|i3 consultants WA|
(Traffic and Transport News Blog)
These articles are made available by the author for educational purposes only as well as to provide general information and a general understanding regarding published requirements and obligations. These articles should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice.
State and Federal Governments in Australia have fast-tracked major infrastructure projects to support jobs during COVID-19.
Unfortunately, I am not aware of any changes to the requirements for road safety audit teams, or site visit protocols, to enable Road Safety Audits to be undertaken in a different manner to that prescribed by the relevant road safety audit administrators in each State and Territory.
I first raised this issue with the WA Road Safety Audit Panel on 23 March 2020, with a reminder on 6 April. There has not been any change to the process in this time.
It is important that the Road Safety Audit process continues as this will allow for audits to be undertaken for the fast-tracked major infrastructure projects. It is also important that the Audits are undertaken in a safe manner.
In recognition of the above, I recommend the following:
Site Visit Changes
Auditors are currently required to visit the site for all road safety audit stages, i.e. Stage 1: Feasibility, Stage 2: Preliminary Design, Stage 3: Detailed Design, Stage 4: Pre-opening and Stage 5: Roadworks.
I recommend that the requirement for a physical site inspection is removed for Stage 1 and 2 audits, except for those circumstances where the Audit Team Leader has determined that it is critical. The Audit Team can use on-line aerial and satellite photographs and software to assist with Stage 1 and 2 Audits.
I also recommend that the requirement for the Audit Team to visit the site for Stages 3, 4 and 5, is relaxed to allow for the Audit Team Leader to visit the site and provide the audit team members with Dash-cam video when driving, body-cam video when walking or riding and GPS coded photographs taken during the site visit. The video should include narrative from the Audit Team Leader.
Where it is deemed essential for an Audit Team to inspect the site, the team should be limited to the Audit Team Leader (an accredited Senior Auditor) and an accredited Auditor.
All Senior Road Safety Auditors should be classified as “Specialist required for Industry” and permitted to travel to and from sites on this basis.
Request the change
I urge all Road Safety Auditors to contact the relevant authorities in their Sate or Territory, or local member of Parliament, to get these changes through as soon as possible so that we can continue to work together to provide a safer road network.
Audit Team Leader on 14 Road Safety Audits (3 Preliminary Design, 5 Detailed Design, 1 Roadwork and 5 Pre-opening) on the Great Northern Highway Muchea to Wubin Upgrade Program: New Norcia, Miling Straight and Miling Bypass Packages | Main Roads, Jacobs and Arup.
Main Roads WA established an Integrated Project Team with Jacobs and Arup for the planning, development, design, construction procurement and construction management of the Great Northern Highway, Muchea to Wubin Stage 2 Upgrade Project. Comprising seven procurement packages over a 218 km regional road north of Perth, the program has improved road safety, increase freight efficiency, contribute to sustainable communities and enhance the environment. Through the three completed packages, this has proven to be an extraordinarily versatile project management instrument for managing the development and delivery of an optimised rural road upgrade program.
Can you turn left or right when the Traffic Controller turns the bat from STOP to SLOW at this Road Works site in WA? (The signals are on flashing amber).
Road Traffic Code 2000
Regulation 73 (Traffic lane arrows) of version 05-10-02 of the Road Traffic Code 2000 states:
Note that Subregulation 1 does not apply if “the driver is driving in the direction indicated by traffic lane arrows that apply to one or more marked lanes and there is an obstruction in each of these lanes.”
The definition of an “obstruction” in the Road Traffic Code 2000 is “includes a traffic hazard but does not include a vehicle only because the vehicle is stopped in traffic or is travelling more slowly than other vehicles”.
Despite not specifically mentioning road works in the “obstruction” definition, Regulations 22(3), 26(3) and 59(2b) identify “roadworks” as an example of an obstruction within a lane.
Based on the above, it appears that the Road Traffic Code 2000 allows for right and left turns to be made legally from the straight-ahead lane on the basis that these turn lanes are provided on this approach but are “obstructed”.
