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Global engineering firm Arup has been using Star Rating for Designs (SR4D) to improve the safety of their road designs and their corporate strategy for Outcome Led Design to save lives.

Arup has 16,000 designers and staff working across 35 countries and was looking to deliver more from their designs within the safe system approach, linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and UN Global Road Safety Performance Targets.

Chris Furneaux, Associate Director of Arup reported the company’s experience testing SR4D on multiple projects in the UK to understand the safety insights it can provide and the benefits it can bring to projects.

Watch an excerpt of his presentation below:

“We too often will design roads and infrastructure to be compliant with standard, and actually [we should ask] what can we do to make schemes as safe as they can be?” he said. “That [question] led us through to the Star Rating, then ultimately Star Rating for Designs.

“SR4D allows us to challenge the assumptions we make and make better decisions about safety. It provides the tick that we’ve delivered 3-star or better. The ease of understanding is the marketing benefit it can provide.

“It gives us a figure on an annual basis where we can understand, not just the reduction in risk, but then how that could transpire into reductions in fatal and serious injuries,” he said.

Chris shared a case study profiling the road safety risk inherent in two different design options for the same scheme. Both designs were compliant with standard but illuminated very different fatality and serious injury estimations, and in particular, high-risk on a junction.

“By steepening the gradient slightly it allowed us to remove that junction and aspire to a design that was better and safer, even though technically both complied with standard,” Chris said.

The improved design would result in a reduction in estimated fatalities and serious injuries of almost 75 per cent.

As well as illuminating high-risk sections, SR4D also identifies risk for all road users in the design.

“We started out looking at the star rating for vehicle occupants and you might find you have 3-star and go “tick great”, but actually when you look at it for motorcyclists you’ve only got 1-star. Although they may be a relatively low number of road users, we need to focus on all of them if we’re going to really pull down the people killed and injured on roads,” Chris said.

“[SR4D] allows us to challenge improvements to the design that comply with standards, so actually how can you go above and beyond the minimum baseline in standards.

“It provides an independent [safety] verification rating that people can understand. It is quantifiable and consistent across a region, a country or the globe,” Chris said.

Star Rating for Designs (SR4D) is a free tool and evidence-based programme of applications informed by the iRAP Methodology which enable the simple and objective measure, and improvement, of the level of road safety ‘built in’ to a road design for vehicle occupants, motorcyclists, pedestrians and cyclists, before the commencement of civil works.

SR4D is essential to supporting countries to achieve the United Nations Global Road Safety Performance Target 3, to ensure all new roads are built to a 3-star or better standard for all road users. SR4D is also essential in supporting the Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030, which recommends that countries set safety performance targets for roads, including:

  • Specify a technical standard and star rating target for all designs linked to each road user, and the desired safety performance standard at that location.
  • Undertake road safety audits on all sections of new roads (pre-feasibility through to detailed design) and complete assessments using independent and accredited experts to ensure a minimum standard of three stars or better for all road users.


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