Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP)

Work Zone Safety | HSIP Application/Procedure update | Traffic Engineering memoranda | MUTCD and Virginia Supplement

Highway Safety Improvement Program Overview

Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) was signed into law July 2012 to ensure federal surface transportation programs are streamlined, performance based, and to address challenges facing U.S. transportation by improving safety, reducing delays in project delivery etc.

The Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (or the FAST Act) builds on the changes made by MAP-21.

FAST Act was passed into law on Dec. 4, 2015, and extended to authorize the federal surface transportation programs for highways, highways safety, and transit.

The FAST Act continues the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) with minor revisions.

The HSIP is a core federal-aid program, with the purpose of achieving a significant reduction in fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads, including non-state-owned public roads and roads on tribal land. (23 U.S.C. 148(b)).

The FAST Act continues to retain the apportionment rules set under MAP-21. Federal aid contributes 90 to 100 percent of certain safety improvements.

HSIP is a data-driven, strategic approach program for infrastructure improvements for all highway travel modes.

Emphasis is placed on strategies and actions with expected performance outcomes as documented in Virginia’s 2017-21 Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP).

With Virginia’s vision that everyone should arrive alive, we should work towards zero highway deaths. Infrastructure and operational “engineering” improvements must join with education, enforcement and emergency response partners to reduce crashes and their consequences. 


Two additional safety programs has been added in the Smart Portal:

  • Systemic Safety Improvement (SSI)
  • Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety Program (H-RGCP)

All the applications must be submitted through the portal at: https://smartportal.virginiahb2.org/

Contact SmartPortal@CTB.Virginia.gov or the Central Office Traffic Engineering Highway Safety Improvement program team to obtain log in credentials or with any questions or concerns. This year, the applications window for all four programs will be:
  • Highway Safety Program (HSP): August 1 - November 1
  • Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Program (BPSP): August 1 - November 1
  • Systemic Safety Improvement (SSI): August 1 - November 1
  • Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety Program (H-RGCP): August 1 - November 1

The linked flow chart explains the process and deadline of application. Application Portal Process (HSP-BPSP-SSI-HRGCP).

States are required to set performance measures and targets for reductions in the number of fatalities and serious injuries and the reduction in the rate of fatalities and serious injuries per million vehicle miles traveled for the five years of the SHSP and annually with safety partners.

Further, required performance measure development and reporting at multiple levels are to be determined when FHWA HSIP related regulation (final rules) are issued.

Information on all of FAST Act FHWA programs:  https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/fastact/summary.cfm

Information on the FAST Act HSIP elements:

The Virginia Department of Transportation's HSIP involves the identification of intersections or highway segments with above average total and injury crashes for existing traffic, analysis of crash trends and existing conditions, and economic and / or risk evaluation of proposed safety project benefits. 

VDOT’s HSIP consists of: 

  • Highway Safety Program (HSP)
    • Systemic Safety Improvement (SSI)
  • Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Program (BPSP)
  • Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety Program (H-RGCP)

Note: Under ACTION: 23 U.S.C. 148(g) (1) Fiscal Year 2018 High Risk Rural Roads (HRRR) Special Rules. Virginia was identified as experiencing an increase in its fatality rate on rural roads over the most recent two-year period.

Therefore, the state must obligate a specific amount of funds toward HRRR safety projects in the next fiscal year.

New HSIP project planning and development processes for each program have been developed in consultation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), given the FAST Act guidelines, final rulings (policy) and funding provided. 

As such, adding safety projects to Virginia’s Six-Year Improvement Program (SYIP) and STIP will only be considered if Virginia’s Highway Safety Improvement Program Implementation Guidelines are followed.

Chapter 6 for Locally Administered Projects has been revised.
Local jurisdictions submitting HSIP proposals for Fiscal Year 2019 must meet new criteria and follow new process requirements.

A summary presentation and application process on the chapter is provided here, look for HSIP webinars:

HSIP Projects for Fiscal Year 2019

Presuming level funding for the next six years, safety projects have been programmed for multiple years based on the priority and delivery expectations of each VDOT district.

District proportion programming targets are set by HSIP each year.

New and active HSIP projects are listed at: http://syip.virginiadot.org/

You may generate and download a listing for your interest, for example district or jurisdiction, by first filtering on Fund = .Highway Safety Improvement; .High Risk Rural; and .Rail Highway Crossing (note the first character is a dot [.] before each program name). 

