Why does my development need a road safety audit?
As part of the on-going development work in the Hunter Valley, Central Coast and beyond, the aspect of road safety is an important element to ensure that the impact of new roads and access controls to new and redeveloped sites are provided in a safe and effective manner. Whilst the road design is completed by skilled engineers with many years of experience, “tunnel vision” can lead to the design having safety concerns that can have a significant impact for all road users.
As part of the design process, the road authority requires a road safety audit to be completed by a team, independent of the design team, to provide a separate set of eyes for the design.
This ensures that all road users are taken into consideration, whilst also taking into account road design guides and standards and design constraints created by the existing road environment. The safety audit process will look at the road design from all road users’ perspective, including vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. This review of the design ensures that it does not create a potential road hazard whilst also reviewing the controls and alignment for vehicle drivers. The safety process involves reviewing a wide range of issues, relating to visibility, readability of the road alignment (vertical and horizontal) as well as issues relating to drainage, services and traffic controls.
Road safety audits can cover a wide range of projects as well as stages of projects. Typical audits can include existing conditions audits, requiring a review of an existing road length or network to identify particular areas of concerns and highlighting particular issues that have a high risk for road users. Typically, the road authority uses these audits to inform Black Spot Funding as well as general road upgrades as part of a major investment. Audits are also completed as part of the various stages of road design, at the concept design as well as detailed design stages. These audits highlight any design issues, which are then reviewed by the design team and adjustments made to the design prior to construction of the road works. In this way, the construction work only needs to be completed once rather than expensive adjustments made to the road postconstruction.
Audits can also be completed post construction and prior to opening. These audits are completed to verify that the design and construction ties in with the existing road design and that the overall road layout provides a safe environment. These audits however are not a review of the construction works to ensure that they have been built in accordance with the plans as that is part of the road authority supervision works.
Road safety audits can cover a wide range of developments, both small and large which can range from minor driveway works through to complex new interchanges on freeways. The road authority (eg council) relies on these audits which allow for a third party review and verification. Other elements of audits include the review of Traffic Control Plans for construction works, Traffic Switches during significant road upgrades as well as pedestrian and cyclist safety audits.
Whilst road safety audits can be seen as yet another report by developers and the like, they form part of the design process to ensure that all road upgrades comply with standards and guidelines and provide best design practice. In this way, it is hoped that road safety can be maximised and injuries or fatalities can be reduced or eliminated.