, and (3) conduct related technology transfer and information exchange activities.

The list of projects funded under NCHRP 20-102 are at the bottom of this page and are included in the Summary of NCHRP 20-102 Activities

NCHRP Project 20-24(98) developed a draft research roadmap for addressing CV/AV issues. NCHRP Project 20-102(19) is updating this roadmap and has completed their review of the previous roadmap.



Connected vehicle technologies are being developed to enable safe, interoperable networked wireless communications among vehicles (V2V), the infrastructure (V2I), and travelers’ personal communication devices (V2X). These technologies are intended to reduce highway crashes; provide data for assessing the performance of the transportation system; provide continual access to accurate information on the operation of the system to travelers; and reduce unnecessary stops, delays, and emissions.
Automated vehicle technologies are also under development that will significantly change fundamental planning, design, and operational characteristics for the road network. Some industry leaders expect that Level 4 vehicle automation (under NHTSA and SAE definitions) will be available on the market by 2018. Fully autonomous, driverless vehicles (SAE Level 5 automation) could be on the market by 2025.
For Level 5 automation, “the vehicle is designed to perform all safety-critical driving functions and monitor roadway conditions for an entire trip. Such a design anticipates that the driver will provide destination or navigation input, but is not expected to be available for control at any time during the trip.” (NHTSA, Preliminary Statement of Policy Concerning Automated Vehicles) Level 4 automation is essentially the same as Level 5, without any driver supervision (e.g., there is no expectation that the driver will be engaged), over a limited driving domain. These vehicles may be safer than current models.
Connected vehicles and automated vehicles are essentially different technologies, though some of the challenges they present to transportation agencies will be similar. These two technologies may converge or diverge from each other based largely on developments in the private sector (e.g., vehicle manufacturers, third-party vendors). While some actors envision a completely autonomous vehicle that does not require communication with other entities, others see serendipities between the two technologies. This project will address both technologies (including the combination) under the umbrella term of CV/AV. The individual tasks that compose the project will clearly identify which technologies are to be addressed.

A request for statements of qualifications was active from December 11, 2014 to January 29, 2015. Four task-order contracts have been executed. For the individual tasks selected by the NCHRP Project 20-102 panel (listed below), the selected task-order contractors will be asked to submit competitive proposals that will be evaluated by a separate panel for each task. These task panels will also oversee the contractor’s work.

During the course of the contract, task-order contractors will be expected to submit quarterly progress reports that include: (1) brief status reports on tasks currently underway (including a table of milestones and deliverables, significant findings, a description of any problems encountered, and recommended solutions to such problems); (2) summary of significant events in the CV and AV industries that may affect the research roadmap; and (3) recommendations for updates to the research roadmap.


The NCHRP will decide in Summer 2017 whether to readvertise for task-order contractors or to extend the ones that are in place.


20-102(20) Workforce Capability Strategies for State and Local Agencies

20-102(22) State and Local Impacts of Automated Freight Transportation Systems