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Preventive risk assessment measures, such as a road safety audit or inspections, carried out on new and existing roads offer a well-charted and cost-effective pathway to reducing road traffic injury risk, because design standards alone cannot guarantee road safety in all conditions. Road safety audit and inspections serve the common purpose of identifying risk factors related to road design or traffic control that may lead to crashes, or make crashes more severe. In many cases, they also assist network highway operators and city traffic departments in identifying engineering weaknesses and hazardous locations, even in the absence of robust traffic injury data. Almost 85% of countries report implementing one or more preventive risk assessment measure, yet over 70% of roads surveyed by the International Road Assessment Program (iRAP) in emerging countries were rated 2 stars or under across at least one user category. These figures suggest a startling disconnect between the theoretical merits of preventive risk assessment and the actual results experienced by countless road users every day.

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