Allocating Spending between Hotspot and Systemic Approaches to Safety Management

There are more opportunities to improve safety across a highway network than funds available to implement projects. As such, safety program managers are challenged with selecting projects and allocating resources to maximize the program’s return on investment. The hotspot and systemic approaches are two complementary approaches to safety management. A common question is how to allocate funding between these two approaches to achieve the maximum return on investment, considering the objectives and relative risks of each. This paper presents a framework to consider tradeoffs of allocating funding between hotspot and systemic projects as well as when to apply each approach. The framework is based on average project costs, average project effectiveness, and average crash costs. To demonstrate the framework, this paper presents average values based on six countermeasures that represent the hotspot approach and six countermeasures that represent the systemic approach. In general, this paper uses higher-cost and higher-effectiveness projects to represent the hotspot approach and lower-cost and lower-effectiveness projects to represent the systemic approach. Based on the sample of countermeasures and data included in this paper, the average cost-effectiveness of systemic countermeasures is greater than the average cost-effectiveness of hotspot countermeasures. Although systemic countermeasures tend to be more cost-effective than hotspot countermeasures on average, there is a need to balance these two approaches. The framework could also apply to other situations, such as allocating funding between other safety programs (e.g., roadway departure and intersection safety programs) or prioritizing among project alternatives within a program (e.g., roundabouts, signals, or signing).


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  • Accession Number: 01694170
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 19-01977
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Jan 3 2019 11:46AM