Annual report tracks safety performance of UK roads

11.07 | 31 October 2018 | | 16 comments

The Road Safety Foundation is calling on the Government to extend the Safer Roads Fund in order to address 40 ‘persistently higher risk roads’ as a matter of urgency.

The DfT launched the Safer Roads Fund in January 2017 – pledging to provide local authorities with a share of £175m to improve safety on the 50 highest risk local A road sections in England.

However, in June 2018, road safety minister Jesse Norman told MPs that local authorities had received a total of £100m in response to bids – and that the remaining £75m of the fund was ‘not required’.

The Road Safety Foundation produces an annual report which tracks the UK’s road safety performance across thousands of individual road sections, the 2018 edition of which was published yesterday (30 October).

The level of risk is calculated by comparing the frequency of road crashes resulting in death and serious injury on each stretch of road, with how much traffic it is carrying.

The 2018 report, titled ‘Getting Back on Track’, identifies 40 persistently higher risk roads which ‘must be addressed with urgency’ – the cost of which is estimated to be approximately £75m.

The report says further ‘sustained annual expenditure’ of £75m per year over the next five years could address the ‘appalling’ rate of death and serious injury across two thirds of the ‘unacceptably high-risk roads’.

In his foreword, Lord Whitty of Camberwell, chairman of the Road Safety Foundation, says the 40 roads must be addressed by the Safer Roads Fund.

Lord Whitty said: “This report shows that around 10% of the road sections studied have rates of death and serious injury which are simply unacceptable.

“These sections have risk some 50 times greater than the safest sections. The 2,500 miles of these roads need to be addressed as a short-term priority.

“Immediately, there are 40 persistently high risk roads which must be addressed by the Safer Roads Fund. The cost to the nation’s multi-billion transport infrastructure budget is just £75m.

“Getting back on track requires addressing road casualty reduction with purpose and determination. The fact that it also provides high economic returns means it is not just a humanitarian imperative.”

A separate report jointly published by the Road Safety Foundation and RAC Foundation earlier this month suggests the £100m Safer Roads Fund investment is on course to prevent almost 1,450 road deaths and serious injuries over the next two decades.

Last week, Labour questioned the Government as to the whereabouts of the £75m left unspent from the fund.



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    Thanks R(ob?). Some good challenges. Other interventions may help of course, but given that 85,000 casualties occur on 30mph urban roads, at least we need to ask whether 30mph is the right speed limit. In seeking an answer, I conclude that there are just two relevant questions:

    1) In any given situation, would a lower speed have reduced the probability or the severity of a collision? Physics dictates that there can only be one answer – YES

    2) Do lower speed limits in urban areas lead to lower speeds? The answer to this is more nuanced, but the evidence from around the world also lends support to a “YES”.

    Adrian Berendt, 20's Plenty for Kent, Tunbridge Wells
    Agree (2) | Disagree (5)

    Adrian I think that it is the case that the vast majority of collisions and casualties, the 86%you mention come from main arterial roads as opposed to residential estates that have proliferated over the last decade or so. So much so that I would not disagree that some 86% of such incidents in urban areas occur on these generally busy and sometimes congested roads.

    However I do feel that it would take more than a just reduction of speed that would eliminate most of such collisions and casualties being committed.

    Speed limits in towns were reduced to 20 mph in the early 1900’s and that limit was held in such contempt that the Government felt it necessary to remove that speed restriction and it’s more than likely that the same would apply again. That would be so if main roads remained at their present speed or if that speed was in fact reduced.

    I know that when it comes to smidsys, that they would not reduce and that they and rear end shunts will still be the most frequent of collisions at junctions and roundabouts together with the running into pedestrians trying to cross a busy road and not applying safety measures that would make crossing a lot safer. Such as use of the many safer crossing places designed specifically for their use or the green cross code.

    Agree (4) | Disagree (1)

    Ian. As 86% of casualties on 30mph roads are in urban areas, the analysis should hold up. I note that the Mayor for London has pledged to implement 20mph on all Transport for London routes, including ‘major through routes’, on the path to Vision Zero for London

    Adrian Berendt, 20's Plenty for Kent, Tunbridge Wells
    Agree (3) | Disagree (7)

    We have motorways which are segregated, everyone travels in the same direction (per c/way),three lanes for overtaking, no trenches or potholes, access and egress is gradual with good visibility and one could say their design is as good as it can be for reasonably fast, safe travel and yet..crashes happen, but no talk of them being high-risk dangerous roads. When the crashes do happen, it’s for the same reasons as they’re happening on the ‘A’ and ‘B’ roads. As I said earlier, no matter how good the road layout, some will still get it wrong.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (2) | Disagree (1)

    The vast majority of collisions that occur on 30mph routes do not occur in the residential areas that a 20 would cover but on the sections of major through routes that will invariably stay at 30mph. I would be interested to see if your figures stood up if this was taken into account.

