Road Safety Audits

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What is a Road Safety Audit?

- A Road Safety Audit (RSA) is a formal safety performance examination of an existing or future road or intersection by an independent audit team.
- The RSA team considers the safety of all road users, qualitatively estimates and reports on safety issues and opportunities for safety improvement.

Background RSAs

- New York DOT reports a 20% to 40% reduction in crashes at more than 300 high crash locations treated with low‐cost improvements recommended as a result of RSAs.
- Performing an RSA early in the RSA project lifecycle results in less implementation cost (see figure)

RSA Project Lifecycle

Difference Between RSA and Traditional Safety Review - TEAM

RSA: Performed by a team independent of the project; Performed by a multidisciplinary tram.
Traditional: The safety review team is usually not completely independent of the design team; Typically performed by a team with only design and/or safety expertise

Difference Between RSA and Traditional Safety Review - CONSIDERATION

RSA: Considers all potential road users; Accounting for road user capabilities and limitations is an essential element of an RSA
Traditional: Often concentrates on motorized traffic; Safety reviews do not normally consider human factors

Difference Between RSA and Traditional Safety Review - REPORT

RSA: Always generates a formal RSA report; A formal response report is an essential element of an RSA
Traditional: Often does not generate a formal (response) report

Typical RSA Steps

Step 1: Identify project or road in-service to be audited
Step 2: Select RSA team
Step 3: Conduct a pre-audit meeting to review project information
Step 4: Perform field observations under various conditions
Step 5: Conduct audit analysis and prepare report of findings
Step 6: Present audit findings to Project Owner/Design Team
Step 7: Project Owner/Design Team prepares formal response
Step 8: Incorporate findings into the project when appropriate

Essential Elements of an RSA

1. Formal Examination (proposed or existing roadway)
2. Team Review (at least 3; design, traffic, maintenance, construction, safety, local officials, enforcement, first‐ responders, human factors)
3. Independent RSA Team (not the design team)
4. Qualified Team
5. Focus on Road Safety Issues (don’t focus on standards)
6. Includes All Road Users
7. Proactive Nature
8. Qualitative Nature (lists of issues, relative assessment of risk)
9. Field Reviews (day versus night)

RSA Phases

Pre-construction RSAs
Construction RSAs
Post-construction RSAs
Development Project RSAs

(more major issues as move up list, less opportunity for design changes as more down list)

RSA Stages of Pre-construction RSAs

Planning
Preliminary Design
Detailed Design

RSA Stages of Construction RSAs

Work Zone Stage
Construction Stage
Pre-Opening

RSA Stages of Post-construction RSAs

Existing Roads

RSA Stages of Development Project RSAs

Land Use Development

Step 1: Identify project or road in-service to be audited

As a result of this step, the project or existing road to be audited is determined and the parameters for a RSA are set.

Step 2: Select RSA team

As a result of this step, an independent, qualified, and multidisciplinary team of experts suitable for the specific RSA stage is selected.

Step 3: Conduct a pre-audit meeting to review project information

The meeting brings together the project owner, the design team and the audit team to discuss the context and scope of the RSA and review all project information available.

Step 4: Perform field observations under various conditions

The objective of project data review is to gain insight into the project or existing road, prepare for the field visit and identify areas of safety concerns. The field visit is used to get further insight into the project or existing road and to further verify/identify areas of safety concern.

Step 5: Conduct audit analysis and prepare report of findings

As a result of this step, the safety issues are identified and prioritized and suggestions are made for reducing the degree of safety risk. The RSA results are then succinctly summarized in the formal RSA report.

Step 6: Present audit findings to Project Owner/Design Team

In this step, audit team orally reports the key RSA findings to the project owner and design team in order to facilitate the understanding of RSA findings.

Step 7: Project Owner/Design Team prepares formal response

Once submitted, the formal response becomes an essential part of the project documentation. It outlines what actions the project owner and/or design team will take in response to each safety issue listed in the RSA report and why some of the RSA suggestions could not be implemented.

Step 8: Incorporate findings into the project when appropriate

This final step ensures that the corrective measures outlined in the response report are completed as described and in the time frame documented.

Road Safety Specialist

The individual should have recognized expertise in the understanding of causal factors that lead to crashes and effective treatments that would address the occurrence of such crashes. The person should be actively involved in conducting road safety audits or evaluations.

Traffic Operations Engineer

The individual should be qualified in the field of traffic operations and know the principles of traffic flow, the relationship between capacity and demand, and what causes congestion. This person should have an understanding of the proper placement and use of signs, pavement markings, traffic signal operations and the impact of different treatments on traffic operations. A traffic operations engineer may be critical for urban projects where congestion is more of an issue.

Road Design Engineer

The individual should have extensive road design experience and be familiar with Federal, State, and local standards in road design. They should understand how different roadway and roadside elements contribute to the relative safety of road users, including both vehicular traffic and vulnerable road users (such as pedestrians and bicyclists), and be familiar with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements for road facilities that will be used by pedestrians.

Local Contact Person

The individual should be familiar with the area under review and the traffic safety issues experienced there. A police officer would be ideal to fill this role.

Other areas of specialty

Specialists in human factors, maintenance, enforcement, first response, pedestrian and bicycle treatments, transit operations, ITS, etc. could be called in to provide specific input in their areas of expertise.

Sample outline of a RSA report

1.0 Introduction
2.0 Background
3.0 Findings and suggestions
4.0 Formal statement

1.0 Introduction

-Scope and purpose of RSA .
-Identification of project stage or existing road or, items reviewed and not reviewed.
-Project limits.

2.0 Background

-Audit team, affiliation and qualifications.
-Commentary on data received from project owner and design team.
-General observations regarding site visit.

3.0 Findings and suggestions

Safety Issue 1 - Description of issue, evaluation of safety risk, suggestions.
Safety Issue 2 - etc.

4.0 Formal statement

concluding statement signed by RSA team members indicating that they have participated in the RSA and agreed or reached consensus on its findings.