Drive Safe Handbook
The introduction to the Drive Safe Handbook indicates that:
This handbook is a comprehensive guide to the road rules that apply in Western Australia.
It is written in an easy to understand format and designed primarily to help new drivers prepare for a lifetime of safe driving. If you are a new driver, this book contains the information you will need to obtain your learner’s permit.
The laws explained in this book are the major ones that are contained in the Road Traffic Code 2000 and Road Traffic (Vehicles) Regulations 2014. However, drivers should be familiar with all traffic laws and a copy of the relevant rules and regulations can be viewed on the internet at www.slp.wa.gov.au or purchased from the State Law Publisher.
The following diagram within the Drive Safe Handbook indicates that drivers must drive in the direction of the arrows.
Clause 220.127.116.11 (Intersection arrows) of AS 1742.2-2009 states “Intersection pavement arrows give a positive indication of the paths vehicles must follow at intersections or roundabouts. They are legally enforceable.”
Clause 2.3.2 (Safety and convenience) of AS 1742.3-2009 states “When they are not applicable during the works period, regulatory signs shall be removed or covered. Regulatory pavement markings likewise shall be either obliterated or traffic control measures employed to direct traffic along paths which might otherwise infringe the regulatory requirements of the markings.
At the Inquest into the death of Peter John Bonnell  NTLC 002, the Coroner made a Finding (#23) that:
“If existing markings are not appropriate or are potentially misleading, they should be removed and replaced by more suitable markings …”
In summary, it appears that it is legally permissible to turn right, left or travel straight ahead from a lane with pavement arrows indicating only other movements are allowed provided that the other lanes on the same approach indicate that these movements are permissible but are obstructed (closed) by roadworks.
This assessment has indicated that it is unlikely that drivers will be aware of the ability to perform the movements indicated above as this is not clearly indicated in the Drive Safe Handbook. The Australian Standards indicate that pavement markings should be obliterated or managed within road work sites and a Coroner has indicated that if existing markings are not appropriate or are potentially misleading, they should be removed and replaced by more suitable markings.
Roadworks are complex sites and signs should mean what they say to avoid any confusion or ambiguity.
This assessment will be raised and discussed by the author with Main Roads WA through the Traffic Management for Works on Roads Users Group to identify and agree a consistent and clear method of addressing the issue of pavement markings within roadwork sites.
Lessons learned from Roadwork Traffic Management Audits and Inspections (Top 10 Reasons for Failure)
The stated purpose of roadworks traffic management is to protect road users and workers on-site. But there is another group of people that require protection of a different kind, and that is the people who design, administer, supervise, audit, inspect and implement roadwork traffic management schemes.
A coroner recently reported that it was obvious the setup of the roadwork traffic management site at a fatal crash site in Darwin was unsafe and that offences had been committed under the Work Health and Safety Act that required reporting to the Commissioner of Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions. More details regarding this coronial finding, including a link to the report, can be found here.
If you have read this coronial report, work in the Industry and can honestly say that you have never seen or been involved in any similar roadwork traffic management scheme in WA then read no further.
Let’s get started.
Roadwork Traffic Management is not rocket science, but it does require one thing in common with rocket science and that is ATTENTION TO DETAIL. You know it’s important when it’s in shouty capitals, bold text and underlined.
Everything you need to know about preparing, implementing and administrating roadwork traffic management sites in WA is covered in the following two documents:
To keep things simple, I will refer to these as the Code of Practice and the Standard. Yes, there is a different Code of Practice for Events on Roads, but I will concentrate on roadwork sites in this article.
As if the above two documents are not enough to help and guide you, there is also an incredibly helpful Main Roads WA Temporary Traffic Management web-page with everything you need to know, including links to the Code of Practice, templates for preparing Traffic Management Plans, generic Traffic Guidance Schemes and a whole lot more.
Most of us know all this, so why am I writing this article?
Because I, like many others in the industry and many road users, still see roadwork traffic management schemes on our roads that are clearly wrong and often dangerous.
As a Roadworks Traffic Manager (RTM) I have recently undertaken 37 Roadwork Traffic Management Audits or Checks of roadwork sites and only one of these passed with flying colours.
