Road crashes are a major social and economic problem around the world and many stakeholders are engaged in trying to improve the situation. In the autumn of 2009, Ministers and stakeholders from all over the world approved the Moscow Declaration on Road Safety (First Global UN Ministerial Conference on Road Safety). Within 2 years this matter was discussed at the UN and a Decade for Action on Road Safety was announced for the period 2011-2020 with a target to reduce the worldwide total of deaths by 50% by 2020. Since then at international level, the United Nations, World Health Organization, Development Banks ( IBRD, ADB, EBRD, EIB, etc.) and some specialized NGOs (PIARC, ETSC, PRI, SEETO, etc.) have been promoting and contributing to Global road safety improvements. Although some progress was made in some countries the problem has remained serious and a 2nd Global Ministerial road safety conference in Brasilia in 2015 re emphasised the need to continue and expand efforts to address this Global problem As part of that increased focus road safety targets were included within 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - SDG 3 and SDG 11
The importance of Road safety Audit and Road safety Inspections
In all countries, road design standards are applied in developing road infrastructure and in most cases they include some consideration of road safety issues. Despite this, crashes still occur on new and rehabilitated roads around the world . There are several reasons for this. Firstly, design standards often contain only minimum requirements regarding road safety - especially where such standards have not been updated recently to incorporate more modern approaches to safe design. In addition, it is possible that individual design elements which in themselves are safe can, in combination, sometimes lead to dangerous situations occurring . Furthermore, it is not always possible to comply with the highest desirable standards. Sometimes, especially in built-up-areas or in difficult terrain, there are reasons which make the application of the highest desirable standards impossible. so compromises are sometimes made which can have a negative effect on road safety. Where roads are rehabilitated, it is normally only the running surface which is improved, leaving the horizontal and vertical curvature unchanged. The much higher speeds now possible on such rehabilitated roads can lead to an increase in accidents.
International research and understanding over recent decades has shown that the whole system (driver, road with its environment and the vehicles) is strongly interconnected and that usually at least two of these contributory factors are involved. This has led to development of the "safe systems" approach which gives greater emphasis to interfaces between these elements . It also emphasises that humans do make errors so the system designers and providers of the system have to take more responsibility to provide a safe environment that takes account of human factors and frailties. The interface between road users and the road has to be adapted to road users abilities and limitations.
A number of techniques and processes have been developed in recent decades to try to ensure that roads are as safe as practically possible. One of the important techniques is Road Safety Audit (RSA) which is now recognized as one of the most efficient engineering tools. RSA is a term used internationally to describe an independent review of a road project to identify potential road or traffic safety concerns. It can be regarded as part of a comprehensive quality management system. It is a formal examination of a road or a traffic project.
With the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council no. 2008/96 on road infrastructure safety management, published in October 2008, the European Union made a clear decision and direction that road safety is important. RSA is mandatory for the trans-European Road Network and European Investment Bank is already extending application of the Directive via its lessons to the neighborhood countries. The multi lateral development banks (MDBs) are also now all requiring RSAs on the schemes that they finance .
In Directive 2008/96 , RSA is part of a package of road safety measures, including:
- Road safety impact assessment (RIA),
- Road safety audit for the design stages of roads (RSA)
- Safety ranking and management of the road network in operation, including management of high risk road sections, often called «Black Spot» Management (BSM)
- Road safety inspections of existing roads (RSI) and
- In-depth crash analysis (IDS).
RSA represents a pro-active (preventive) element that should be included in the road design process. Furthermore, the RSA procedure is:
- A formal process,
- An independent process,
- Carried out by someone with appropriate safety experience and training,
- Restricted to road safety issues of the road and making it safer for all road users.
The outcome of a RSA is a formal report, which identifies existing and potential road safety deficiencies and, if appropriate, makes recommendations aimed at removing or reducing these deficiencies. With the audit process, it is possible to reduce the number and severity of traffic crashes by improving the road safety performance.
According to the best practice, and the EU Directive, there are four different stages during which Road Safety Audits are most commonly conducted:
Stage 1: draft design,
Stage 2: detailed design,
Stage 3: pre-opening of the road and
Stage 4: early operation, when the road is in use.
The RSA has a lot of similarity with another road safety management procedure and that is the Road Safety Inspection (RSI). This is a review / safety risks assessment of the existing road network to identify potential unsafe situations . The output of RSI is also a formal report, and the form is slightly different from RSA report. We have provided some guidelines in the download section of this website