Road Safety Audits

Road Safety Audits

Being that this week is Queensland Road Safety Week, we thought it would good idea to talk about a very important element that forms part of the road design process; Road Safety Audits. From our recent experience, it is clear that many within the industry are not familiar with the Road Safety Audit process.

What is a Road Safety Audit?

Road Safety Audits are conducted in accordance with the Austroads Guide to Road Safety Part 6. Austroads defines a Road Safety Audit as “a formal examination of a future road or traffic project or an existing road, in which an independent, qualified team reports on the project’s crash potential and safety performance.” Unlike the traditional definition of an ‘audit’ the aim is not to rate or give a pass/fail grade to a road element; but rather to assess what are the potential road safety issues and how these can be addressed to improve overall safety.

A Road Safety Audit is also not just a ‘design check’ to see if a road element complies or doesn’t comply with design criteria. Just because a road design is ‘compliant’ doesn’t make it safe (and vice versa, a non-compliant solution is not necessarily un-safe). Auditors are trained not to assess a road/design based on the standards, but on whether the elements in question are likely to lead to a safety issue.

Who conducts a Road Safety Audit?

A Road Safety Audit is conducted by a team of accredited Road Safety Auditors. In Queensland, this requires a person to have:

  • A minimum of 5-years experience within the road design and road safety discipline;
  • Completed a recognised Road Safety Audit training course; &
  • Maintain accreditation through conducting audits on a yearly basis.

Road Safety Audits are undertaken by people independent of a road design team. This is to ensure the give an unbiased view of the road safety issues for a road element or design. Road Safety Audits are typically conducted in teams, to ensure as many sets of eyes as possible are involved to identify potential issues.

When are Road Safety Audits conducted?

Road Safety Audits can be completed for several different scenarios and stages of the road design process. This includes:

  1. Feasibility / concept design
  2. Preliminary design
  3. Detailed design
  4. Construction (temporary road works)
  5. Pre-opening / post-construction
  6. Existing roads

Does having a Road Safety Audit completed mean a road is Safe or Unsafe?

A Road Safety Audit is not intended to determine if a road or design is ‘safe’ or ‘unsafe’. The aim of the audit is to improve the overall safety of a road element/design. This is achieved by identifying safety issues, based on the information available at the time of the audit, and suggesting corrective actions.

Do the recommendations of a Road Safety Audit need to be implemented?

A Road Safety Audit is conducted by people independent to a design or project; therefore, whether the findings or recommendations are accepted or implemented, falls to the project team or road authority that requested the audit. When identifying recommendations, auditors are trained to do so based on accepted risk control hierarchy. This being either to:

  1. Remove a potential safety issue/hazard, or
  2. Substitute/manage/treat the hazard, or
  3. Warn of the hazard.

Ultimately it is the responsibility of the project team or road authority to document the decision-making process with regards to selecting the appropriate control in response to the Road Safety Audit.

We hope that this article has helped shed some light on Road Safety Audits and their role in driving improvements to Road Safety within the industry. TTM has a highly experienced team of Road Safety Auditors that would be happy to discuss any Road Safety Audit needs for your upcoming projects.