DfT hands councils £38m for road safety

21/03/2024
Chris Ames

Ministers have announced £38.3m to improve the safety of 17 high risk local roads in England, taking the spending under the Safer Roads Fund beyond the £175m originally pledged.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said the cash comes on top of £147.5m already allocated to deliver ‘life-saving improvements’ on 82 high risk roads across England.

Modelling suggests the funding could save 385 lives over the next 20 years, with up to a 30.8% reduction in fatal and serious injuries on some roads.

Improvements will include:

  • designing new junctions and roundabouts
  • improving signage and road markings
  • new road surfacing and landscape management
  • improved pedestrian crossings and cycle lanes

Transport secretary Mark Harper said: ‘Britain’s roads are some of the safest in the world, but we are always looking at ways to help keep drivers and all road users safe.’

The Road Safety Foundation (RSF) has estimated that all tranches of the Safer Road Fund will save nearly 2,600 fatal and serious injuries over the next 20 years.

The DfT said that once the whole life costs for the schemes are factored in, the societal benefit would be £5.30 for every £1 spent.

RSF executive director Dr Suzy Charman called the Safer Roads Fund ‘a transformational initiative for road safety’ that proactively addresses the risk of death and serious injury.

She added: ‘Systematic changes have already had a big impact on road death and serious injury, for example, seat belts and airbags protect lives when crashes happen.

‘In the same way, we can design roads so that when crashes happen people can walk away – by clearing or protecting roadsides, putting in cross hatching to add space between vehicles, providing safer junctions like roundabouts or adding signalisation and/or turning pockets, and including facilities for walking and cycling.’

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said: ‘The Safer Roads Fund is the hugely welcome gift that keeps on giving because today’s announcement means another 120 miles of safer road improvements will be delivered to the benefit of users.

‘Such incremental improvements are key to achieving our collective aim for a safer road network as a whole.’

The largest allocation – £5m – went to Devon County Council for improvements to the A361 (pictured) between Ilfracombe and Barnstaple.

Stuart Hughes, cabinet member for highways management, said: ‘We are looking closely at what improvements could be made at a number of locations along the route.

‘While no final decision has yet been made, we are likely to focus on a package of safety improvements which include speed management, junction upgrades, better pedestrian crossing points and improved community connections to the Tarka Trail to encourage future growth in walking and cycling.’

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