Routine maintenance helps improve road safety

Highways Reporters

Authorities scheduling low cost safety improvements alongside routine maintenance have helped reduce fatal and serious crashes by 80% on 15 stretches of UK roads according to a report carried out by the Road Safety Foundation.

The savings in death and serious injury from simple low cost safety improvements dominate the reductions on the 15 most improved roads and are worth a staggering £0.4 billion to the economy. The report complements a further publication that has been released, Making Road Safety Pay, which makes seven key recommendations for the government to adopt in a bid to achieve zero road deaths.

How Safe are You on Britain’s Roads? also highlights:

· 64 people a day killed or seriously injured on Britain’s roads

· 79% of motorway – but 3% of single carriageway travel – is on “low risk” roads

· Risk to road users is seven times greater on single carriageway A roads than motorways

· Motorways have seen 20% cut in fatal and serious crashes

· Running off the road accounts for a quarter of all deaths

· Junction crashes are the most common crash leading to serious injury

· UK’s persistently highest-risk road is a 12-mile stretch of the A285 in West Sussex

· Risk of death and serious injury on motorways and A roads is lowest in the West Midlands and highest in the East Midlands

· Motorcyclists account for 1% of traffic but 21% of fatal crashes

· Government should set a national goal of all A roads achieving a minimum three-star safety threshold and four and five-star ratings for busiest A roads and motorways

The UK’s persistently highest-risk road is a stretch of less than 12 miles in West Sussex.

The A285 between Chichester and Petworth runs north to south linking the A27 with the A272 and runs through the South Downs. It tops the list of high-risk and medium-high risk roads which have shown little or no change over time or significant increases in the number of crashes. It has seen a 16% increase in the number of fatal and serious crashes over time – at junctions, running off the road and even head-on collisions. The safety measures taken so far are not enough to tackle the route, according to the Foundation. It requires a more far reaching intervention along the 12 mile length of the route which make junctions and roadsides safer in particular.

“Authorities commonly report that many of the most effective improvements have not, surprisingly, been carried out specifically to improve road safety,” says James Bradford, engineering manager for the Road Safety Foundation. “Often the pressing need to carry out very basic maintenance has initiated action and the additional safety enhancements were a later addition. Scheduling in this way is extraordinarily cost effective. Ninety per cent of routes listed contained work on resurfacing, signing and marking. Fatal and serious crashes have been reduced by 80% on 15 stretches of UK roads, which saw 237 people killed and seriously injured in the three years before the action was taken but 52 after. The annual economic saving of these interventions is £25m or £110,000 per kilometre.”

Sixty four people are killed or seriously injured on Britain’s roads every day. Six out of 10 fatal crashes occur on rural roads. Half of the cost of all fatal crashes on the British road network occurs on the 10% of roads surveyed and mapped in the Foundation report. Britain suffers annual serious injury costs alone of £0.3 billion on motorways, £0.6 billion on national trunk roads and £2 billion on local authority ‘A’ roads on the EuroRAP network.

Bradford adds: “The busier the road, the more frequently any flaw in layout leads to death and serious injury. The Foundation welcomes government’s increasing recognition of the need to focus action on this network where the risk of death and serious injury is unacceptably high.

“In the last few years, our understanding has grown that the in-built risks on each stretch of road can be measured. The in-built safety of road infrastructure, like cars, can be measured and star rated. We should not be driving 5-star cars on 1- and 2-star roads. It is time to set a national goal that our ‘A’ roads should achieve a minimum 3-star safety rating with 4- and 5-star ratings for our busiest trunk roads and motorways.”

The seven recommendations made in the Road Safety Foundation’s report Making Road Safety Pay include:


1. The Department for Transport should develop a 10 year ‘Towards Zero’ strategy for road deaths

2. The government should pilot innovative Social Impact Bonds (‘Safety Bonds’) to finance new safety programmes

3. The government should introduce a zero Insurance Premium tax (IPT) rate for insured vehicles fitted with a telematics unit for drivers under the age of 25, based on a business case that includes data from real driving experience given to the charity through Ageas’s partnership with ingenie

4. Britain should develop a National Older Driver Strategy and create a taskforce to implement this plan

5. Low speed Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) should be standard on all new cars. The EU should mandate low speed AEB as standard on new cars from 2017

6. Minimum inbuilt safety levels of four-stars are needed for the busiest national roads and minimum three-stars for all other national roads by 2025

7. Establish an independent Road Safety Inspectorate and raise the safety of local authority ‘A’ roads to a three-star minimum level by 2030.

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