Road safety auditors are responsible for formally evaluating the levels of danger on roads or at intersections. The roads and intersections with which road safety auditors are concerned may be existing or still in development. The findings of the road safety auditors have a heavy bearing on if and how a road or intersection project commences.
As a road safety auditor works, he must adhere to guidelines set by the particular government agency that oversees the road system, such as the Federal Highway Administration in the US. These guidelines dictate the steps the auditor has to take during the audit. Failure to follow these steps may result in project and audit result delays.
Initially, a public agency such as a road commission or city government identifies which intersection or road needs auditing. Once the agency has done this, they contact a road safety agency and find auditors to conduct the project. After the public agency has a auditing team, the auditors work with the agency to set up specific parameters under which to conduct the audit. For instance, they define the project scope, tasks the auditors and public agency must perform, when the project will occur and report and response expectations. Auditors usually send out a formal letter stating their understanding of the project, but they also have an formal primary meeting with members of the public agency to further discuss what the project entails and get on the same page.
With the project and responsibilities defined, a road safety auditor moves into the field. He visits the actual project site and looks for any factors that might contribute to a crash or injury. The auditor evaluates the site based on several perspectives, such as small auto driver, truck driver, pedestrian and cyclist. He tries to treat the safety of everyone as equally important.
As part of the field audit, a road safety auditor also may interview individuals. The individuals may be citizens who use the road or intersection regularly, or they might be people involved in the area's safety, such as police. The goal is always to gather as much anecdotal and statistical data about the problems of the area as possible.
Based on the data gathered, the next step road safety auditors take is to analyze the road or intersection. They prepare a formal report about the hazards or benefits present in the area. Part of the report includes suggestions on how the public agency might reduce or completely eliminate the hazards. The road safety auditor presents the report to members of the public agency.
The public agency working on a road safety project has the opportunity to respond to the road safety auditor's report following the receipt of the document. It must submit a formal statement as to how it plans to address the suggestions the auditor presents. If the public agency cannot bring a suggestion to fruition, it must explain in the response why they cannot proceed as suggested. A common reason for not proceeding as the auditor suggests is a lack of funding, although agencies often spare no effort in trying to raise the money necessary for providing good public safety.
The last step for a road safety auditor is to work with the public agency to incorporate the findings of the audit into the road or intersection project. For example, they might liaise with companies who can provide project services on the agency's behalf or help the agency come up with an adjusted project schedule. They typically do follow-up audits to see how the project is progressing.