New this year, highway safety targets for the region

A new Federal requirement means the region has to report highway safety targets this year. The TPB will be considering recommended targets at its January meeting. (Bossi/Flickr)

As part of new federal requirements for Performance Based Planning and Programming, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) like the TPB must collect and report data about highway safety for the region.

New for MPOs

This is new for the TPB. Although states have collected highway safety data before, the new federal rules create common definitions for the measures across the country. Previously, MPOs were not required to report this data. These new rules require them to do so, with the aim of giving regional decisionmakers better tools for assessing safety at a regional scale.

This means that MPOs and states must report both the number and rate of fatalities and injuries on the roads. They are also required to report the number of pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities and serious injuries. The absolute numbers help identify trends, while looking at rates helps account for underlying population growth.

The performance measures:

  • Number of fatalities: The total number of fatalities during a calendar year. The measure uses a 5-year rolling average.
  • Rate of fatalities per 100 million Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT): This is the ratio of total fatalities to VMT. This is also a 5-year rolling average.
  • Rate of serious injuries per 100 million VMT: This is the ratio of total serious injuries to VMT.
  • Number of non-motorized fatalities and serious injuries: This is the total number of fatalities and serious injuries occurring during a calendar year.

Realistic not aspirational

These safety targets need to be realistic not aspirational. The numbers will allow the region to predict how its efforts may affect the numbers of serious injuries or death on the roads. Realistic numbers also provide a way to invest in resources towards needed interventions to have the biggest reduction in death and serious injury. This does not prevent TPB member jurisdictions from adopting “Vision Zero” or “Towards Zero Deaths” policies, as many have already done. Those aspirational goals serve a different purpose—to provide policymakers and the public a framework or mission to work towards.

A multi-state region needs a hybrid approach

The TPB has turned to its state partners to learn about best practices in reporting on safety data. To ensure that the information from the states and the region match, TPB staff have recommended targets that bring together the targets from the District of Columbia, and the suburban parts of Maryland and Virginia into one set of regional targets.

This approach applies Maryland’s method to the Maryland parts of the region, Virginia’s approach the Virginia parts of the region, and incorporates the District of Columbia targets as a sub target for the District portion of the region. All of these sub-targets can be combined to create one overall target for the region.


Staff recommended a combined approach by applying the MD method to MD parts of the region, the VA method to VA parts of the region , and incorporates DC targets as a sub target. These sub-targets can be combined to create one overall target for the region. These are draft recommendations pending TPB action at its January 17 meeting. (TPB)

TPB staff are taking feedback from the board and the TPB Technical Committee. Next, the TPB will be taking up these targets for approval at its January 17 meeting.

MORE: Read the memo from the January TPB Technical Committee meeting.


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