The U.S. is facing a public crisis when it comes to transportation and safety — over the last decade, more than 370,000 roadway deaths related to transportation incidents have occurred. While there is a roadway safety problem in the U.S., fatal traffic injuries are preventable, and building a safer transportation system to reduce roadway incidents across the country is possible.
In May, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) launched the Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) grant program, making $1 billion in grant funding available to U.S. local governments each fiscal year. Cities across the country will be eligible to receive funding to elevate their community’s approach to roadway safety.
Ahead of the Sept. 15, 2022, application deadline, here’s what eligible fleets need to know about the grant program and how investments in the right technology can help make an impact.
Why is the USDOT enacting the Safe Streets and Roads for All grant program?
In November 2021, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) was passed by Congress and signed into law by the president. Among many provisions, the $1.2 trillion infrastructure law provides up to $108 billion in funding for improving public transportation, the largest of such federal grants in U.S. history. Established by the BIL, the SS4A grant program provides resources that will allow cities across the U.S. to get one step closer to achieving zero traffic fatalities or serious injuries.
The SS4A initiative provides $5 billion in funds over the next five years. In fiscal year 2022 (FY22), up to $1 billion is available to cities and municipalities to use on the design and implementation of a comprehensive safety action plan, which should propose clearly defined strategies and projects that improve traffic safety in a given area, to the extent possible.
Funding from the SS4A grant can be used to make safety improvements across a wide range of infrastructure, behavioral, and operational safety programs. This includes: conducting qualitative analysis for safety-related data, lobbying policy changes within local legislation, and assessing new technology solutions, such as safety cameras or fleet telematics systems.
What types of grants are available under the SS4A program?
There are two types of grants available for funding under the SS4A program: Action Plan Grants and Implementation Grants.
For FY22 funding, an eligible applicant can apply for an Action Plan Grant or an Implementation Grant, but not both. You must complete an Action Plan first before proceeding with Implementation. Action Plan Grants provide eligible applicants with funds to develop a comprehensive safety action plan. Whereas Implementation Grants provide eligible applicants with funds to execute specific projects and strategies as detailed in an Action Plan.
What is required to apply for the SS4A grant? Who is eligible?
To be eligible to apply for an Action Plan Grant, you must be a member or belong to one of these organizations:
- Metropolitan planning organizations.
- Subdivisions of a state such as counties, cities, towns, and transit agencies or other special districts.
- Federally recognized Tribal governments.
- Multijurisdictional groups comprised of the above entities.
To apply for an Implementation Grant, eligible applicants listed above must also meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Have ownership and/or maintenance responsibilities over a roadway network.
- Be an eligible applicant with safety responsibilities that affect roadways.
- Have agreement from the agency that has ownership and/or maintenance responsibilities for the roadway within the applicant’s jurisdiction.
How do I apply for an SS4A grant?
Before applying, you'll need to decide whether you're seeking an Action Plan Grant or Implementation Grant, since the application processes are different. You can find all grant application materials on grants.gov and you can learn more about how to apply by referring to the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO).
Applications must be submitted by 5 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022.
What are the criteria the DOT considers when selecting applicants for an award?
The USDOT will conduct separate review processes for each of the Action Plan Grant and the Implementation Grant based on an applicant’s selection criteria. Local governments that are selected for SS4A awards will be announced around the end of 2022 or early 2023.
For Action Plan Grants, the USDOT will consider the following selection criteria:
- Safety impact: Strategies will likely reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries for road users in a specific location within a given timeframe.
- Equity: Strategies suggest equitable safety improvements for underserved communities in impacted zones, such as high-speed intersections and rural communities.
- Additional safety considerations: The USDOT will evaluate other considerations detailed in the proposed Action Plan such as potential technical adoption, stakeholder engagement, and budget-optimized strategies.
For Implementation Grants, the USDOT will consider the following selection criteria:
- Safety impact: Strategies will likely reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries for road users. Safety impact is the most important criteria in the review process, and is weighed more heavily to account for low-cost, high impact safety projects that affect wide areas, for data analysis that measure safety impact, and for long standing safety benefits that remain over time.
- Equity, engagement, and collaboration: Strategies suggest equitable safety improvements for underserved communities. This includes supporting key populations and aligning stakeholders across public and private sectors.
- Effective practices and strategies: Strategies further improvements in building a safer community, embodies a Safe System Approach that minimizes human mistakes, supports the Complete Streets policy by considering the safety for all road users, and adopts innovative technology.
- Climate change and sustainability, and economic competitiveness: (a) The activities as detailed in the proposed Implementation Plan contains strategies that aim for a greener transportation system by reducing the environmental impact of carbon emissions. (b) The activities as detailed in the proposed Implementation Plan creates new high-paying jobs.
How the right technology can be used to improve safety
As part of your Action Plan and/or Implementation Plan, you’ll want to leverage innovative, easy-to-use technology that can enable a more proactive approach to road safety. The right technology partner can be a key component of your SS4A journey — helping local governments secure the funding needed to establish a safety program focused on accountability. Here’s how:
- Improve visibility across your city’s fleet using AI-enabled dash cameras. You can ensure both safety and transparency with increased visibility into driver behavior — inside the vehicle and outside on the road.
- Unify your video data across tools on a single dashboard. You can reduce serious injuries and traffic fatalities by consolidating video footage across all your third-party camera solutions including dash cameras, side, rear, and interior cameras.
- Better understand speeding trends with real-time data and automate paper handling using vehicle telematics. Take a data-driven approach to safety by measuring vehicle diagnostic data and streamline file management by digitizing documents.
Technology is sure to play a critical role in the future of connected cities and improved road safety across the U.S. Taking advantage of this SS4A grant is a great first step for local governments and public sector fleets to kickstart their initiatives and keep their communities safe.