Report numberRA-2004-50
TitleTraffic safety audits
SubtitleA study of international literature
AuthorsKurt Van Hout
Mark Kemperman
Published byPolicy Research Centre for Traffic Safety 2002-2006
Number of pages59
Document languageDutch
Partner(s)LUC (nu UHasselt)
Work packageOther: Infrastructure and space

This report gives an overview of the international practice of road safety audits. This is done by a review of the available international literature.


A road safety audit is in essence a formal process in which traffic safety aspects (and nothing but road safety) of a new project or existing road are studied. The audit is performed by independent persons with adequate knowledge and experience in the field of road safety.


A road safety audit consists in several steps, from the selection of the audit team over the actual writing of the audit report to the implementation of the required changes and the feedback of the experience gained.


The contents of the audit depends on the type of project and the stage in which it is situated (design, planning, realization, …). The knowledge and experience required from the audit team depends on this.


The most important disadvantage of a road safety audit is the extra administration it brings along. The biggest advantage lies in the augmentation of traffic safety. All costs considered (design, realization, accident costs, …) the road safety audit turns out to have a positive cost-benefit ratio (benefits are higher than the costs).


The road safety audit of course isn’t the only way of improving traffic safety. They are placed between the use of standards, EIAs and MIAs, the dangerous locations approach and the numerous deliberative bodies known in the Flanders Region.


By implementation of road safety audits one has to consider which projects need an audit or in which phases of the project it should be performed. Most of the time road safety audits are reserved for big and expensive project with a high expected impact on traffic safety. However an audit can be applied on all road projects and on an even higher scale of spatial developments.


The audit can be implemented in all phases of a project: before the design stage, general planning, preliminary design, before opening of the road. Furthermore an audit can be done with existing road or with road works. Depending on the scale of the works, an audit can be combined for several phases.


Checklists are often used when performing an audit, amongst others in relation to the experience of the auditor. These checklists serve as a reminder for the auditor in that he wouln’t forget important aspects. They are however nothing more than an aid, the judgement of the audit team remains most important.


At each audit several actors are involved with each their own task. It is important for the audit team to be able to work indepently from the client and designer. With disagreements between designer and audit team the client will allways be decisive.

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The Policy Research Centre for Traffic Safety carries out policy relevant scientific research under the authority of the Flemish Government. The Centre is the result of a

cooperation between Hasselt University, KU Leuven and VITO, the Flemish Institute for Technological Research.


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