6,000 lives could be saved, RAC Foundation report claims

09.58 | 4 April 2011 | | 3 comments

6,000 lives could be saved on Britain’s roads over the next 10 years if only a fraction of the money currently spent on road maintenance was used more effectively, according to a report from the RAC Foundation.

Britain loses up to £30b (2.3% GDP) annually in the cost of road crashes, most of which falls on busy, targetable motorways and main roads, claims the report, ‘Saving Lives, Saving Money: the costs and benefits of achieving safe roads’.

The report shows how, within existing budgets, 1-star and 2-star roads can be eliminated in the next decade, with benefits worth £25-£35 billion. Achieving the savings will require that road authority leaders are offered guidance to focus on the full costs and benefits of saving the most lives for the money available.

The report reveals the losses on roads for which different authorities are responsible. It finds the cost of fatal and serious crashes on the Highways Agency’s network amounts to £1.2bn annually. The cost of serious crashes on English local authority ‘A’ roads is £2bn.

It investigates how much it would cost to bring main roads with safety flaws up to safety levels that should reasonably be expected – and the savings that would result. It proposes a 10-year safety programme to 2020 which would cost less than 10% of existing road budgets.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, says: “Given that Britons are more likely to die on the roads than in any other daily activity, this report should make us first angry, and then determined to act to see more lives saved – at little or no extra cost.

“We will never prevent all road accidents but we can do a considerable amount to reduce their effects simply by improving the road environment and making it as forgiving as possible. We understand road risks well enough to know how to cut this grim toll of death and injury, yet we fail to implement cheap and effective measures to combat them.

“Why do we continue to tolerate unsafe roads when the cost of bringing the network up to minimum standards is within what we already spend on our roads? It beggars belief that we are not redirecting resources to where they are most beneficial.”

Click here to read the full report.


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    I am in favour of road improvements, and let us take responsibility for our actions. But no, we jump on avoiding responsibility, accountability and the duty of care to other road users. It is a case of: let’s blame the roads and excuse the motorists who kill and maim whilst in the commission of committing one or more criminal motoring offences.

    We hear of casualty costs. I should like to have a breakdown on where the money goes, e.g. the emergency services and legal services, as in many cases it is not the victims who receive the money. Although no amount of money will either bring back a loved one or grow back limbs or remove scars and trauma – physical or mental.

    Judith W

    Judith Wall, Norfolk
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    Interesting assertion you make there. Care to explain where you draw such a conclusion from?

    Tony S
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    You could also ask the question of why do we tolerate unsafe drivers? Many of those that contribute to the £1.2bn cost of casualties will have a previous record of poor driving.

    Steve Jarrett
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