Safety Impact Analysis

Identifying potential safety impacts to consider for proposed land use projects under CEQA that may affect the California State Highway System


Understanding the Guidance and FAQs

Breaking down the what, when, and how

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California’s Systemic Safety Program

Gaining traction as more cities commit to holistic approaches

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A Holistic Approach to Systemic Safety

Offering communities guidance for establishing safety plans

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In December 2020, Caltrans issued Traffic Safety Bulletin 20-02-R1 announcing the release of the, “Interim Local Development Intergovernmental Review Safety Review Practitioners Guidance.” This new guidance material provides instructions to Caltrans personnel, lead agencies, developers, and consultants for conducting safety impact analysis for proposed land use projects and plans in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The guidance sets expectations for Caltrans staff and lead agencies about what information and factors to consider in safety impact analysis with a focus on potential safety impacts affecting the California State Highway System (SHS). Integrating safety in the Caltrans land development and intergovernmental review process helps to solidify a culture of safety in California through the Safe System approach.

Caltrans recommends lead agencies use similar approaches, specifically Local Roadway Safety Plans (LRSPs), Systemic Safety Analysis Reports (SSARs), and Vision Zero plans, as models for safety analysis of the local transportation network. These plans can help local jurisdictions obtain resources to improve safety in their communities, and they will now be an input to assessing the potential safety impacts of new land use projects and land use plans. The interim guidance was released to support the July 1, 2020 implementation deadline for SB 743. Final guidance is being developed by Caltrans, and the interim guidance is currently being revised in response to stakeholder input.

Understanding The Guidance

The safety analysis guidance incorporates several important aspects of transportation systems and safety:


Includes pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicle modes.

Reactive and Systemic Perspectives

Considers collision history as well as contextual collision patterns to identify potential safety risk factors and improvements.

Impacts to Disadvantaged and Vulnerable Communities

Prioritizes safety improvements in vulnerable communities where collisions are underreported, and disproportionate collision rates occur.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learning more about the guidance

When is this guidance effective?

It is effective now, and will be superseded when final guidance is released.

How will Caltrans implement this guidance?

What do I need to do for a project that is already in process?

Our CEQA and Safety experts helped Caltrans develop this new guidance, so any of them may be contacted for assistance — Ron Milam, Rod Brown, and Meghan Mitman.

How is this new guidance connected to California Senate Bill 743?

The legislative intent of SB 743 included the objective to “Ensure that environmental impacts of traffic, such as noise, air pollution, and safety concerns, continue to be properly addressed and mitigated through the California Environmental Quality Act.” Safety impact analysis is uncommon in CEQA documents, so the new guidance from Caltrans will likely change current expectations. Lead agencies will need to prepare for these new expectations in a similar manner to VMT impact analysis where they make decisions about methodology, thresholds, and feasible mitigation. In addition, the development community will need to consider the potential new challenge of having their projects associated with ‘significant’ safety impacts. Mitigation effectiveness may garner substantial attention.

How can vulnerable communities be prioritized in this process?

See the links below for background and examples.

Next Steps

Fehr & Peers is leading an ITE team to develop “Essential Components of Safety Impact Analysis,” which will provide guidance on how to apply Safe System principles to transportation impact analysis. Fehr & Peers staff Lee Reis (ITE Safety Council Secretary) and Meghan Mitman (ITE Safety Council Chair) are working with a group of ITE members to clarify how leadership and commitment, a systemic approach, and a consistent methodology can help jurisdictions reach Safe System goals as part of the evolving field of TIAs.

Are you interested in creating a systemic safety, LRSP, SSAR, or Vision Zero plan for your jurisdiction?

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