Slippery Slope: A View Inside a Successful Road Safety Audit

January 26, 2011

The Portland office of Kittelson & Associates, Inc. hosted an interactive workshop on January 13th that covered the following related to Road Safety Audits (RSA):

1) A brief overview of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Road Safety Audit (RSA) – Guidelines and Checklist.

2) Walk through a recent RSA application - Mt. Hood Highway (US 26) on the western slope between Portland, Oregon and the Mt. Hood recreational facilities (including ski areas during winter season).

A Road Safety Audit is a formal safety performance examination of an existing or future road or intersection conducted by an independent audit team. The emphasis of a RSA is to identify opportunities to improve safety rather than critique work previously completed. The process includes pre-audit data and drawings review, a field review, an analysis of findings, and a presentation of the findings to the owner of the roadway or project being reviewed.

The Mt. Hood Highway corridor is a recent RSA example that was shared at the workshop. This corridor in the RSA is designated by Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) as a “Highway Safety Corridor” and is also a truck route. The RSA addressed issues common to a mountain highway, including speeds under variable weather conditions (dry pavement in the summer and snow/ice in the winter), curves, chain-on/off areas, passing locations, and other factors that contribute to high crash locations along the corridor. The RSA team included maintenance and design representatives, as well as a representative from the Oregon State Police.

This has been a valuable experience, since the process reminds the engineering industry to focus on safety rather than applying standards in a topographically constrained environment. The outcome of this project identified near-, medium-, and long-term projects. ODOT has commenced installation of the near-term projects totaling $150,000 and begun design of many the medium to long-term safety improvement to be constructed in 2013 totaling $9 million.

You can view the presentation slides below. If for some reason the slides are not displayed, you can also reference a PDF version of the presentation HERE



If you are interested in more details about this important topic and how it might apply to work you are involved with, you can contact either Hermanus Steyn at (800) 878-5230 or click on either presenters name below to email one of them directly.

In the true spirit of involvement and sharing best practices, we encourage you to post your experience, insight, and questions in the comment section at the end of this post. Lets keep the sharing going!


About the Presenters


Sue D'Agnese
Traffic Manager, ODOT Region 1

As ODOT’s Region 1 Traffic Manager, Sue is responsible for programming capital Safety Improvement projects for priority crash corridors and sites. She manages 23 staff including traffic engineers and technical staff who work together to coordinate with various local jurisdictional partners and the public to identify and address key safety concerns and problems. As a member of the Highway Safety Engineering Committee (HSEC), Sue works on effectively and innovatively utilizing scarce safety funding to reduce fatal and serious injury crashes in Oregon. She has led ODOT's charge to incorporate Road Safety Audits in the design and planning of projects in the Mt. Hood area and on Hwy 30 in Columbia County.

A geologist for 14 years for ODOT, Sue graduated from Portland State University with a Master of Science in Geology. Sue lives in Sherwood where she raises horses and farms in her spare time. She is mother to two grown children.

Hermanus Steyn, PE
Associate Engineer, Kittelson & Associates, Inc., Portland, OR

Hermanus Steyn’s wide range of civil engineering experience over 17 years brings sound engineering judgment to exceptionally large and complex projects. He has experience in a variety of transportation studies, with focus on the conceptual and detailed geometric design of all types of roadways from local streets to freeways. He has developed master plans for road networks, including airport traffic circulation, corridor studies, and access management. In addition, he has prepared final traffic design and roadway plans, special provisions, and cost estimates on engineering projects. He has also conducted traffic impact analyses for a variety of developments that have addressed safety issues, access management, and on-site circulation. In addition, Hermanus is a co-instructor for 2-day traffic signal design and geometric design courses, as well as 2-hour Roundabout Workshops.

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