Road Safety Audits
If you have ever wondered what you can do to make the roads you are responsible for safer, a Road Safety Audit (RSA) may be just what you need.
An RSA is the formal safety performance examination of an existing or future road or intersection by an independent, multidisciplinary team. It estimates and reports on potential road safety issues and identifies opportunities for improvements in safety for all road users.
The FHWA works with State and local jurisdictions and Tribal Governments to integrate RSAs into the project development process for new roads and intersections, and also encourages RSAs on existing roads and intersections.
The aim of an RSA is to answer the following questions:
- What elements of the road may present a safety concern: to what extent, to which road users, and under what circumstances?
- What opportunities exist to eliminate or mitigate identified safety concerns?
Road safety audits can be used in any phase of project development, and can be used on projects of any size.
Typical improvements include:
- Removal of sight distance obstructions
- Addition of, or design changes to turn lanes
- Improvement to acceleration/deceleration
- Improving lane design
- Using illumination to improve safety
- Improving pedestrians ability to cross a street
- Improvements to superelevation
- Drainage improvements
- Roadway shoulder and lane width modifications
- Access management/consolidation of driveways
- Realignment of intersection approaches
Benefits of an RSA
- Helps produce designs that reduce the number and severity of crashes
- May reduce costs by identifying safety issues and correcting them before projects are built
- Promotes awareness of safe design practices
- Integrates multimodal safety concerns
- Considers human factors in all facets of design
Nearly all transportation projects have some degree of pedestrian activity; even roadways in remote areas may serve pedestrians from time to time. However, pedestrians may not be adequately considered in some projects. It is critical that pedestrian safety be incorporated into the RSA process.
To assist with this, the FHWA report Pedestrian Road Safety Audit Guidelines, and the companion Pedestrian Road Safety Audit Prompt List can be used together during the RSA process. These resources contain detailed information on issues that audit teams should address.
Instead of checks to verify that minimum standards are being met, the Prompt List guides auditors to look for potential issues, such as those that are not addressed by vehicle-oriented standards or those that can arise from minimum or inappropriate standards. The Guidelines parallel the Prompt List and will provide a more detailed explanation of potential issues. Photographs of good and poor designs provide examples.
Instead of focusing exclusively on pedestrian needs and issues, the Guidelines and Prompt List will look at how pedestrians and other modes interact.
For more information on the benefits, legal issues and steps towards conducting a road safety audit, visit the FHWA Safety website