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Making Our Roads Safer: How Road Safety Audits Can Help Save Lives

Learn more about the importance of conducting a road safety audit to identify potential road-related risks and help reduce the number of fatal and serious injuries on our roads.

According to Austroads, a road safety audit (RSA) is a formal, robust technical assessment of road safety risks associated with road transport projects.

The main purpose of an RSA is to reduce the number of fatal and serious injuries through assessing a road’s safety performance and identifying hazards or crash potential. Road safety audits utilise the principles of the safe system approach and proactively apply them to ensure the road can operate in the safest way.

The audit is conducted by an independent and qualified road safety auditor, who has relevant experience and capabilities in road design, traffic engineering, transport planning, road safety engineering and a thorough understanding of road user behaviours.

What are the different types of road safety audits?

For the purpose of conducting an RSA, there are three general phases in the life cycle of a road-related project, being pre-construction, construction and post-construction.

Within these phases, there are a further number of key life cycle stages, namely strategic design, concept design, detailed design, roadworks, pre-opening, finalisation and existing road.

Whilst an RSA can be conducted at any of these key life cycle stages, it is evidently most beneficial to conduct the audit during the pre-construction phase of the project. This is primarily because the earlier the project is audited, the more likely road safety issues or risks will be identified, subsequently leading to such risks being significantly reduced or eliminated.

What is involved in the road safety audit process?

According to the NSW Guidelines for RSA Practices, the main phases of the process are:

  • Commissioning an RSA, which is undertaken by the project sponsor.
  • Conducting an RSA, which is undertaken by the road safety audit team.
  • Completing corrective actions to address road safety deficiencies arising from an RSA, which is undertaken by the project sponsor.

The steps involved in conducting an RSA include:

  • Attending a commencement meeting with the project sponsor.
  • Reviewing the design plans and conducting a site inspection to identify potential road safety risks.
  • Preparation of the Road Safety Audit Report.
  • Attending a completion meeting with the project sponsor to discuss and clarify the audit findings.

What are the benefits of a road safety audit?

Put simply, conducting a road safety audit helps save lives and prevent injuries for road users.

According to Austroads, road safety audits are the most proactive way of identifying safety-related risks and hazards of road designs, so that they can be mitigated with the aim of providing a road system free of death and serious injury.

As previously discussed, conducting an RSA at the beginning of the project is most beneficial, as it ensures that the current safety and accessibility standards are incorporated during the conceptual and design phases of new road facilities.

This will assist in reducing the possibility of accidents both during and post construction, ensuring pedestrian accessibility and safety, and minimising the potential of legal action from developers, contractors, designers, planners and authorities.

It is also argued that road safety audits are an effective tool for minimising remedial work and other corrective actions within a project’s lifecycle. Therefore, conducting an audit helps reduce the long-term costs associated with a road project.

Road safety audits conducted on an existing road can also be used by local government authorities as a basis for applying for state and federal road safety funding.

The traditional process for obtaining road safety funding has been based on a history of injury crashes on a section of road or at an intersection, however, an RSA is a proactive way of funding safety improvements that will reduce the likelihood and severity of crashes occurring or even prevent them from occurring at all.

How can Baker Ryan Stewart assist?

Barker Ryan Stewart’s road safety audits have assisted TfNSW, local government and property developers in improving road safety outcomes for projects including main roads, rail level crossings, infrastructure, subdivisions, and commercial and residential developments.

We have the depth and breadth of experience to meet and drive the outcomes required for our clients. Within the standards and guidelines required to conduct an audit, we will aim to provide achievable solutions to ensure the project is delivered in a timely fashion.

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