The benefits of a road safety audit is immense. A road safety audit differs from conventional traffic safety studies in two key ways:
- Road safety audits are often pro-active investigations, rather than reactive investigations of sites with histories of complaints or poor safety performance, and the investigation team is independent from the staff that is designing the project or maintains the road.
- Traditional investigation relies on crash results.
A Road Safety Audit (RSA) is a formal safety performance exam. It can be either of an existing or of a future road or intersection. The road safety audit is conducted by an independent, multidisciplinary team. The work of a road safety audit is very important. It provides for a qualitative estimate of the safety of the road or of a proposed road. It reports on potential road safety issues and identifies opportunities for improvements in safety for all road users.
There are several goals of a road safety audit. Primarily, a road safety audit answers:
- HAZARDS: What elements of the road may present a safety concern?
- HAZARDS: To what extent could the hazard be dangerous, to who, and also, under what circumstances like day or night, weather, traffic, etc
- RECOMMENDATIONS: What opportunities can be found that would potentially eliminate or relieve any of the identified safety concerns?
Public Agencies Have the Power to Make Life Saving Changes to Roads
Public agencies can the provide guidance and change to overall safety performance of roads and intersection that are under their jurisdiction. This is an exciting opportunity. Road Safety Audits are not just about proof of concept, they are real recommendations that can save lives. A road safety audit can be used in any phase of the development of a project. From planning and preliminary engineering, design and construction to post-completion evaluation many years later. RSA’s can also be used on any sized project from a minor intersection and roadway retrofits to mega-projects on highways.
DID YOU KNOW…
- Over 38,000 people die each year in crashes on US roads.
- The US traffic fatality rate is 12.4 deaths per 100,000 people.
- An additional 4.4 million people are injured seriously enough in crashes to require medical attention.
- Road crashes are the leading cause of death in the US for people aged 1-54.
- The economic and societal impact of road crashes costs US citizens $871 billion.
- Road crashes cost the US more than $380 million in direct medical costs.
- The US has the most road crash deaths of any high-income country – about 50% higher than similar countries in Western Europe, Canada, Australia and Japan.
- Pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities continue to rise in the United States.
Reducing Road Crashes is a Shared Responsibility
According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT), reducing road risks requires a commitment and informed decision-making by government, industry, non-governmental organizations and international agencies. It needs to be a group effort. No one can do this alone. It also requires the participation of people from many different disciplines, including road engineers, motor vehicle designers, law enforcement officers, health professionals, the media, educators, community groups and individual road users.
Strong public awareness campaigns are essential to raise the understanding of the issue and motivate individual and governments to take action, comply with existing laws and introduce and/or amend laws that do not exist or are ineffective.
Vision Zero is a strategy first implemented in Sweden in the 1990s to eliminate all traffic fatalities and serious injuries while increasing safe, healthy and equitable mobility for all. Vision Zero has now been adopted in many counties throughout the world. The Vision Zero philosophy maintains that traffic deaths are preventable and compensates for inevitable human errors on the roads. Vision Zero recognizes that people will sometimes make mistakes and therefore the road system and related policies should be designed so that human error does not result in death and serious injury. To accomplish this, a safe system must be designed. The Safe System approach to road safety aims to protect people from death and serious injury by ensuring that all aspects of the transport system are designed to safeguard the road users and the inevitable errors that they will make.
The Safe System Approach is a holistic view of the road transport system and the interactions among roads and roadsides, travel speeds, vehicles and road users. It is an inclusive approach that caters for all groups using the road system, including drivers, motorcyclists, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, and commercial and heavy vehicle drivers.