Auditing is a thankless task and auditors can be as popular as health and safety personnel. We are seen as trying to find all the things that are wrong and never reporting what is right. Fair enough. But auditors are required to follow checklists. This means that something either complies or does not. There are no fifty shades of grey in roadwork audits. If it complies it gets a tick and no more mention. If it does not comply then we have to report why and make recommendations for compliance.
The positive is that auditing is a useful process for identifying things that keep going wrong and providing an opportunity to address these. Hence this article. It’s based on the top 10 common features of those 36 roadwork traffic management audits that did not pass with flying colours…
1 Poor Document Control
It’s not hard. You write a TMP and you give it a number. Whenever you change the TMP you add a revision number. That way you will never have any problems with auditors or workers on site using different versions of the TMP. The same applies to Traffic Guidance Schemes (TGSs) that were previously referred to as Traffic Control Diagrams (TCDs).
Have a copy of the latest approved TMP and TGSs available on request and on-site at all times. The first thing I ask for when I’m undertaking an audit or inspection is a copy of the latest approved TMP and the TGSs that will be in place when I visit the site. Its also the first thing I ask for when I arrive on-site. I often don’t receive this, or I’m given the wrong version.
Whilst it might seem clever for organisations to respond to audit reports with the simple comment that the wrong TMP or TGS was audited, what it really says is that the organisation has very poor records and document control procedures in place and is unable to demonstrate that any person working on-site can obtain a copy of the correct TMP when required. The TMP contains important Health and Safety procedures and requirements, so good luck with explaining that to the Coroner, particularly when all the other audit comments identify widespread non-compliance issues irrespective of which version is used.
2 Approvals, Signatures and Dates
Once again, it’s not hard. You are required to use the MRWA template and this has a table on the cover page to include all signatures and details of all approvals obtained. What you may not be aware of is that a signature without a corresponding date for ‘time sensitive’ documents such as TMPs can be invalid, as can ‘picture’ signatures such as JPEG. I have seen signatures with corresponding dates that are prior to the TMP design date and I have seen ‘picture’ signatures of people that subsequently advised me that they had not seen or signed the document. There are a number of electronic document signature, approval and review software products available to address this.
If your signature has been scanned for use in documents, make sure you know when it has been used and jump up and down if it is used without your knowledge.
Just as important, don’t sign something, or allow your signature to be used on a document you are not happy with. When the smelly stuff hits the oscillating cooling device your signature makes you responsible. The lawyers will say “you signed it so you are responsible” and you will find it difficult to argue against this.
A large number of TMPs that I reviewed had the standard “I, [Name] [AWTM XXX-####], declare that I have designed this Traffic Management Plan following a site inspection. The Traffic Management Plan prepared is in accordance with the Main Roads Code of Practice and AS 1742.3.”
The TMP was not based on the MRWA template and did not include any Variations. It clearly did not comply with the Code of Practice and to state that it did when it did not, raises significant legal issues.
In a nutshell, if in doubt, leave it out. Ask your boss to sign it instead. If they are accredited to do so and refuse, then you have proven to them that changes are required. If they are not accredited to do so, then you have reminded them that you are a better judge of this issue than them because you have been trained in this aspect of the work.
It is rare to have a ‘standard worksite’. I get this and so does Main Roads WA. Both the Code of Practice and the Standard allow for Variations.
The front cover of the TMP Template uses bold text to highlight this in its Declaration, i.e.: “I XXXXX (AWTM Cert No.XXXX) declare that I have designed this Traffic Management Plan following a site inspection on XX/XX/XX. The Traffic Management Plan prepared, subject to the variations approved, is in accordance with the Main Roads Code of Practice and AS 1742.3.”
Once again, it’s quite simple. If your TMP and/ or TGSs contain anything that do not comply with the requirements of the Code of Practice or Standard then you must follow the directions in Section 5.6 of the Code of Practice, i.e. Variation to the Code and Standards. If you don’t, then the TMP does not comply and should never have been signed or approved and all those that signed it or approved it are placing their accreditation at risk as well as themselves should there be an event resulting in coronial or legal procedures.
