Road Safety Audit is a systematic process for checking the road safety implications of highway improvements and new road schemes. The sole objective of the process is to minimize future road accident occurrence and severity once the scheme has been built and the road comes into use..
The auditor needs to take into account all road users, particularly vulnerable users such as pedestrians and pedal cyclists.
With these safety objectives in mind, the auditors need to ask the question “who can be hurt here and in what way?”
Having identified potential road safety problems, the auditor then makes recommendations for improvement. The client proceeds by studying the report, and deciding which recommendations to accept, and therefore to adopt within the scheme design and construction.
The importance of Road Safety Audit
Road Safety Auditing is a specialist process that must be carried out independently of design and construction work. Road Safety Audits are intended to ensure that operational road safety experience is applied during the design and construction process in order that the number and severity of collisions are kept to a minimum.
Road Safety Audits fulfil a vital role in checking that roads have been designed and built to the highest safety standards. A well carried out Road Safety Audit adds value to a highway scheme at every level.
The different stages of Road Safety Audit
Where road safety audit is applied to a highway scheme, it shall be undertaken at each of the following stages:
Stage 1 Completion of preliminary design
Stage 1 Road Safety Audits are required to be undertaken at the completion of preliminary design before the publications of draft orders and for development-led Highway Improvement Schemes, before planning consent, where possible.
For a Stage 1 Road Safety Audit all team members visit together:
- the sites of Highway Improvement Schemes that involve permanent change to the existing highway layout or features
- the sites where new offline Highway Improvement Schemes tie-in to the existing highway
Stage 2 Completion of detailed design (or combined Stage 1 and 2)
Stage 2 Road Safety Audit is undertaken at the completion of detailed design. The audit team focuses on the more detailed aspects of the highway scheme.
If, for any reason, a Stage 1 Road Safety Audit has not been carried out (for example, where a scheme is of such a scale that no preliminary design has been necessary and the scheme has progressed directly to detailed design), Stages 1 and 2 should be combined at detailed design. This should be referred to as a combined Stage 1 and 2 Audit.
For a Stage 2 Road Safety Audit, the Audit Team consider the layout of junctions, position of signs, carriageway markings, lighting provision and other issues such as drainage, pavements, kerbing and landscaping.
Stage 3 Completion of construction
The Stage 3 Road Safety Audit should be undertaken when the Highway Improvement Scheme is substantially complete and preferably before the works are opened to road users.
All Highway Improvement schemes should be subjected to a Stage 3 Road Safety Audit within one month of opening.
The Audit Team examine the scheme from the point of view of all road users and may decide to drive, walk and/or cycle through the scheme. A Stage 3 Road Safety Audit is visited during daylight hours and during the hours of darkness, so that hazards particular to night operation can be identified.
Stage 4 Post opening monitoring
During the first year a Highway Improvement Scheme is open to traffic, a check should be kept on the number of personal injury accidents that occur, so that any serious problems can be identified and rectified immediately.
The Stage 4 Road Safety Audit is an evidence-led review of road traffic collisions that have occurred in the vicinity of the highway scheme. The Stage 4 is carried out using 12 months of validated post highway scheme-opening road traffic collision data.
The Road Safety Audit identifies any road safety problems indicated by the data analysis and observations made during the site visits. The road safety audit reports make recommendations for remedial action which are sent to the client for action.