Model Curriculum for Highway Safety Core Competencies

The highway safety field draws upon engineering, economics, public law and policy, law enforcement, psychology/human factors, social marketing, medicine, public health, administration, education, statistics, and physics, among others. It is a specialized field created by the landmark Highway Safety Act of 1966. Many of the professionals drawn into the field during the early days have retired or soon will be retiring. The need for professionals to replace them is a serious challenge, and the means of recruiting, educating, and training future highway safety professionals are inadequate. It is also necessary to provide education and training for existing professionals to enhance their highway safety background and/or knowledge. A workshop organized by Institute of Transportation Engineers, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials through the Standing Committee on Highway Traffic Safety, Federal Highway Administration, and the Transportation Research Board in 2002 clearly defined the seriousness and critical nature of the problem. At the 2003 TRB Annual Meeting, a Joint Subcommittee on Safety Workforce Development was formed to address the issue. To gain a better understanding of the problem, a scan of university highway safety education and training programs was conducted. The scan revealed a lack of broad-based multidisciplinary safety educational offerings at the advanced undergraduate and graduate levels. A more thorough survey of universities found that while there were 6 to 10 programs with graduate offerings, they were typically a single course and did not represent the depth and breadth of coverage needed for educating highway safety professionals. In light of the findings from that scan, a set of "core competencies" for highway safety professionals was developed (see NCHRP Research Results Digest 302). The core competencies for highway safety professionals are intended to provide a broad framework for educating new safety professionals and training the existing workforce. They represent the fundamental set of knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to effectively function as a professional in highway traffic safety. As such, they establish the foundation considered to be necessary for effective performance by all safety professionals, including those specializing in engineering, analysis, public policy, road user behavior, injury prevention and control, and safety management. To effectively recruit, educate, and train future highway safety professionals and members of the existing work force, there is a need to transform these core competencies into a curriculum that can be applied in various educational and training settings. This instructional tool will guide the delivery of effective training and educational programs for existing and future highway safety professionals. The objectives of this research are to (1) develop a model education and training curriculum, based on, but not limited to, the core competencies outlined in NCHRP Research Results Digest 302; (2) conduct a pilot test of the curriculum in an appropriate setting; and (3) develop guidelines for curriculum deployment covering multiple educational and training settings. The research is proposed in two phases. Phase I will review and update the core competencies and learning objectives, establish the organizational structure of the curriculum (segmented into individual modules), produce storyboards for the entire curriculum, and fully develop one module. Phase 1 also involves development of a methodology for curriculum evaluation of a single pilot of the module. Phase II will develop the remaining modules, conduct and evaluate the pilot test, and develop guidelines for implementation of the curriculum in various education and training settings.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 17-40

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  USA  20590

    American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials

    444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 225
    Washington, DC    20001

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  USA  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Niessner, Charles

  • Performing Organizations:

    Cambridge Systematics, Incorporated

    100 Cambridge Park Drive
    Suite 4000
    Cambridge, MA  USA  02140-2369
  • Principal Investigators:

    Herbel, Susan

  • Start Date: 20070404
  • Actual Completion Date: 20100630
  • Source Data: RiP Project 21757

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01464229
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: National Cooperative Highway Research Program
  • Contract Numbers: Project 17-40
  • Files: TRB, RiP, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jan 3 2013 2:38PM