It is quite common to observe variations on site to those on the approved TMP and TGSs and there are often good reasons for this. There are also procedures within the Code of Practice to accommodate this. Basically, if there are differences on site to that in the TMP and the TGSs there are two options:
It is important to remember that if the change is a Variation to the Code of Practice and/ or Standard that it needs to be assessed and approved in accordance with Section 5.6 of the Code of Practice.
Designers should be aware that traffic management personnel on-site have a very good understanding of how drivers are reacting to, and behaving within, the roadworks site. Visiting the site and talking to personnel after implementation will allow designers to continuously improve roadwork sites as well as change requirements within the Code of Practice through the Main Roads Traffic Management for Works on Roads Advisory Group.
4 Risk Assessments
Please, please, please, stop telling me that digging a hole in the road without any traffic management is very dangerous and requires signs.
It’s interesting that designers accept that no two roadwork sites are the same, but they keep pasting the same old risk assessment table in the TMP.
Yes, we need to include ‘generic risks’ but we also need to include risks that are unique to the TMP and unique to each TGS. Quite a few designers are including two risk tables in the TMP, one for generic risks and the other for site specific risks. Fantastic, however many of the risks have identified treatments that are not in the TMP and/ or TGSs. If the remedial treatment is not included then the initial risk remains and quite often this places the entire project in the “Unacceptable risk. HOLD POINT. Work cannot proceed until risk has been reduced” category. And once again I become as popular as a camel with diarrhea.
The solution? Add another column to the right of the Risk Table with a ‘TMP Ref’ heading. That way you can check and ensure that each remedial treatment is clearly communicated in the TMP or TGS.
The Austroads Research Report AP-R403-12 Implementing National Best Practice for Traffic Control at Worksites – Risk Management, Audit and Field Operations is a very good reference document for identifying and managing risks at roadwork sites and includes some very good generic worksite risks and associated consequences and causes in Appendix B. It can be downloaded for free from the Austroads website.
5 Inspect your site yourself before someone else does
Main Roads WA requests auditors to provide prior notice of intended audits. I find it very surprising that I am still able to observe and record some very basic non-compliance issues when I undertake the audit.
As I mentioned earlier, auditors are required to use checklists and these checklists are freely available on the Main Roads WA Temporary Traffic Management web-page.
If you are about to have an audit, why don’t you download the relevant checklist and do one yourself first? You may then become the second perfect worksite on my audit list.
6 Assess traffic volumes (don’t just paste them in the TMP)
In addition to Main Roads WA’s road network capacity requirements, there are significant risks associated with congested roadwork sites. Driver’s get frustrated and start ignoring traffic management measures and abusing workers and traffic controllers when delays and queues are excessive.
The Code of Practice and Standard provide clear guidance on acceptable traffic volumes per lane per hour for both mid-block and intersection roadwork sites.
Main Roads WA provides easy access to traffic volume and traffic signal (SCATS) data on their on-line Traffic Map. Instead of copying this data and pasting it into the document, take the time to copy it into a spreadsheet to allow for easy assessment of appropriate work times. This also allows for workers on site to get a clear indication of whether or not they can extend the time if the works require another hour to finish. I have included an example at the end of this article.
7 Include Temporary Road Safety Barrier details (not just thick lines on TGSs with RSB text)
Section 6.5.4 of the Code of Practice is very specific with what is required whenever Temporary Road Safety Barrier Systems are used but very few TMPs include all the required details. Appendix G of the Main Roads Template allows for the relevant details to be recorded. If this is not completed and no similar details are provided elsewhere, then the TMP is non-compliant and should never have been approved or signed off by an RTM.
8 Excavations (a ‘hole’ lot of issues)
There seems to be a misconception that an excavation less than 250 mm deep is not a hazard. Let’s debunk this myth. Firstly, an excavation is deemed to have been formed when material is removed by digging as a result of the work, as defined in the Code of Practice. There is a different definition in the Standard, but the Code of Practice takes precedence (Section 1 para 4).
