Development of Iowa Road Safety Assessment (RSA) Guidelines

Project status


Start date: 10/01/15
End date: 02/28/18


Principal investigators:

Co-principal investigators:

About the research

A road safety audit or assessment (RSA) is a formal review of the safety performance and features of a site by a multidisciplinary team with no prior experience with the site. RSAs are an effective tool for improving roadway safety. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) guidelines for RSAs have existed since 2006, and most states have adopted those guidelines with modification to meet local needs.

This project reviewed current national and state RSA literature and surveyed a small sample of states on their RSA practices to define RSA guidelines and practice. That information, as well as the current approach to RSAs in Iowa, was used to develop a suggested RSA process for the future in the state.

The literature review found that states generally follow the 2006 FHWA eight-step RSA process. The eight steps in the FHWA process include project identification, team selection, pre-meeting, field review, analysis and report preparation, presentation of findings, preparation of formal response, and incorporation of findings. Some variations in the process are in use by some states, but these are largely related to the expansion of specific steps.

An in-depth review of RSA processes in four states (Nevada, Ohio, South Dakota, and Virginia) found that each state generally followed the FHWA guidelines.

The RSA approach suggested for Iowa is based on a process that has evolved to meet the needs of those requesting the assessment. The eight steps suggested for Iowa RSAs include (1) Project Identification, (2) Team Development, (3) Background Data Compilation, (4) Pre-Assessment Meeting, (5) Field Review, (6) Memorandum Development, (7) Memorandum Delivery, and (8) Incorporation of Suggestions. Changes, updates, or revisions to the Iowa process can and should be incorporated as necessary in the future, as the need arises.

Report appendices highlight data and sources, checklists of items for field reviews, a sample field note sheet, and a suggested memorandum template. This information is intended to support and guide an RSA team throughout the assessment process. The approach outlined in this document can be employed by any group that conducts an RSA in Iowa. This will result in consistency between RSAs, regardless of who conducts them.


Report: Development of Iowa Road Safety Assessment (RSA) Guidelines (1.73 mb pdf) February 2018

Tech transfer summary: Development of Iowa Road Safety Assessment (RSA) Guidelines (0.96 mb pdf) Feb 2018


Sponsor(s): Iowa Department of Transportation