Road safety report finds success and stagnation

04/09/2020
Dominic Browne

A new report is set to highlight road safety progress and a lack thereof, with some routes cutting fatalities by 50% over the years while typically less than 2% of road sections show any measurable improvements.

It also reveals less than 1% of road sections showed significant improvement this year. 

The Road Safety Foundation and Ageas Insurance have released a preview of Looking Back, Moving Forward before its publication next week.

The report details how, over the last two decades, the annual performance tracking of improvements in British road sections revealed some outstanding examples where targeted investment by authorities in safer infrastructure delivered casualty savings of 50% or more.

Sadly these road sections were exceptional and typically less than 2% of road sections showed any measurable improvement in successive annual Crash Risk Mapping periods. This year less than 1% of road sections show significant improvement.

The report highlights one route – the A448 in Warwickshire – which has improved from high risk in 1997-1999 to low risk in 2016-2018.

There were seven fatal and serious crashes on this route in 1997-1999 compared with none during the most recent three years.

The 4km section of the A448 is a local single carriageway between the A435 and the A441 in Redditch and is roughly equally split between 40mph and 50mph speed limits and carries 9,000 vehicles per day.

Safety interventions on the route have included speed roundel markings and red surface treatment along with the installation of two vehicle-activated signs and yellow-backed warning signs at certain points. The location is also subject to regular police mobile enforcement.

Dr Suzy Charman, executive director of the Road Safety Foundation and author of the report says: 'Over two decades, the annual performance tracking of improvements in British road sections has revealed some outstanding examples where targeted investment by authorities in safer infrastructure delivered casualty savings of 50% or more.

'But, sadly, this road section was exceptional. Typically, less than 2% of road sections showed any measurable improvement in successive annual Crash Risk Mapping reports. This year less than 1% of road sections show significant improvement.'

In the foreword to the report, Lord Whitty, chair of the Road Safety Foundation says: 'British progress has depended largely on rising European vehicle standards. Similar advancements have not been seen in infrastructure safety.' 

However he went on to praise the Government’s Safer Roads Fund, launched in 2016 as an influential step.

'Systemic management of infrastructure risk is now required by law elsewhere in Europe. Highways England and Transport for London have set ambitions that no-one should be hurt on their networks by 2040 but must now target infrastructure risks systemically along busy routes.'

Ant Middle, CEO Ageas UK comments: 'Some risks arise from unsafe attitudes to using the roads, some because the engineering of the road or vehicle allowed a high energy impact which should have been eliminated.

'We accept that accidents happen, but we fully support the need for roads to be designed to accommodate human error and reduce the risks. Having supported the Road Safety Foundation since 2012, their work has clearly contributed to the improvements we have seen over the last 20 years. But as this latest report will highlight, there is still more to be done to save lives on our roads.'

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