Excavations require special consideration to ensure their structural integrity and to minimise the risk of vehicles driving into them and losing control.
Section 6.5.1 of the Code of Practice states “As there is an increased risk of motor vehicles driving into excavations during the hours of darkness, where practicable, works should be planned so that the excavations are to be backfilled and compacted by the end of each working day. On sections where excavations cannot be backfilled and compacted, delineation and other requirements shall be provided during the hours of darkness in accordance with Clause 2.4.3 of AS 1742.3 - 2009.”
So there you have it. All excavations must be backfilled and compacted by the end of each working day. If this is not possible or practicable, then delineation and other requirements shall be provided during the hours of darkness in accordance with Clause 2.4.3 of the Standard.
And don’t forget to also comply with the requirements of Appendix D of the Standard with respect to protection and delineation of all excavations during the day and night. If you know that there will be deep excavations then you need to provide the correct level of protection, e.g. road safety barriers. Placing a note that all excavations will be less than 250 m deep and backfilled at the end of the day when its clear this this will not be the case could get you in a whole lot of trouble.
9 Visit the site (stop relying on Google Earth and Nearmaps and get out on site)
The Code of Practice requires a statement on the TMP confirming that a site visit was undertaken by the person who prepared the TMP or another person under his/ her direction, prior to preparing the TMP.
The Roadwork Traffic Manager Code of Conduct requires that RTMs make at least one site visit prior to endorsing a Traffic Management Plan.
Based on the above, you would think it is impossible to turn up on site and find a different existing road layout than that shown on the TGS, but it happens. It is also common to see signs erected behind trees, bushes, parked cars and other obstacles because the TGS fails to take these obstructions into account when indicating where these signs are to be located.
One of the strongest indicators of the lack of a site visit is the lack of existing signs on TGSs. All existing road signs should be shown on the TGS with notes indicating whether they are to be retained, covered up or removed.
So get out there. Spend some time getting to know the site and start planning sign locations on site taking into account existing signs and roadside obstructions.
10 Make sure your Hi-Vis clothing, jacket or vest is Highly Visible
When is high-vis not high vis? If you don’t want a lawyer to prove that your high-vis is not high-vis after an incident, then I suggest the following:
So that's it. Pay attention to detail, especially the top 10 issues discussed and you will most likely end up with a high quality roadwork traffic management scheme that not only keeps road users and your workers safe, but will also help in protecting your business reputation and viability.
David Wilkins is a Main Roads WA accredited Roadworks Traffic Manager and Senior Road safety Auditor with extensive knowledge and experience in the roadwork traffic management industry. He is the WA Engineers Australia Representative on the Main Roads Traffic Management for Works on Roads User Group and an active member of Transport Australia society in promoting the safe system approach to road safety issues. David is the Principal and Senior Road Safety Engineer at i3 consultants WA and works as an expert witness in the field of Roadworks Traffic Management and Road Safety Engineering.
The National Road Safety Strategy is based on the Safe System approach to improving road safety. This involves a holistic view of the road transport system and the interactions among roads and roadsides, travel speeds, vehicles and road users. It is an inclusive approach that caters for all groups using the road system, including drivers, motorcyclists, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, and commercial and heavy vehicle drivers. Consistent with our long-term road safety vision, it recognises that people will always make mistakes and may have road crashes—but the system should be forgiving and those crashes should not result in death or serious injury.
Key inputs to the Safe System are:
The Safe System approach was adopted in Australia during the period of the previous national strategy, through the National Road Safety Action Plans and the strategies of individual states and territories. It is consistent with the approaches adopted by the safest countries in the world, and is a central theme of the landmark OECD report Towards Zero: Ambitious road safety targets and the safe system approach, published in 2008.
There are several guiding principles to this approach:
While individual road users are expected to be responsible for complying with traffic laws and behaving in a safe manner, it can no longer be assumed that the burden of road safety responsibility simply rests with the individual road user. Many organisations—the ‘system managers’—have a primary responsibility to provide a safe operating environment for road users. They include the government and industry organisations that design, build, maintain and regulate roads and vehicles. These and a range of other parties which are involved in the performance of the road transport system and the way roads and roadsides are used, all have responsibility for ensuring that the system is forgiving when people make mistakes.