    Iain, Edinburgh
    Agree (6) | Disagree (1)

    In answer to R Craven’s comment re design of highways, as a former Design Engineer before becoming a Road Safety and Accident Investigation Engineer, the design of high speed bends was and still is, a transition into the bend, followed by the radius of the bend, followed by a transition out of the bend. This may vary a lower speed such as 30mph bends. This information can be found in the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges which all Design Engineers work to.

    Derek C Donald, Inverness
    Agree (4) | Disagree (1)

    Bob – there are drivers and riders out there who would make a mess of even the most simplest of road layouts. Crashes happen on straight roads as well.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (6) | Disagree (0)

    If “a reduction of 1,450 KSIs in 20 years” is correct, it’s a poor use of money. £100m to save 72 KSIs per year? Spending £100m on converting 30mph roads to 20mph could save 10x the number of KSIs, as follows:

    . In 2017, there were 14,018 KSIs on 30mph roads (60% of the total)
    . £100m would be sufficient to cover 50% of the UK population (33m @ £3 per head)
    . Average speed reduction is around 1.5mph on roads converted from 30mph to 20mph – equivalent to 9% of collisions (DfT 1mph = 6% reduction)

    Formula = 30mph road casualties * UK population covered * reduced collisions —>

    14,018 * 50% * 9% = 733 fewer KSIs – that’s 10x the reduction in the existing plan

    Adrian Berendt, 20s Plenty for Kent, Tunbridge Wells
    Agree (3) | Disagree (11)

    Broadly, as per previous comments: Unsafe roads don’t exist; only unsafe road users.

    Nigel ALBRIGHT
    Agree (8) | Disagree (6)


    So many people, including motorcyclists, treat bends as a recreational risk-taking (or skill demonstrating) opportunity. Its not the “fault” of the road but the “fault” of a society and individual that persistently exaggerates the benefits of speed and unrealistic mobility.

    Most of our roads are fine apart from not providing adequate facilities for the most vulnerable road users. That’s what we should be spending the money on and re-examining our whole attitude to speed and risk-taking, including tail-gating.

    Most of the rest is merely tinkering and a distraction from the real issues of road safety.

    Rod King, Warrington
    Agree (5) | Disagree (8)

    But if that bend or situation were changed so that fewer or indeed no persons would come a cropper then that would be a good result wouldn’t it? Isn’t that a possibility.

    So often we can complain that it’s not the driver but a road manufacturing or engineering fault if so they too need attention and remedying. So often we can complain that it’s not the road but the driver that is at fault and they too need attention and remedying. That’s the way of things.

    Agree (3) | Disagree (1)

    Analysis of the collisions at these ‘hot spots’ would no doubt reveal faults on the part of at least one of the drivers and riders involved Bob. I have such a hot spot near me and in each case, those who have come a cropper were trying to go around a double bend too fast and lost control… it’s the same bend for those who didn’t lose control.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (5) | Disagree (4)

    It is known that there are various ‘Hot Spots’ or ‘Danger spots’ on some parts of some roads where there are more collisions/incidents occurring and they can be easily identified by the increased number of such. So it not a case of dangerous drivers but perhaps more of a case that this road, in this place needs to be looked at and determined whether there is a physical/ engineering problem with it. One that can be or may be a contributory factor to so many incidents.

    A prime example of this would be the manufacture of a reducing bend in any road. So many years ago and in olden time of horse and carriage. Where bends were made to be slightly curved on entry but then the bend would tighten up. This has persisted until today and can be seen or driven on where motorways merge, with junctions and on some slip road onto motorways which require bends. It occurs also on some main roads and some country roads which catch a drivers and motorcyclists out. Unless they can be easily identified as a reducing bend or severe bend, until that happens incidents will still happen on them.

    Agree (2) | Disagree (2)

    I wouldn’t mind betting that when there is no moving traffic on these roads, they mysteriously are not ‘high-risk’ at all. ‘High-risk’ drivers and riders on the other hand, give roads a bad name.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (5) | Disagree (3)

    We are all stuck with the term KSI and it is an industry standard whether we like it or not. Unfortunately it is a very coarse measure and can lead to inaccurate comparisons of risk/danger being made between different roads. Discussing KSIs can be a bit like counting fruit when one person is counting pumpkins and another is counting grapes one by one but neither knows what the other is doing. Not a sensible comparison is it?

    A more intelligent analysis is frequently required and this often involves reviewing the Stats19 list with the Mk1 eyeball and sifting accordingly.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (8) | Disagree (1)

    Spending £100m to reduce KSIs by 72.5 a year (£1.4m per KSI pa) should be compared with Bristol City Council spending £2.3m on its 20mph scheme with a suggested saving of 15 KSIs per year (£0.15m per KSI pa).

    It shows that taking a wide-area intervention approach can be far more cost-effective than a cluster-driven approach. Whilst we can all accept that there will be geographical clusters, homing in and prioritising those clusters fails to realise the potential for much greater benefits from wide-area interventions of lowering speeds with education, engagement and enforcement across complete communities.

    Rod King, Warrington
    Agree (4) | Disagree (12)

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