Highway safety inspection policy

Last updated: 15 September 2022

Minimum safety inspection frequencies

Minimum frequencies for safety inspections of individual network sections are based upon the carriageway maintenance hierarchy adopted by us, which considers:

  • road category
  • traffic use, characteristics and trends
  • characteristics of adjoining network elements
  • wider policy or operational considerations.

Although the road category within the hierarchy, in combination with traffic use, will be the main determinant of inspection frequency, site specific factors may merit a decision to temporarily or permanently increase the frequency in a specific location (for example to mitigate the risk of unusually high defect levels or accident rates). Any such change to the inspection frequency of any route where it deviates from the determination within the carriageway maintenance hierarchy will be recorded within the management system.

Inspection frequencies are based on recommendations contained within well‐managed highway infrastructure and our general and historic experience that they are at least sufficient for their respective hierarchy category. These frequencies take into account the asset, its position in the hierarchy and a comparison with similar authorities.

Inspections may be rescheduled within two weeks of their due date to account for exceptional circumstances such as staff sickness or extreme weather events, subject to approval by the Head of Highways. In addition, the Head of Highways may also authorise an extension of the annual inspection interval by up to three months to better synchronise inspections to create a more efficient and effective inspection regime. Any departure must be recorded in the system.

Inspections are driven except in circumstances where defects on footways or cycleways cannot be observed from a slow‐moving vehicle, in which case inspections shall be carried out on foot from the safety of the footway. Inspections of certain minor roads, remote footways and cycle trails shall be walked or cycled.

Tables 1 to 3 detail the safety inspection frequencies which are to be adopted.

Safety Inspection frequencies for carriageways

Carriageway hierarchy classification Minimum frequency of safety inspection Hierarchy category

1

Not currently used

Motorways & equivalent roads

2

Monthly

Strategic Road – most heavily trafficked A roads providing

routes for long distance traffic

3A

Monthly

Main Distributor Road – other heavily trafficked A roads providing routes between Strategic Roads and linking urban centres

3B

Monthly

Secondary Distributor Road – lightly trafficked A roads, B roads, heavily trafficked C roads and traffic‐sensitive bus routes linking the larger villages and HGV generators to Strategic and Main Distributor

roads.

4A

Quarterly

Local Link Road – other C roads and non‐traffic‐sensitive bus routes linking smaller villages and industrial areas to distributor roads

4B

Quarterly

Local Access Road – providing local access to small

settlements and urban estates.

If a road falling within one hierarchy category has some particular feature, such as an unusually high volume of traffic, or the character of the road has changed (for example a new supermarket has opened) it can be upgraded (or downgraded) as reasonable.

A key principle employed in assigning the top 3 hierarchy categories was to develop continuous and contiguous routes of carriageways that had the same hierarchy category. Therefore, a route‐based approach was taken in assigning hierarchy categories to ensure the functionality of the route and its component carriageways were properly reflected. Relevant local intelligence was reflected in finalising which road fell into each hierarchy category. Categorisation of roads remains subject to review at appropriate intervals.

Safety Inspection frequencies for footways

Footway hierarchy classification Minimum frequency of safety inspection Hierarchy category

1

Monthly

Primary Walking Route

2

Quarterly

Secondary Walking Routes and Safer Routes to School

3

Annually

Linked Footway

4

Annually

Local Access Footway

5

Annually

Rural Footways

6

Annually

Low Use Remote Footways

Safety Inspection frequencies for cycleways

Cycleway hierarchy classification Minimum frequency of safety inspection Hierarchy category

1

As per carriageway frequency

Cycle lane – contiguous with the carriageway

2

Bi‐annually

Cycle Track which are the responsibility of the highway authority to maintain ‐ Dedicated Cycleway, a route for cyclists and pedestrian not adjacent to an existing carriageway or footway.

3

As per footway

Shared Cycleway/Footway ‐ Either segregated by a white line/other feature or unsegregated

4

Annually

Cycle trails – leisure routes through open spaces which are the responsibility of the

highway authority to maintain

Safety inspections

Safety inspections will normally be carried out from a slow moving vehicle. Where the inspector determines that, in their reasonable opinion, the inspection cannot be undertaken and defects effectively observed from the vehicle, the inspection will be carried out on foot.

Tables 1 to 3 define the minimum frequency at which inspections will be undertaken. Additional inspections may be planned in response to user or community concern, requirements for monitoring of structural concerns, as a result of incidents or in response to extreme weather conditions.

Inspections from vehicles will be carried out using a 2-person team (driver and inspector) using a vehicle with high visibility markings and equipped with tools and materials for undertaking small scale repairs, where it is practicable and safe to do so, at the time of defect identification. Examples of materials and equipment which the inspectors may carry are as follows:

  • traffic management signs and cones
  • temporary pedestrian barrier
  • loppers for cutting back vegetation
  • small tools for repairs to sign brackets etc
  • brush and shovel for removal of debris and clearing drainage systems

It should be recognised that inspectors will only undertake immediate works where it is safe and practicable to do so and following the completion of a site-specific risk assessment. Should the Inspector not deem it practicable to undertake such repairs at the time of identification, then they will identify and record the defect with appropriate timescales for temporary and full repairs.

Defects will be recorded at the time of identification on mobile data capture devices and transferred to the Asset Management System on the same day as the inspection takes place.