Next, the district or jurisdiction columns may be sorted and the file exported to a XLS file.

VDOT HSIP has additional resources on its OutsideVDOT website Highway Safety Projects folder for finding and tracking VDOT and ocally administered HSIP projects. 

Contact the HSIP staff for access to VDOT’s Tableau ® active projects tracking tools using free Tableau reader software.

A list of HSP, BPS and H-RGC projects added to the Virginia transportation Six-Year Improvement Program (SYIP) for Virginia’s Fiscal Years 2018-23 will be available after the program is published in July.  

Contact your VDOT district preliminary engineering manager and / or the planning and investment management office to determine steps to initiate new projects.

Federal authorization for new safety projects may be able to begin as early as July each year.

Cost Participation

VDOT HSIP anticipates providing the 10 percent local match for safety projects funded as outlined by MAP-21.

If the final project cost is higher than what was originally submitted, the project manager and sponsor will be responsible for identifying sources for funding over those estimates.

During project delivery, if the cost increases more than 10 percent of the original estimate over the programmed total estimate, a new benefit-cost (B / C) ratio calculation must be submitted to determine if the project remains eligible for additional HSIP funding. 

Locality and district Traffic Engineering staff typically conducts the economic evaluations.

Should the project B / C ratio become less than 1.0 at any time, the project may not qualify for additional HSIP funds.

Contact HSIP staff for concurrence prior to requesting transfers.

If the cost increase is greater than 10 percent, the safety partner sponsor may be required to cover the additional cost with an alternate funding source or reduce the scope of the project.

If neither of these options are feasible, the project may be dropped from the HSIP.

Proposing HSIP Projects

Safety Project Planning

The genesis of effective and appropriate infrastructure safety improvements is identifying problems by combining crash information with engineering and local knowledge.

Aggregated motor vehicle crash data is critical information used by federal, state, and local agencies for highway safety research and studies to target limited resources.

VDOT HSIP offers a wide variety of data analysis tools, summaries and reports about motor vehicle crashes on our OutsideVDOT site.

Contact HSIP staff to obtain access or request other data summaries or reports not published. 

To view national fatality statistics including motorists, passengers, and non-motorists (i.e. pedestrians, pedal-cyclists, etc), go to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) webpage

To conduct network screening to identify locations with Potential for Safety Improvement (PSI), VDOT has developed Virginia-specific highway Safety Performance Functions (SPF) using the latest Highway Safety Manual (HSM) methods.   

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Safety Analyst also documents the use of SPFs for network screening.

Virginia’s SPFs, based on major and minor road traffic volumes, were developed for VDOT-maintained intersections with different traffic control and number of roadway approaches.

VDOT-maintained highway segment traffic volume based SPFs are available for different access-control, cross-sections, and number of lanes for freeways.

Locations that have more crashes than expected based on the SPF have a PSI value greater than zero.

PSIs indicate engineering review is recommended for possible mitigating countermeasures. 

PSIs are published by VDOT district in the Highway Safety Analysis Results and Mapping OutsideVDOT folders.

HSIP also publishes crash-frequency-based network screening for the SHSP emphasis areas of roadway departure, intersection, speed, and bicycle and pedestrian related crashes. 

Ranked listing and GIS maps (KMZ files) are generated for VDOT-maintained routes in each jurisdiction.

The combination of PSI and frequency (threshold) crash information is beneficial for defining systemic safety improvements.

This information is presently being updated and is available upon request of HSIP staff.

In 2014, FHWA completed analysis of roadway departure crash threshold route segment analysis for different systemic countermeasures to mitigate target crash types. 

A data user guide, Excel spreadsheet and KMZ maps of 17 countermeasure-targeted roadway segments are provided in the special studies folder. 

Further, HSIP publishes (as PDFs) compiled annual crash statistics for each VDOT-maintained system (interstate, primary and secondary) in the historical information folder on OutsideVDOT.

Contact HSIP staff for access to OutsideVDOT.

Highway Safety Data / Analysis Site and Crash Data Folder

The Tableau-Crash Analysis Tool (T-CAT) is a user friendly tool which has been developed in-house by VDOT's Traffic Engineering Division, Highway Safety Section.

The tool is mainly targeted to highway safety professionals who are conducting engineering and traffic safety studies, including segment and intersection analyses. 

Tableau’s rapid-fire business intelligence provides a fast, easy way to make visual analytics available to everyone.

