Research Papers

Road Safety Workforce Development in the United States

Filename 1C_2_Herbel_Paper.pdf
Filesize 678 KB
Version 1
Date added June 26, 2017
Downloaded 6 times/fois
Category 2017 CARSP XXVII Toronto
Tags Research and Evaluation, Session 1C
Author/Auteur Susan Herbel
Stream/Volet Research and Evaluation

Slidedeck Presentation




"The road safety profession is undergoing an evolution as increasing emphasis is placed on managing the safety performance of the highway system and scientific and statistically sound approaches increasingly are available. AASHTO and the states have developed Strategic Highway Safety Plans, the profile of safety has been raised in recent US federal transportation authorizing legislation, and safety has been made a core focus area of the USDOT. The advancement of the quality and rigor in the safety tools further deepens the safety-related education requirements of transportation professionals.

Core safety knowledge and skills are often obtained on the job. Universities do not offer a systems level road safety curriculum, and few places exist where agencies can recruit trained safety professionals. This finding questions the ability of agencies to meet the public's expectations for improvements in road safety. The need for a prepared transportation workforce to manage the increased attention on highway safety and make appropriate use of the resources has been well-documented.
Providing road safety education to support decision-making to impact road safety is challenging because building road safety workforce capacity has been a largely ad hoc and unstructured. Attempts to operationalize these core competencies have not come to fruition.


1. Conducted a literature review to document work on road safety workforce development.
2. Identified safety-related education needs for employees by work unit and functional role.
3. Identified potential resources that can be used to meet these needs as well as gaps or other deficiencies.
4. Produced a matrix of safety-related education needs.
5. Facilitated a peer exchange with representation from agencies attempting to improve safety workforce capacity.
6. Vetted the research results broadly throughout the US road safety community.

The results of the research process are expected to produce a comprehensive approach to road safety training and education for safety practitioners responsible for road safety.


1. Ascertained the current level of knowledge on road safety workforce development and identify inconsistencies and gaps.
2. Identified current training materials and opportunities addressing the core competencies.
3. Interviewed DOT key positions (professionals, technicians, and laborers), to document current practice in employee capacity building, learn how safety is currently taken into account within functional areas, and develop core competencies.
4. Utilized interview information to build safety core competencies matched to key positions; identify education/training needs.
5. Communicated with faculty in relevant areas to discuss opportunities for incorporating the core competencies.
6. Developed a road safety orientation and briefing package to educate management.
7. Identified key points to share and promote with the professional member associations.
8. Facilitated a peer review among participants in the US road safety profession to update the findings and close gaps.
9. Vetted the research results broadly within the US road safety community.


1. An education guide for training road safety engineers.
2. A learning matrix documenting the safety education needs.
3. Identification of road safety research and development needs.
4. Documentation of currently available resources.
5. An implementation plan for operationalizing the results.


The research phase of the project is far from complete, but most key elements have been documented: general consensus on education and training requirements; additional research needs; methods for attaining the resources necessary for developing the materials, etc.


We are submitting this abstract for presentation at CARSP to facilitate a discussion of the research results and collect experiences, opinions, and recommendations from our Canadian colleagues. "

Susan Herbel