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FHWA Home / Safety / Road Safety Audits (RSA)

RSA – Making Your Roads Safer


Road Safety Audits Logo

RSA Logo set over photo of RSA team performing an audit with the assistance of police. Below photo is a flow chart showing the 3-step answer to the question 'how does an RSA work?' The answer is, (1) identify the road or intersection and the safety audit team, (2) conduct the RSA and report on findings and (3) follow up on the RSA findings.

What is an RSA?

A road safety audit (RSA) is a formal safety performance examination of an existing or future road or intersection by an independent, multidisciplinary team. Just as crime scene investigators focus their attention on the various aspects of a specific locale, RSA teams study a section of road or an intersection from a variety of perspectives. Essentially, the goal is the same: to uncover the root causes of a situation and then suggest actions.

Photo of vehicles turning left at a signalized intersection.

Why conduct an RSA?

The answer is simple – to save lives and reduce injuries on your roads. RSAs are a comprehensive and effective tool for proactively improving the safety performance of a road while it is still in the planning or design stage, or for identifying and mitigating safety concerns on existing roads and intersections.

RSAs are an excellent tool to identify remedies to locations on public roads that are exhibiting the most severe safety needs. State and local agencies and tribal governments have successfully used RSAs to improve safety. Transportation professionals experienced with RSAs are available to share their experiences, answer questions, and help another agency or Tribal Government conduct an RSA through the FHWA RSA Peer-to-Peer program.

"States must now annually report 5% of their most severe safety locales, and how they intend to remedy those problems. RSAs offer a credible response to such challenges."

– Thomas M. Welch, P.E.
State Transportation Safety Engineer
Iowa DOT

What are the benefits of RSAs?

Recently compiled statistics show that RSAs are working and showing measurable results.

In South Carolina after improvements were implemented at one site, the DOT showed a 60% reduction in fatalities in one year at that location.

In Michigan, the Road Improvement Demonstration Program conducted intersection RSAs and implemented improvements. Evaluation of 80 sites showed a 40% reduction in injury crashes collectively and a cost to benefit ratio of 16:1 over ten years.

Other benefits can be found online at http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/rsa/.

Photo of an RSA team assessing a winding road above the ocean with local police.

Photo of an RSA team in an office going over road maps and designs.

"Much of the traffic in this country is on local roads, and we're finding that we can make a big difference in how we handle that traffic safely with RSAs in city and county transportation agencies."

– Bill Wright
Transportation Programming Manager
Clark County, WA

How can I conduct an RSA?

FHWA offers two RSA training courses for transportation professionals in State and local transportation agencies and tribal governments. The first is a 2-day course available through the National Highway Institute (NHI), called Road Safety Audits and Road Safety Audit Reviews, FHWANHI- 380069. Information on course scheduling can be found online at www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov. The second course, RSAs for Locals, is geared toward local agencies, tribal governments, and Federal land management agencies. This course is free and can be presented in 1½ or 2-day formats. Information on course scheduling can be found online at http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/rsa/training/

Photograph of RSA team performing an audit in a mountainous stretch of highway.

How does an RSA differ from a traditional safety review?

"If folks keep to their mission to provide safe roads, then part of that would be having audits and checks to make sure that if we have problems, we can identify them and address them."

– Steven LaMar
Senior Litigation Council
Arizona Office of the Attorney General

To Do List

___ Schedule RSA Training

___ Use RSA Peer-to-Peer program (To contact the RSA Peer-to-Peer program, e-mail SafetyP2P@dot.gov or call 866-P2P-FHWA.)

___ Use RSA guidelines (http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/rsa/guidelines/)

___ Implement suggestions and evaluate results

For more information visit the RSA Website: http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/rsa/

Publication # FHWA-SA-07-009

Page last modified on October 15, 2014.
Safe Roads for a Safer Future - Investment in roadway safety saves lives
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000