Highway Safety Improvement Program: What To Know

The Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) is a major component of federal funding for transportation. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) adopted in 2021 increased funding to HSIP by nearly 30%, providing nearly $3 Billion to states for fiscal year 2022.

One of the most exciting policy changes from the BIL for biking and walking safety is that states are now required to spend at least 15% of HSIP funds on biking and walking safety when bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities are 15% or more of traffic fatalities. The table below shows computations from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) of 15% of HSIP for every state.

While every state can spend HSIP funding on biking and walking safety, only some states will be required to spend 15% or more. In 2020, states obligated more than $165 million in HSIP funds to 313 projects focused on bicyclist and pedestrian safety. New York, Massachusetts, and Puerto Rico spend 20% or more of their HSIP funds on biking and walking safety before there was any requirement. According to the rule for HSIP spending, whether a state must spend HSIP on biking and walking safety will be determined every year based on annual fatality data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The map below shows states where bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities were 15% or more of traffic fatalities in 2020.

In order to spend HSIP funds, each state must develop a strategic highway safety plan (SHSP) that identifies and analyzes highway safety problems and opportunities, and produces a program of projects or strategies to reduce identified safety problems. Strategies are typically identified under emphasis areas that describe areas of emphasis for safety improvements in each state. The table below shows whether bicycle and pedestrian safety are emphasis areas in your state, and the most common safety strategies.

Many states choose to use HSIP funds to implement FHWA’s Proven Safety Countermeasures. Recently, bicycle lanes (including protected bike lanes), crosswalk visibility enhancements, lighting, rectangular rapid flashing beacons, appropriate speed limits for all road users, and speed safety cameras were added to FHWA’s Proven Safety Countermeasures. The BIL also clarified that reducing vehicle speeds, installing or upgrading traffic signals for pedestrians and bicyclists, protected bike lanes, pedestrian crossing islands, and protected intersection features are eligible for HSIP funding.

If you want to further dig into HSIP data and how your state has implemented this important safety program, annual reports are produced and available at https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/hsip/reports/. Guidance on changes in the BIL and how HSIP supports the National Roadway Safety Strategy’s Safe System Approach are available below.

Guidance on HSIP funding under the BIL: https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/hsip/rulemaking/docs/BIL_HSIP_Eligibility_Guidance.pdf

Integrating the Safe System Approach with the Highway Safety Improvement Program: https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/hsip/docs/fhwasa2018.pdf