Scope of Road Safety Audit in India
India has the second largest road network in the world with over 3 million kms of roads of which 60% are paved. These roads make a vital contribution to India’s economy. On the whole, however, the facilities for the road users fall far behind acceptable standard, leading to a huge death toll resulting from road accidents. In recent times, there has been a growing concern over the road safety problem.
The Road Safety problem in India demands a multidimensional approach. Road Safety Audit is only one important component: Subcontracts India is doing ground breaking work in the following areas:
Feasibility/Concept audits are conducted at an early stage when preliminary design plans may or may not have yet been generated. At this stage the advantages and disadvantages of major elements such as alignments and intersection types are assessed against each other from a safety perspective.
Feasibility/Concept audits are normally conducted for medium to large projects only, but can be of benefit to smaller projects depending on the nature of the works.
Why audit at the Feasibility/Concept stage?
There is greatest scope for change at this stage
Avoids problems that cannot be avoided at a later stage
Ensure all road users have been considered in the design
To check that the project fits into the overall environment suitably or whether additional works will be required
2. Preliminary/Functional Stage Audit
Preliminary/Functional Design audits occur at a critical stage in the design process where horizontal/vertical alignments, super-elevation, sight lines, intersection layouts, access locations and all road user groups are considered.
Site inspections are undertaken at this stage to uncover any unknown existing features that may impact on the works, and to gain a general appreciation of the site conditions in relation to the proposed design.
How does Preliminary/Functional Design Stage Audit work?
Checks that lane widths, batters and general road designs are acceptable at an early stage
Checks potential conflict points
Avoids wasting time if only a detailed design is done and it turns up significant issues
Checks for potential hazards
Checks that all road users have been considered
3. Detailed Design Audit
Detailed Design audits assess the design at a stage when the major conceptual and layout decisions have already been made. They reassess the road design aspects as done in the Preliminary audit, but focus on the final details such as barrier terminations, correct type and placement of signs, batter slopes and table drain profiles, pedestrian facilities, drainage, roadside objects, signals and so on.
Site inspections are also undertaken at this stage if they have not already been undertaken at the preliminary stage.
Why undertake a Detailed Design Stage Audit?
It is the last chance to make alterations to plans before construction where the cost of changes dramatically increases
Check the signing and linemarking
Check that all the details of the road furniture work together and connect well to the conditions of the existing road
Check that all road users have been considered
4. Pre-Opening Audit
Pre-Opening audits are a final check to ensure that the road has been built as designed and to identify any safety issues. The new road is assessed in detail, along with its connections to existing roads during the day and night.
At this stage many of the issues raised can be rectified with only minor modifications. However, this is often dependent on the audit process to this point.
Why undertake a pre-opening audit?
To check for issues that may have been missed through the design process
To check for issues resulting from poor or incorrect construction
To check for issues resulting from genuine mistakes
It is the last chance to rectify any problems before exposing them to the travelling public
5. Post-Opening Audit
When a post-opening audit is commissioned, normally the project is of a magnitude that has also required a pre-opening audit. The post opening audit checks that issues raised in the pre-opening audit have been adequately addressed, and has a particular emphasis on how all road users are coping with the new road facility and whether any significant operational problems are being observed (above and beyond normal teething issues).
Why undertake a post-opening audit?
To check that issues raised in the pre-opening audit have been satisfactorily addressed
Often not all road features are complete at the time of the pre-opening audit, hence it is also an opportunity to check the completed road
To check that traffic is coping adequately with the new road conditions
6. Existing Conditions Audit
An assessment of an existing road with or without an accident problem, pedestrian environment or building access can be made. Road Safety Audit will adopt the following procedures to identify existing problem areas and potential problem areas based on risk management principles and develop suitable counter measures:
Analyze existing accident problems: Location, time of accident/s, conditions during accident/s
Travel the total length of the route to investigate the known accident sites and assess the road in general
Assess existing conditions that are potential hazards
Record location of deficiencies and photograph some of the problems identified
Development of suitable counter measures
Assessment will be conducted during the day and night
7. Non-Motorized User Audits
Government policy encourages consideration of the needs of non-motorized users and supports efforts to increase safety and accessibility by non-motorized modes.
The non-motorized user audit is defined as: A systematic process applied to Highway Schemes, by which the Design Team identifies scheme objectives for non-motorized users, documents the design decisions affecting non-motorized users, and reviews designs and construction to assess how well objectives have been achieved.
Non-motorized users are considered to be pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians. Non-motorized user audits require particular consideration to be given to the needs of disabled people, who may use any of these modes or other equipment such as wheelchairs.
8. Construction/Traffic Management Plans Audit
Traffic Management Plans are audited to ensure that traffic will be safely channeled through/past a work site, and to anticipate common driver behaviors that may result from confusion due to the changed conditions.
Engineering judgment is often called upon in situations where standards cannot necessarily be met. Expertise in barrier design and application and traffic engineering is also critical at this stage.
Following implementation of the Traffic Management Plan, an audit should be undertaken to assess how the plan is operating so that adjustments can be made as soon as possible where site conditions were not anticipated on the plan.
Why undertake a Construction/Traffic Management Audit?
Changed road conditions in a confined space give rise to the potential for crashes
Construction contractors are often not equipped with expertise in traffic management and will miss many subtle but important issues
To check that signs and devices are standard to ensure consistency and clarity for road users
To avoid conflicting messages between existing and temporary signs
Check that all road users have been considered including road workers, motorists, cyclists and pedestrians
Inner city construction sites often require a deviation from the standards in order to proceed due to the absence of space. Careful consideration and judgment is required to determine an acceptable deviation
Minimize exposure to legal action in the event of an accident within the work zone
What are the Typical Issues?
Location, cleanliness and appropriateness of signage
Suitability and installation of barriers, including termination
Suitability/credibility of speed limits
Proximity of workers to traffic
Proximity of traffic to hazards caused by the works
The appropriateness of the selected layout
Conflicts between existing and temporary road furniture
Taper lengths at merges
The depth of boxed out sections
Provision for all road users
Implemented in accordance with latest standards
Who are the potential clients for Road Safety work ?
Road Safety work generally has a broad range of clients, due to the spectrum of stakeholders involved in works that affect roads or pedestrian access. The following are the categories of clients:
Central & State Government (Road Authorities/State Transport Ministries)
Local Government (District Councils and Village Panchayats relevant for PMGSY initiative on Rural Roads)
Public Transport Authorities & Companies
Construction Alliances / Construction Companies
Traffic Management Companies
Legal & Crash Analysis Firms
International Road Authorities
Miscellaneous: Includes the following:
Vehicle testing facilities
Businesses with one-off issues including street front/parking/permits
Advertising companies in relation to public transport road furniture
Driver Training facilities (Special Tie-ups with Taxi aggregators)
Road Safety Training programs for school children
Road Safety Training Programs for Traffic Police/ Other Road Safety workers