Road safety responsibilities also extend to various professional groups, as well as the broader community. For example: health professionals have a role in helping their clients to manage their safety on the roads; and parents contribute significantly to the road safety education of their children—not only through their direct supervision of learner drivers, but also by modelling their own driving and road user behaviour.
What better way to celebrate completing my 200th Road Safety Audit as a Senior Road Safety Auditor Team Leader than starting my 201st yesterday on Pinjar Road in Wanneroo. A big thank you to Ryan Bettridge from Perth Traffic Training, Benjamin Hawkins from ATM and Aaron Lee from the City of Wanneroo for volunteering time to be a part of this audit. Observing a roadside memorial for a 6 year old boy on site brings home the importance of the work that these guys do.
NT's coroner believes offences were committed regarding the faulty set-up of a traffic diversion that led to the death of a well-known Darwin musician
The Northern Territory's coroner believes offences were committed regarding the faulty set-up of a traffic diversion that led to the death of a well-known Darwin musician, and has referred the matter to the police commissioner and the director of public prosecutions.
It is worth noting that despite the motorcyclist being found to have a blood alcohol level of 0.204% and a high level of cannabis in his system, the coroner concluded that the poor traffic management set up was a contributing factor to the rider’s death. The Coroner stated:
‘I believe that offences may have been committed in connection with the death of Peter John Bonnell and in accordance with section 35(3) I report my belief to the Commissioner of Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions.’
A full copy of the Coroner's report can be accessed at https://justice.nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/474712/D00792016-Peter-Bonnell.pdf
I encourage all those involved in the design, implementation, review and auditing of temporary traffic management to read this report.
Cambridgeshire County Council has been awarded £550,000 by the Department for Transport (DfT), United Kingdom to create the UK’s first Dutch-style roundabout at Fendon Road and Queen Edith’s Way in Cambridge. The new roundabout scheme will improve safety in the area by giving priority to pedestrians and cyclists over motorists. The Council secured the funding after submitting a proposal to the DfT in February this year, in a bid to win part of the £7 million capital funding allocated by the Government for the 2018-19 Cycle City Ambition Safety programme.
What is a Dutch-style roundabout?
The Dutch-style roundabout design for Fendon Road in Cambridge will seek to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians in a number of ways. One of the key elements is a change in carriageway width, designed to influence slower approach and departure speeds, thereby reducing the speed of drivers.
Larger or longer vehicles have to partially use an overunnable strip in the centre of the road, which causes these drivers in particular to travel very slowly through the junction. With speeds reduced, any accidents that do occur are likely to be of much lower severity.
Pedestrians will be provided with zebra crossings on each of the four roundabout entry/exit arms, and cyclists will be given their own cycle path, in contrasting red tarmac, to give them equal priority with pedestrians over each arm.
70 people have died on WA roads since January this year. That's 17 more than the WA Government's own strategy target and 38 more than what could be achieved through best practice.
In March 2009 the WA Government set itself a target of reducing the number of people killed and seriously injured on WA roads by "a reduction of up to 40 per cent on the average number of people killed and seriously injured each year between 2005 and 2007." This target was included in the 'Towards Zero Strategy'.
The Towards Zero Strategy target is well below best practice rates achieved in western countries but is seen as a positive step in reducing road trauma in WA.
Sadly, we are missing both targets and WA continues to experience one of the worst road safety records in Australia.
To achieve a significant change we need a significant change in how we tackle the issue. We can't keep blaming drivers. We must adopt and implement the same strategies that have been implemented by those countries with an excellent road safety record. Blaming drivers and the different road environments in Australia is an excuse, not a strategy.
The Federal Government and the WA Government have adopted the best practice "Safe System" principle. We need to implement this to stop more deaths in a month on WA roads than by sharks in 10 years off the WA coast.
David Wilkins, Principal & Senior Traffic Engineer.