Safety guidance for planning studies

Consideration of safety performance should be a part of the conversation throughout plan development (continuing through programming and design).

Use this guidance to make sure your documentation and recommendations conform to the Safe System Approach and agency expectations. If you are hiring a consultant to write your planning study, consultants are also expected to be familiar with the planning study signature review process and the specific requirements for safety as well as the other M2 Team review areas. Consideration of safety performance is a critical component of any planning study analysis and considerations for recommendations and should be included in planning level cost estimates. While mobility and economic vitality driven planning studies are focused on mobility and economic vitality components, consideration, and incorporation of the performance of these components for safety performance is a requirement. Note that the baseline performance metrics for these projects are established in the WSDOT Design Manual based on the Target Zero Strategic Highway Safety Plan for Washington State: the number of fatal and serious injury crashes. Contextual safety performance metrics can be identified based on the specific study.

Before you start

  • Take the WSDOT Highway Safety Manual Training for Managers (for WSDOT Staff). Classes are held when the waiting list reaches scheduling level, approximately quarterly. Contact Ida van Schalkwyk to get on the training waiting list. Held approximately quarterly.
  • Attend an M2 Team meeting to hear the usual comments given by our subject matter experts. This will tell you what to expect and help you to make best use of the planning studies guidance written by our M2 Team members. 
  • Identify appropriate scale and scope for safety analysis in the study based on input of subject matter experts and get concurrence.

Recommended readings

Key messages

  • RCW Prioritized safety array process explained – how WSDOT defines safety needs.
  • Expectations for documentation, performance metrics, safety analysis and review.

Related resources

Slow down – lives are on the line. 

In 2023, speeding continued to be a top reason for work zone crashes.

Even one life lost is too many.

Fatal work zone crashes doubled in 2023 - Washington had 10 fatal work zone crashes on state roads.

It's in EVERYONE’S best interest.

95% of people hurt in work zones are drivers, their passengers or passing pedestrians, not just our road crews.