Project Scoping and Priorities

VDOTs HSIP guidelines provides safety project countermeasure resource materials and website links to aid in project scoping.

The FHWA web site provides information on scoping “spot” and route segment (corridor) projects that are typically supported by economic evaluation of the safety benefits and costs as required by VDOT below.

The FHWA web site on systemic safety improvements identifies locations based on a minimum target crash type threshold, such as two severe crashes per year, or identified risk factors, such as intersection on curves. 

NCHRP Report 500 series documents and the Report 600 human factors guidelines for road systems also provide information needed to scope potential countermeasures. 

Contact HSIP should there be a question of the type of engineering study recommended for a single location versus systemic deployment of lower-cost treatments.

Our safety partners should prepare the required engineering safety assessments, studies, sketches, cost estimates, schedules and economic analysis to submit for future highway and non-motorized safety project consideration. 

Localities and VDOT districts are required to submit a prioritized list of potential HSIP projects based on the schedule year for each phase for the available SYIP funding.

Note that additional information, analysis and improvement documentation may be requested during the HSIP review of the proposals.  

Submission Requirements

All safety proposals submitted for considerations must use the Smart Portal and follow the Highway Safety Improvement Program Implementation Guidelines.

Contact SmartPortal@CTB.Virginia.gov or the VDOT Central Office Traffic Engineering Division's  Highway Safety Improvement program team to obtain log in credentials.

Summary of submission requirements for proposed HSIP improvement projects:

Highway Safety Program [1] Systemic Safety Improvement [4]
Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Program [2]
Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety Program [3]

General section: Enter contact information, general location, general project description, roadway description, study period, etc.

Location section: Locate the study area by placing polygon or line or dot. Applicant may use more than one polygon or line or dot to locate multiple study area if necessary.

Improvement section: Detail the name of the proposed improvement, compute the economic cost of each proposed improvement and compute the economic benefit of each improvement.

Highway Safety Program, Systemic Safety Improvement

Supporting document section:

Attach any supporting documents that will strengthen or validate the HSP application. Upload professional engineer-signed safety study of new highway or traffic control device elements.

Crash history section:

Enter primary crash categories by severity type. Enter secondary crash categories by severity type. Enter the number of years and enter the discount rate.

Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Program

Supporting document section:

Attach any supporting documents that will strengthen or validate the HSP application. Upload professional engineer- signed safety assessment study of new highway or traffic control device elements. Upload related studies and support documents, resolution of support, etc.

Problem identification section:

Explain the safety issues and document the risk exposure.

Local support section:

Describe any local or citizen support.

Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety Program

Supporting document section:

Attach any supporting documents that will strengthen or validate the HSP application. Upload professional engineer-signed safety assessment study of new highway or traffic control device elements. Upload related studies and support documents.

Crash Report (FR300):

A Department of Motor Vehicles police crash report document number is required for all HSIP proposals having associated crash data. Upload a list of document numbers either in Microsoft Word or Excel formats.

Highway Safety Program, Systemic Safety Improvement

Turning movement counts for intersection improvements (short periods acceptable).

Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Program

Pedestrian counts are preferred. Gap studies for new crossings.

Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety Program

Not applicable.

[1] or [4] Although not presently required by FHWA, a HRRR set aside of HSP would be used on functional classes below rural major collectors and thus require the same B / C analysis. Analysis of the associated fatality rate must be completed to determine future allocations.
[2] BPS Proposal safety studies may be submitted based on risk and / or crash reduction. If crashes involving non-motorized users or trains have occurred, the documented crash reports should be submitted.
[3] HRGC Proposal safety studies may be submitted based on risk and / or crash reduction. If crashes involving non-motorized users or trains have occurred, the documented crash reports should be submitted.
Also, follow the Application Portal Process (HSP-BPSP-SSI-RAIL):  Work Flow

HSP Proposed Safety Improvements Form

For HSP-proposed improvements, the project description and the B / C spreadsheet are combined into one Excel spreadsheet to facilitate the electronic transmission of the submitted study. 

For more detail information’s on BPSP program, see Highway Safety Improvement Program Implementation Guidelines chapter 3.

The revised Fiscal Years 2019-24 HSP proposed safety improvement spreadsheet is to be used for both highway intersection and section projects.

New HSP form to calculate Benefit/Cost Ratio:

Chapter 3 for Highway Safety Program has been updated.

