Road Safety Audit, tools, procedures, and experiences: a literature review and recommendations

Research in the framework of the European research project SAFESTAR, Workpackage 8
Kooi, Ir. R.M. van der, (ed.)
Introduction This report describes tools and procedures established in different countries which apply Road Safety Audits (RSA). These RSAs are utilized to identify potential safety problems and they concentrate on safety measures to overcome these problems. This technique is used to detect possible safety hazards, in the various stages of a scheme, before a new road is open to traffic. The slogan ‘Prevention is better than cure' is already well known to us, and Road Safety Auditing can establish an association with road safety. The application of this preventive technique can prevent accidents or reduce the severity of accidents. Except for minimizing trauma, and increasing the designer's awareness of road safety, RSAs can also reduce the overall lifetime cost of a scheme, for it is less likely that remedial rebuilding of road sections will take place. Therefore this report deals with schemes subject to design and redesign of new roads, rather than existing roads. Strict application of design regulations does not always lead to a safe road for general rules don't always apply to specific situations. When applying an RSA, it improves awareness of road safety, and highlights safety among other aspects of road design. Objectives of safety audit The main objective of safety audits is to ensure that highway schemes operate as safely as possible, i.e. to minimise the number and severity of occurring accidents. This can be achieved by avoiding accidentproducing elements and by providing suitable accidentreducing elements. The purpose of safety audits is to ensure that ‘mistakes' are not built into new schemes. The items summarised below, concerning the Great Britain situation, give quite a general picture about specific aims of the Road Safety Audit. M to minimise accident risk on the network adjacent to new schemes; M to lay emphasis on safe design practice and increase the awareness of everyone involved in planning, design, construction, and maintenance of roads; M to highlight the importance of taking into consideration the needs of all types of users; M to reduce the wholelife cost of the schemes, by minimising the need of future corrections. The UK definition is as follows: A formal procedure for assessing accident potential and safety performance in the provision of new road schemes, and schemes for the improvement and maintenance of existing roads. (Guidelines for The Safety Audit Of Highways, IHT, 1996) In order for a safety audit to be successful, some certain factors should be taken into consideration. The key factors that contribute to the efficiency of the safety audit may refer to the organisation and the selection of the audit team. With respect to safety audit organisation, support and commitment of senior management is necessary. Safety audits should be an integral part of an agency's overall program. Local authorities often use a Road Safety Plan as a framework in which the RSA is placed. By doing so, the RSA is part of the overall safety management strategy. Checklists fulfill a structural position The purpose of the checklists is to insure that nothing is overlooked. Practitioners should not rely solely on them and are encouraged to expand them. Over the past few years checklists were reconsidered and the new checklists in the revised guidelines are meant to indicate ‘principal issues' rather than provide detailed lists of the items to be examined. Different checklists are provided for each safety audit stage. Checklists appear to be not very important. The usage of checklists decreases as the knowledge of Road Safety Audits increases. Utilization of Road Safety Audits When conducting an RSA, the audit team should not try to redesign the scheme, instead they should pay attention to road safety for all kind of different road users, and theirs suspected road user behaviour. The way this should not be done, is to compare the design with relevant standards and see if it matches, but the audit team should check if the design appropriately interacts with the design standards, for strict application of standards does not always lead towards a safe road. Some other findings about RSA are mentioned below. It is important that a site visit is carried out. Both in daylight and at night. Thus the visibility for different road users can be checked in the context of the road and its surroundings. When an RSA is carried out in an early stage of the design process it is less likely that ‘errors' become embedded in the design and become harder to correct later on. A RSA should not seriously delay a design process, thus attention should be paid to the embedding of the RSA during the planning of the design process. Attention should be paid to monitoring and feed back to the audit team after opening of the road when accidents occur. The RSA process should be formally organised and its outcomes documented. Concerning the formalization and purity of an audit, it is to recommend that the audit results are documented before there is discussion (if any) with the client, and concessions could arise. Some say that a formalised RSA leads towards a more systematical approach and enlarges the chance on a consistent outcome. The ultimate level of formalisation is to make an RSA mandatory. Relevant plans and documents should be available to the audit team and should be mentioned in the report. It should be clear what should be audited, which tasks there are and who is responsible for those tasks. It can be beneficial to use the same names and numbers of stages for less misunderstandings and for comparison with other RSA documents. Introducing Road Safety Audits Probably the best way of introducing RSA is ‘top down' (management and governmental) approval and ‘bottom up' training. In this introduction stage the use of checklists could be useful. When introducing RSA, knowledge of accident investigation techniques or safety engineering audit team is necessary. Another crucial point in introducing RSA is to how to tell when a designer is wrong. The best answer dealing with this problem is probably an increase of accidents. On a European level, the procedure could perhaps be used in a highly aggregate level, using local knowledge of road safety when performing an RSA. Proposal for the development of a framework A framework for the development of RSAs can be found in five points containing tasks for the different bodies responsible for different aspects of road safety. M National governments; they should develop RSA procedures and methods. M National road authorities; they should perform pilot audits for all roads, including TERN. M National organisations which are responsible for design guidelines & manuals; they should integrate RSA in tools for improving road safety M National road research institutes; they should evaluate RSA. M European Commission; it should initiate pilot audits on TERN roads. These pilots should point out how the audits for TERN roads will be performed, with regard to procedures, the audit team, and responsibilities. General conclusions Some European countries have developed a national RSA system. Many people involved in this development think of RSA as a promising way to improve road safety. RSA Pilot projects point out that design inaccuracies can be discovered in new road designs and RSA evaluations already carried out in some counties have been very positive; RSA seems to work. The introduction of an RSA system can either be done bottom up or top down. A bottom up approach can lead to a vast, enthusiastic participation whereas a top down approach can lead to a more explicit introduction. Although road safety comprising design solutions can be tracked using an RSA, the precise effects are yet still unknown. Quality is added to a national road system by using an RSA system
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Gepubliceerd door
SWOV, Leidschendam


Dit is een publicatie van SWOV, of waar SWOV een bijdrage aan heeft geleverd.