The starting point is in defining the need for an audit in the first place and if DMRB requirements are mandatory – either locally or nationally, then this guide is not relevant, and users should refer to the current UK national standard which can be found here.

For Highway Authorities that wish to audit in accord with the national standard for Road Safety Audit, the audit should be undertaken in compliance with the currently approved national audit standard, and Developers whose development directly affects the Strategic Road Network will also need to comply with this standard, – the above link is provided to current UK standard:


For non-strategic roads, individual authorities that wish to develop their own road safety audit policy and procedures should refer to the following sections of this document.

Highway Authority Schemes

If you are a local, non-strategic highway or road authority e.g. not Highways England, and do not have your own road safety audit standard, you need to decide on the criteria that determine whether or not a road safety audit is required.

Even if you have your own safety audit standard, to help you decide you could consider the following questions: –

Q: Does Every Highway Scheme Need an Audit?

e.g. like-for-like maintenance schemes, or small improvements such as a pedestrian refuge or traffic island?

A good indication is whether the scheme is likely to change road user behaviour e.g. making a driver want to slow down, speed up, or brake sharply, or perhaps influencing pedestrian decisions to cross a road, or introducing additional uses or behaviours (e.g new development).

If it is likely to change road user behaviour then an audit is advisable. Many authorities will only audit a maintenance scheme if it has an improvement element. Where it is a straightforward maintenance improvement and no change in road user behaviour is expected e.g. pavement repair/ patching/overlay/surface rejuvenation/like for like replacement of signs- no audit is required.

Example like for like schemes where audits are not required (please note that this list is not definitive)
Scheme Type Scheme Description


Pavement Improvements

Pavement repair such as patching, edge strengthening which does not result in widening the carriageway, inlay works with similar materials.
Pavement overlay which does not change the cross-section, vertical alignment, camber or superelevation
Surface rejuvenation such as mechanical abrasion etc.
Surface dressing of an existing carriageway
Signing & Road Markings Replacement of a worn road sign with a new road sign of the same type
Refreshment of existing worn road markings
Replacement of worn or missing road studs
Safety Barrier Replacement of a length of damaged safety barrier with a barrier of the same or similar type.


Q: Is An Audit Needed During Initial Consideration/Feasibility Stage?

For small schemes, such as a pedestrian refuge, an audit is probably not required at the initial consideration stage.  Large schemes, such as a new link road, bypass or major scheme realignment should have road safety considered as part of the justification process.  If there are several options comparison of road safety implications would take the form of a road safety assessment, rather than an audit. If there is only one option, then an audit at a preliminary design stage (Stage 1) would be appropriate to reduce the risk of injury to road users once the scheme is constructed.

For clarification on the definition of Assessment refer to TII Publication PE-PMG -02001 Road Safety Impact Assessment – Impact Assessment Team

Q: Is An Audit Needed on a Preliminary Design

or can it wait until the detailed design has been completed?

An audit carried out on a preliminary design (Stage 1 audit) may find a problem that requires the scheme footprint to be enlarged.  This could be impossible if the land is not readily available to achieve this. It is better to find this out during the preliminary design rather than waiting until the detailed design (Stage 2 audit), risking abortive design costs.  Small schemes do not involve significant design costs and so may be appropriate to undergo a combined Stage 1 and 2 audit. These should be considered as the exception!

An audit at Stage 2 – on completion of detailed design is ALWAYS needed in order to ensure that the safety needs of all road users have been considered prior to the scheme being built.  It is a lot easier – and cheaper -to change the line on a plan to relay areas of the carriageway of the footway.

Q: Is a Post- Construction Audit Always Needed?

A post-construction audit (Stage 3) gives another opportunity to find problems not identified during the design process.  Problems associated with vertical alignment are normally too late to rectify even at Stage 3. However, incorrect gully locations are sometimes missed during the design stage audits, as are problems of obstructed visibility. Nighttime problems may only become apparent during the post-construction night site visit.  The contractor may have changed the scheme design during construction to avoid statutory undertakers plant and this may introduce a problem, a common one being misaligned or missing tactile paving. A post-construction audit is always, therefore, advisable.

Q: Is a Monitoring/Post Opening Audit Required?

If a large scheme (major highway improvement, new road) is generating injury collisions at a rate greater than expected, a monitoring (Stage 4) audit is advisable. On-line improvements of small or medium size are likely to be monitored anyway as part of the annual collision monitoring process in any event. However, in setting any local polices the extent to which such monitoring takes place needs to be considered in assessing the need for Stage 4 audits.

For developer-led schemes the project is often closed off prior to the opportunity to undertake a Stage 4 audit, therefore funds are often not available for either the audit or any alterations required. It is advisable to analyse any collision data in advance of the release of any bond. This will ensure monies are available if scheme defects are resulting in collisions.

Q: Does Temporary Traffic Management (TTM) need an Audit?

TTM schemes should always be placed in accordance with the general requirements of Chapter 8 of the Traffic Signs Manual or ‘Safety at Streetworks and Roads works – A code of Practice’.  Where specific schemes are at variance with these local or national requirements or are likely to adversely affect road user behaviour over a sustained period. They should be subject to both Stage 2 and 3 audits.  Where changes are made to TTM layouts, these should be re-audited.

Developer Led Schemes

If the roads and junctions being proposed are going to be adopted by the Highway or Road Authority they will usually require at least a Stage 1 road safety audit prior to the planning permission being granted.  If this does not occur then planning conditions may not be achievable without considerable additional expense to the Developer (additional land take may be required outside of the Developer’s ownership). Alternatively, without an early audit, certain conditions required to be fulfilled for the development may not recognise the need for an expensive safety-related improvement and the expense of this may then fall upon the highway authority to provide it.

Prior to permission being granted for the development to proceed, the highway authority needs to be sure that:-

  • the safety improvements recommended by the audit are achievable at no expense to the authority
  • the improvements recommended by the audit are incorporated into the design, and
  • they agree to accept the risk for problems and associated recommendations within the audit with which the developer and the highway authority do not agree, i.e. that an exception Report is produced and signed off by the Highway Authority.

Where it is intended that roads are not going to be adopted by the Highway Authority, it is recommended that the Planning Authority should still seek an audit within the planning process so that the eventual users of these roads can do so with the minimum risk of being injured by trips, slips and collisions.

It will be for the Scheme Manager within the highway authority to determine if an audit is necessary for accordance with currently defined local or national practices.  Where developer-led schemes are being audited the local highway authority’s appropriate Approvals Officer (HAAO) and Developers Scheme Manager (DSM) will need to agree on the need, scope, audit Stage, the appropriate audit team and brief content.

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Define Audit Procedures