Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Agriculture and Extension Education and Evaluation

Document Type



The primary purpose of this study was to determine the core competencies needed by State DOT Highway Safety Engineers as perceived by Highway Safety experts in the United States. First, a list of competencies was identified. Next, a panel of Highway Safety experts determined the importance of each identified competency for the current year (2020) and for the future (year 2030). Finally, ratings provided by the panel were tested for the presence of consensus.

For this study, the researcher used a Delphi Method as classified by Delbecq, Van de Ven, and Gaustafson (1975). Through this method, a panel of forward-thinking experts in the field of Highway Safety were surveyed to find consensus of important and needed technical competencies for current and future Highway Safety Engineers (Gupta & Clarke, 1996). Through three rounds, these panel members were able to suggest and rate competencies, with the option to provide any feedback they deemed necessary.

Based on previous literature, a review of various professional organizations, and extensive interviews, 50 competencies were generated. During Round 1, this list of competencies was sent to identified highway safety experts across the U.S. and asked, “Is this competency important for Highway Safety Engineers for the year 2020 (or 2030)?” Here, the panel suggested edits to 9 currently listed competencies and defined 18 additional competencies. In Round 2, participants rated all 68 competencies on a five-point anchored scale. In Round 3, the panel was provided the median scores for each competency listed in Round 2 and asked to keep or change their rating to match the group’s rating and provide any justification as necessary.

At the conclusion of Round 3, all competencies were listed as achieving consensus as established a’ priori at greater than 50% indicating a set of core competencies essential to the role of Highway Safety engineers in the year 2020 and 2030. Since the panel was shown to be effective and forward-thinking in their views, the researcher recommends state DOTs and national organizations involved in trainings regarding highway safety engineers move toward the inclusion of all competencies rated substantial or high importance in required training.



Committee Chair

Burnett, Michael F.