The Road Safety Foundation has called on the Government to invest in an effort to make UK roads measurably safer.
With road crashes costing two per cent of GDP and other countries managing infrastructure in a new way, the Road Safety Foundation’s 2013 report ‘Measuring to Manage’ calls for the new investment to be targeted so that the safety of the network is raised in a measurable way using world class techniques.
The report analyses the 44,373km (11%) of Britain’s network where 51% of Britain’s road deaths take place: motorways and A roads outside major urban areas.
In its Action for Roads proposals, the Government has recognised that Britain is falling behind other countries and has announced “the biggest ever upgrade of our existing roads worth up to £50bn over the next generation”. It is also proposing that the Highways Agency is turned into a publicly owned corporation.
Dr Steve Lawson, director of the Road Safety Foundation, said: “Most recent improvement in road safety has come from car design and safer driving. The specification that authorities currently set road managers is to reduce crash rates in general. That approach is too weak and must be replaced, because it muddles factors over which road managers have no control – such as car safety, hospital care and traffic levels - with factors very definitely under their control such as roadside safety barriers or junction layouts. Road managers need not only money, but the tools and goals to measure and manage infrastructure safety. Many proposals in Government’s Action for Roads are sound, but there is need now to focus on improving infrastructure safety itself in a measurable way.”
Findings of the report include:
· Risk to road users is now 7 times greater on single carriageway A roads than motorways
· Running off the road accounts for 30% of all deaths
· Junction crashes are the most common crash leading to serious injury
· 99% of motorways are rated in the ‘low risk’ category; 97% of single carriageway A roads are not
· Britain’s economy loses more than 2% of GDP in road crashes
· Overall risk of death and serious injury on motorways and A roads is lowest in the West Midlands and highest in the East Midlands
· The most improved region is the East of England with a 30% fall in risk.
The report highlights typical improvements leading to major reductions in serious crashes. These include removal of roadside hazards (such as trees, rigid poles or lighting columns), the introduction of interactive warning signs, anti-skid surfacing and road studs. For junction crashes, improved layout, signing, lining, resurfacing with high friction treatments and better tailored local speed limits were common.