Monday, 23 January 2017

The Road Safety Surveys

One of the many interesting tasks undertaken by the LTSA and Land Transport NZ engineering team were the Road Safety Surveys starting in 1995 and ending around the time the Transport Agency was formed.

The purpose of the surveys is outlined below in an extract from the standard operating procedures (SOP) for this process David Croft kindly located in the bowels of the Transport Agency’s filing system.

“The LTSA undertake a survey programme that assesses the implementation effectiveness of various safety standards by road controlling authorities on an annual basis. The purpose of the surveys is to:

·      assist and advise road controlling authorities on the implementation of selected traffic standards and guidelines that affect road safety;
·      measure the uptake of standards and guidelines by road controlling authorities;
·      provide a national summary of the uptake and compliance with standards and guidelines and report findings to road controlling authorities and other interested parties; and
·      identify changes to improve standards, guidelines or traffic rules.

The survey work (which is of a sample of 30 RCAs on 1-2 topics a year) is also currently identified as a performance measure and output within the LTSA Statement of Intent (SOI).”

Over the years the surveys ran many topics were covered as in the list below: 

  •  Traffic signal light output 
  •  Street lighting 
  •  Treatment of slip lanes at traffic signals 
  •  Stop and give way controls at intersections 
  •  Advisory speed signs 
  •  Pedestrian crossings 
  •  Temporary speed limits 
  •  Traffic control at road works 
  •  Safety management systems 
  •  Skid resistance 
  • Pedestrian Platforms
  • Floodlighting pedestrian crossings
  •  No passing lines 
  •  Roundabouts 
  •  Roadside hazard management 
  •  Road hierarchies 
  •  School crossing facilities 
  •  Data collection 
  •  Traffic signs — 
  •  Vehicle entrances stock crossing facilities and amenity carriageway surfacings 
  •  Traffic calming devices  
  •  Road markings 
  •  Crash reduction studies and monitoring 
  •  Stop and Give Way intersections 

  • It would be a very interesting exercise to revisit a sample of these on the basis of the recommendations made therein. 

    The general process was to firstly develop which topic or topics, would be surveyed in the particular year. This process involved the TMLG or Traffic Management Liaison groups run by each of the Regional Engineers - for anyone who can remember back that far - and possibly even raised at the annual IPENZ Transportation Group Workshop.

    The next step was working out who would be doing which tasks – generally around a team leader in each region.

    From there a questionnaire would be developed around the topic under study and these would be sent in advance to the local body engineer.

    There would almost always be a survey form to be developed to see how things were in reality compared to perceived, that is the field work section.

    Then the “heavy lifting” started with interviews and the outside work.
    To be honest I preferred the outside work as I had a natural leaning to the actual “audit” and I always had the words of our Internal Auditor Stephen Cook ringing in my ears "show me" (the evidence) - his catch phrase to any claims you made about tasks completed - great guy we got on well.

    (2006 Urban Thresholds) 

    Not on the replacement cycle .......

    (Note the feet behind the sign - can't be ours we had fluro vests and that sign is a hazard in itself) 

     From there is was the analysis of the interview notes, the questionnaire, the field work and finally the report. 

    All of the final surveys can be found on the Transport Agency’s web site here  Final RSS surveys all twenty four of them .

    In looking at the list I have many happy memories from those surveys, which often took us to some of the most remote parts of the region and I imagine for those in our southern office the racking up of some serious kilometers in the pool cars. 

    I remember doing one of the Safety Management Systems surveys (RSS9) where all was in order in the office, nice manuals on shelves, well motivated team but what turned out to be limited connection during an informal field survey. 
    In part I think some of what we found in the field surveys can be put down to a kind of  "blindness" that comes with traveling the same road over and over and not really “seeing” what is actually there.

    A pretty good example of this can still be seen everywhere and that is vegetation growing over road signs (RSS 19). This issue came up as a problem way back in 1985 when the first crash reduction studies were done. 

    These surveys were just one part of what was an enormous breadth of work that was carried out by the engineering section which in turn really made the job so interesting.