New guidance on using crash modification factors (CMF) and the CMF clearinghouse is provided.

 Also, a new method for compiling crash information and assessing the B / C ratio economic evaluation is documented for the Fiscal Year 2019 HSP form.

Look for HSIP webinars listed above.

Improvements that provide expected crash modifications (reductions) resulting in a B/C greater than 1.0 are eligible for HSIP funding. However, a high B/C does not guarantee funding. Other factors such as the total and targeted severe crashes, validity of improvement countermeasure; project cost and the time frame to complete the project are also considered to prioritize the eligible improvements.

Do not email other large electronic documents with supporting information. Send copies of large documents via U.S. Mail with the signed proposed safety improvement form and the signed and sealed engineering study or road safety audit (RSA).


Road Safety Audit (RSA)

An RSA is defined as a more formal examination of existing highways or design projects, in which a team of independent and multidisciplinary examiners analyzes the site crash history and develops potential safety countermeasures. 

RSAs are identified as critical strategies to address engineering improvements for several of the environmental emphasis areas, such as intersection and roadway departure crashes.

Per the FAST Act, RSAs are one type of non-infrastructure activity that is eligible for HSIP funds ((23 U.S.C. 148(a)(4)(B)(xxi)).

VDOT will use the RSA process to continue to reduce the number of severe and fatal crashes by proactively identifying existing and potential safety issues and providing recommended improvements.

Submission requirement documents :

Proposed Safety Improvement Forms

Highway Safety Program (HSP)

Bike and Pedestrian Safety Program (BPSP)

Non-motorized transportation safety is improved by reducing risk from exposure to motorized vehicles both in time and space on the highway network. 

For more details on BPSP program, follow the Highway Safety Improvement Program implementation guidelines chapter 4.

To help localities identify and prioritize locations for improvement, review the report Framework for Selection and Evaluation of Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Projects in Virginia.

The report was prepared by the Virginia Transportation Research Council to determine best practices for targeting safety resources for these vulnerable highway users.

Systemic Safety Improvement (SSI)

The primary objective of the SSI is to address crash types that are not identified through crash frequency. It is a systemic approach that targets / identifies locations where risk is greatest regardless of crashes.

The SSI process provides a consistent framework for addressing risk using the HSP process, by focusing on identifying system-wide roadway safety concerns, and strategies to address these concerns.

For more information’s on SSI follow the Highway Safety Improvement Program Implementation Guidelines section 3.1.1. Also, visit the FHWA Systemic Safety Project Selection Tool.

Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety Program (H-RGCP)

The primary objective of the H-RGCP is to provide funding for the elimination of hazards at public railway-highway crossings in Virginia.

Fifty percent of a state's apportionment under 23 USC 130(e) is dedicated for the installation of protective devices at crossings.

The remainder of the funds apportionment can be used for any hazard elimination project, including protective devices.

For more detailed information on the H-RGCP program, follow the Highway Safety Improvement Program Implementation Guidelines chapter 5.

Contact Mike Wray (Michael.Wray@VDOT.Virginia.gov) before submitting your proposal(s) so the railroad company / crossing owner may be contacted to inquire about surface maintenance schedules in your area. 

Rail projects may be proposed using the cost estimate provided on the submittal form. 

Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) Program Assessment Report

FHWA conducted a program assessment workshop, along with VDOT and other safety stakeholders, on March 27, 2017.

The self-assessment tool provides a mechanism for agencies to evaluate HSIP implementation efforts and do a compliance check of the HSIP program policies and guidance.

The assessment also includes the Rail Highway Grade Crossing program. Detailed information: VDOT HSIP Program Assessment Report

Proposed Safety Improvement Submittals and Contacts for Information 

Assistant Division Administrator – Safety

Mark Cole, P.E., 804-786-4196

Submit questions regarding VDOT’s HSIP to HSIProgram@VirginiaDOT.org

HSIP staff is available to discuss safety analysis and planning, roadway safety assessments and project proposals.

Stephen Read, P.E.


Tracy Turpin, P.E.         

In-Kyu Lim, P.E.

David Rush

HSIP planning manager

HSIP project delivery program manager

HSIP crash and data analysis program manager

Work zone safety program manager

Traffic Engineering Division
Virginia Department of Transportation
1401 E. Broad St.
Richmond, Virginia, 23219
Fax: 804-225-2448

Page last modified: Jan. 25, 2018