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FHWA Home / Safety / Proven Safety Countermeasures / Road Safety Audit

Road Safety Audit

While most transportation agencies have established traditional safety review procedures, a road safety audit (RSA) or assessment is unique. RSAs are performed by a multidisciplinary team independent of the project. RSAs consider all road users, account for human factors and road user capabilities, are documented in a formal report, and require a formal response from the road owner. (See the eight steps for conducting an RSA below.)

Graphic: This diagram describes the steps for conducting a road safety audit and the parties responsible for carrying out each step. The eight steps to conduct a road safety audit include: Step 1 – Identify Projects, Step 2 – Select Road Safety Audit Team, Step 3 – Conduct Start-up Meeting, Step 4- Perform Field Reviews, Step 5 – Analyze and Report on Findings, Step 6 - Present Findings to Owner, Step 7 – Prepare Formal Response, and Step 8 – Incorporate Findings. The Road Safety Audit team is responsible for conducting steps 3, 4, 5, and 6, while the design team and project owner are responsible for conducting steps 1, 2, 7, and 8.

Source: FHWA

RSAs provide the following benefits:

  • Reduced number and severity of crashes due to safer designs.
  • Reduced costs resulting from early identification and mitigation of safety issues before projects are built.
  • Increased opportunities to integrate multimodal safety strategies and proven safety countermeasures.
  • Expanded ability to consider human factors in all facets of design.
  • Increased communication and collaboration among safety stakeholders.
  • Objective review by independent multidisciplinary team.

RSAs can be performed in any phase of project development, from planning through construction. Agencies may focus RSAs specifically on motorized vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, or a combination of these roadway users. Agencies are encouraged to conduct an RSA at the earliest stage possible, as all roadway design options and alternatives are being explored.


1. Road Safety Audits: An Evaluation of RSA Programs and Projects, FHWA-SA-12-037; and FHWA Road Safety Audit Guidelines, FHWA-SA-06-06.

Safety Benefits:


reduction in total crashes.1

This photograph, taken from the side of the roadway, shows a group of five individuals inspecting the roadway. The five individuals are standing in the paved shoulder of the roadway and wearing reflective safety vests.

Multi-disciplinary team performs field review during an RSA. Source: FHWA

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Page last modified on November 19, 2021
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