Saturday, December 1, 2012

Introducing the Road Safety Audit Checklist

Stage 1 of the road safety audit takes place after the preliminary design has been completed and ideally before the planning permission is granted for the development scheme. If it is a major construction project then it is also necessary to determine the amount of land required to meet all the safety requirements.

It is essential to check any elements of horizontal and vertical alignments in order to minimize any hazards caused by reduced sight-lines. This is particularly important where the scheme departs from normal standards. With regards to sight-lines consider all other obstructions that may be caused by such things as parapets, bridge abutments, structures and street furniture (eg. signs, bollards, seating, cycle parking).

Junctions are places of high risk which are often a cause for delay and where collisions tend to happen. Therefore, it is essential to review all conflict points at junctions (especially private access points) in order to minimize hazards. Check the visibility of the actual junction upon approach including sight-lines from minor roads and private access points. All things considered, it is important to control approach speed to the junction and review the layout of the approach roads. It is also good practice to consider any provision for turning traffic as well as location and access of lay-bys. With regards to lay-bys, it is important to remember the impact that parked vehicles may have on sight lines.

What else needs to be reviewed within the preliminary design?

1. The impact of landscaping
2. Perceptions of road users towards road markings and signage
3. Provision of safety aids on steep hill such as crawler lanes
4. Considerations on visibility regarding crests and bends
5. Provision of facilities for other highway users such as pedestrians, cyclists and horse-riders
6. Potential for flooding due to inadequate drainage
7. Issues around lighting including positioning of lighting columns
8. Any maintenance arrangements (street cleansing, security, footways)
9. Impact on the safe use of adjacent land
10. Provisions for vulnerable users such as the elderly, disabled and children

With all these concerns about safety and capacity, the 'sense of place' is often overlooked. It is important to remember that junctions (especially in urban areas) are places that people actually live around. Therefore, it is critical to find a happy balance between the practicalities of enabling all users to be able to easily get around safely and the actual aesthetics of the place that make it a positive experience for all highway users.
Peter Jessop Price is a director at Modal Group Ltd in the UK and has many years experience as a transport planning consultant. As transport planning consultants, Modal Group provides road safety audits and traffic surveys as part of both residential and commercial development schemes.

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