Safety Analysis Tools
Improving the safety of our nation’s transportation system for all users is a priority for USDOT. Many of the discretionary grant programs available provide planning or capital funding to support safety improvements or consider improvements to safety as part of the project rating and review process.
Including national, state, and local data can help to elevate critical safety needs within a community and provide statistics that can strongly demonstrate the need for and benefits of a proposed project.
The tools on this page can help analyze and convey safety benefits, risks, and overall impact of a proposed project.
NRSS StoryMap: Our Nation’s Roadway Safety Crisis
The National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS) StoryMap Our Nation’s Roadway Safety Crisis is set of visualizations illustrates the significant impact of motor vehicle deaths in our communities. The information uses a national dataset of all fatal motor vehicle crashes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to document people who lost their lives on our roadways, including drivers, passengers, and people outside of vehicles who are walking, biking, and rolling.
Each of the five visualizations shows a different, interactive way to think about roadway safety.
User Guide: For help using the story map, visit Some Quick Tips Before You Explore.
Identifies: Hotspots can show the areas that have experienced a high concentration of fatal roadway crashes. The maps allow you to explore the relationship between the fatality rate and population.
Crash Modification Factors (CMF) Clearinghouse
Incorporating Crash Modification Factors Clearinghouse data into a grant application can help quantify the projected benefits of a proposed project. A Crash Modification Factor (CMF) estimates a safety countermeasure’s ability to reduce crashes and crash severity. Transportation professionals frequently use CMF values to identify countermeasures with the greatest safety benefit for a particular crash type or location. Practitioners can use this process to identify a CMF for each prospective countermeasure and to inform countermeasure selection. For road-based improvements, estimating the change in the number of fatalities, injuries, and amount of property damage can be done using CMFs, which relate different types of safety improvements to crash outcomes.
User Information: The Quick Start Guide to Using CMFs provides a 2-page overview of the process of selecting Crash Modification Factor for prospective countermeasures and applying the CMFs to estimate safety benefits. Through extensive research by USDOT and other organizations, hundreds of CMF estimates are available and posted in the online CMF Clearinghouse sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration.
Identifies: CMFs are estimated by analyzing crash data and relating outcomes to different types of road improvements or safety treatments. This allows for more informed decision making and better targeting of investments.
Limitations and Notes: Common impediments when using CMFs include too many CMFs, too few CMFs, or two or more recommending treatments resulting in categories that may need to be broken down into subcategories.
Crash Report Sampling System (CRSS)
The Crash Report Sampling System (CRSS) provides a sample of police-reported crashes involving all types of motor vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists, ranging from property-damage-only crashes to those that result in fatalities. CRSS is used to estimate the overall crash picture, identify highway safety problem areas, measure trends, drive consumer information initiatives, and form the basis for cost and benefit analyses of highway safety initiatives and regulations.
NHTSA’s crash data collection program consists of CRSS, the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), the Crash Investigation Sampling System (CISS), Special Crash Investigations (SCI), Non-Traffic Surveillance (NTS), the Crash Injury Research and Engineering Network (CIREN), and special studies conducted to address various safety topics.
Also, note that CRSS data is a newer version to the General Estimates System (GES), which was discontinued in 2016. This is notable since benefit-cost analyses in DOT grant applications often require demonstrating historical trends. The pre-2016 data can be found by visiting the National Automotive Sampling System (NASS) General Estimates System page.
User Information: For more information on CRSS data collection and coding, visit the CRSS What It Is page.
Identifies: The data collected by CRSS can be used for a variety of purposes including assessing the overall state of highway safety and identifying existing and emerging highway safety trends; understanding the national picture regarding key safety priorities such as impaired driving, restraint use, and crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists; establishing an estimate of the number of people injured in motor vehicle-related crashes annually; and assessing the effectiveness of motor vehicle safety standards and highway safety programs.
Limitations and Notes: After all personal identifiers are removed, information collected by CRSS is made available to other federal agencies; state and local governments; universities; research institutions; the automobile, trucking, and insurance industries; and the public.
Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)
The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) provides a useful nationwide source for data on roadway fatalities and includes yearly data regarding fatal injuries suffered in motor vehicle traffic crashes. The dataset also allows users to visualize and explore county level maps, crash locations, interactive dashboards, and show interactions between FARS attributes. Datasets include information on pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities. This dataset is geared towards practitioners for data analysis.
User Information: Additional facts sheets on FARS data are available to guide users through the interactive dashboards and visualizations of data.
Identifies: Can be used to identify areas for deployment of expanded public access, safety, and project acceleration.
Limitations and Notes: Where an applicant is completing a BCA narrative and is using local safety data that may not be consistent with FARS, it is helpful to explain any reasons for such discrepancies. Also note, the datasets can be extremely large.
Fatality and Injury Reporting System Tool (FIRST)
The Fatality and Injury Reporting System Tool (FIRST) is a query tool that allows a user to construct customized queries from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the Crash Report Sampling System (CRSS) that can be incorporated into a grant application. Grant applications, including for programs like Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A), can benefit from utilizing this type of data.
The FIRST tool generates trends of crash statistics in the form of tables, charts, and GIS maps that can also be useful for project development and planning purposes, or as appendices to reports or applications.
User Guide: For information on how to use the query tool, view the FIRST User Guide.
Identifies: This tool generates local, statewide, and national crash trends that can be used to support systemic safety analyses to identify focus crash types and risk factors. It can be used to inform and analyze safety investments and systemic safety improvements.
Limitations and Notes: There is a 1- to 2-year lag on more recent data due to processing.
Roadway Safety Data Dashboards
The Roadway Safety Data Dashboards are a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) tool that is designed to give state and local highway agencies access to roadway fatality data in an easy-to-use interface. Understanding which dataset and definitions the dashboards draw from is critical to understanding the dashboard you create.
User Information: Visit Understanding Safety Data Dashboards for more information on sources of data and how to build a dashboard.
Identifies: Fatality datasets are large and complex. Dashboards convert these data into familiar graphical displays that make it easier for the viewer to see trends and to make comparisons between states, metropolitan planning organizations, and regions.
Disclaimer: This curated list of federal data and mapping tools is maintained on the DOT Navigator website as a secondary source and does not supersede primary materials issued by each USDOT Operating Administration. USDOT does not promote one resource over another. Accordingly, please work directly with the USDOT Operating Administration managing the BIL discretionary grant program for specific guidance.