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FHWA Home / Safety / Road Safety Audits (RSA) / Road Safety Audits (RSA)

Benefits


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A number of reports suggest that the RSA process is cost-effective, although most reference qualitative rather than quantitative benefits. Establishing and meeting a target benefit/cost ratio for RSAs is not the motivating factor behind support for RSAs at PennDOT, KDOT or Iowa DOT. These agencies suggest that the benefits of RSAs are substantial, but largely immeasurable. Nonetheless, the major quantifiable benefits of RSAs can be identified in the following areas:

The benefits of RSAs are that they:


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Road Safety Audit Team reviewing project plans
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Road safety audit team reviewing plans on
site at a coastal highway
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New Benefits Reports

PennDOT's RSA Experience

"Pennsylvania DOT has done 40 RSAs. We've found that RSAs are a valuable, low-cost tool that enhances the safety of a project by providing unbiased early recommendations for the project based on safety and multimodal needs. We intend to make RSAs an easily and frequently used tool in the design process."

Girish (Gary) N. Modi, P.E.
Chief, Safety Management Division
Bureau of Highway Safety and Transportation Engineering
Pennsylvania DOT

Link to PennDOTs experiences to learn the many ways RSAs have been beneficial to them.

Iowa DOT's RSA Experience

"Iowa DOT has implemented road safety audits on proposed resurfacing projects. Previously, very few safety improvements were incorporated into our resurfacing projects. We now see that our staff consistently look for and implement numerous low-cost safety improvements on Iowa's roads."

Thomas M. Welch, P.E.
State Transportation Safety Engineer (Retired)
Iowa DOT

"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 (Retired)
Iowa DOT

Maryland DOT's RSA Experience

"Maryland State Highway Administration believes RSAs are an invaluable tool in building and maintaining a safer highway system. RSAs are the right thing to do. Maryland SHA has a policy of conducting RSAs on our roadways. Courts are reluctant to second guess the policy decisions made by a State DOT when those decisions are based on a thorough engineering review."

Norie Calvert
Chief-Design Technical Services
Maryland Department of Transportation
State Highway Administration

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Road safety audit team observes various modes of transportation at an intersection
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NYDOT's RSA Experience

NYDOT has also benefited from conducting their own RSAs. They have experienced the following:

South Carolina DOT's RSA Experience

The South Carolina DOT RSA program has had a positive impact on safety. Early results from four separate RSAs, following 1-year of results, are promising. One site, implementing 4 of the 8 suggested improvements saw total crashes decrease 12.5 percent, resulting in an economic savings of $40,000. A second site had a 15.8 percent increase in crashes after only 2 of the 13 suggestions for improvements were incorporated A third site, implementing all 9 suggested improvements saw a reduction of 60% in fatalities, resulting in an economic savings of $3.66 million dollars. Finally, a fourth location, implementing 25 of the 37 suggested safety improvements, had a 23.4 percent reduction in crashes, resulting in an economic savings of $147,000.


International RSA Experiences

A recent AUSTROADS study assessed nine design stage RSAs. Below is a summary of the findings of the study:

This study also evaluated the recommendations from RSAs done on existing roads. Below are the findings:

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Road Safety Audit Team watching traffic signal operations and road users at an intersection
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In addition, other international communities have experienced their own benefits of conducting road safety audits:

These benefits were cited from various international publications and based on experiences and observations of auditors and agencies that have implemented road safety audits. The cost reduction figures are based on the findings of studies in Great Britain.

Before

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View of main road from a side road before a road safety audit
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After

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Same rural road after a road safety audit where guardrail has been installed
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Page last modified on October 15, 2014.
Safe Roads for a Safer Future - Investment in roadway safety saves lives
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