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Roadside Safety Study: Inventory and Condition and Risk Assessment


Road authorities are often concerned with roadside safety and their understanding of the condition of their existing roadside safety systems and the identification of potentially hazardous roadside elements or objects. These roadside elements or objects fall under two generic categories: existing but deficient roadside safety systems and/or unprotected roadside hazards including, but not limited to, embankments, watercourses, box-culverts, and bridge rails or walls. According to the Ministry of Transportation’s Ontario Road Safety, Annual Report 2012 [1], in 2012 there were a total of 41 collisions between a motor vehicle and a fixed object resulting in a fatality and another 2,021 resulting in a non-fatal injury.
In 2014, Associated Engineering (Ont.) Ltd., in partnership with Cole Engineering Group Ltd., was awarded an assignment to conduct a roadside safety study of approximately 940 kilometres or predominantly two-lane, rural roadways within a municipality situated in southwestern Ontario. The roadside safety study consisted of taking inventory and conducting a condition and risk assessment of the existing roadside safety systems, identifying unprotected roadside hazards, and developing a prioritized plan for addressing the noted deficiencies thereby assisting the municipality in regards to capital planning and annual maintenance of roadside safety systems.
For the assignment, the existing roadside safety systems were inventoried and assessed in terms of condition in addition to identifying any unprotected roadside hazards using a tablet computer and a global positioning system (GPS) unit. The roadside safety systems and roadside hazards were assessed in terms of their conformance to the existing standards set forth in the Ministry of Transportation’s Roadside Safety Manual [2]. Remediation measures to correct any noted deficiencies and non-conformances were provided and include: installation of a new system, extension of an existing system, replacement of an existing system, and removal of an unnecessary system. In addition, a risk score was developed to allow for the accurate prioritization of the remediation measures based upon exposure (to traffic), probability (of collision), and consequence (severity of collision). The municipality will be able to utilize the risk scores in conjunction with the remediation measures to aid in capital planning and annual maintenance of roadside safety systems.
On the basis of the review, a total of 469 roadside safety systems, consisting of 304 standalone systems and 165 compound systems were inventoried. The following deficiencies were highlighted: inadequate delineation (94 percent), incorrect mounting height (28 percent), inadequate cable-tension (92 percent), design consistency issues (15 percent), poor rail condition rating (36 percent), poor post condition rating (26 percent), and poor block-out condition rating (12 percent). Approximately 52 percent of the roadside safety systems had an inadequate approach or departure length required to prevent motorists from outflanking the system resulting in the potential for a collision with the roadside hazard.
A total of 372 roadside hazards were identified; a majority were situated behind some form of roadside protection while a lesser number (128) remained completely unprotected.
The risk score was effective at highlighting the roadside protection systems and/or unprotected roadside hazards that should be first addressed in regards to the municipality’s capital plans moving forward.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Transportation Safety and Security
Suggett, J.
Frost, J.
Junnor, G.
Road safety