The Road Safety Foundation claims that its annual tracking survey shows that ‘more than 300 people in the UK are alive today or have avoided the prospect of a lifetime of special care because just 15 roads have had simple improvements put in place’.
The Foundation says that on these 15 roads, fatal and serious crashes dropped by 62% – from 494 to 190.
The Foundation report, Simple Measures Save Lives, shows that elementary safety measures are paying back the costs of investment in an average of 10 weeks. The Foundation says the savings are worth more than £50m annually to emergency services, the NHS, local authority care, businesses and families.
This year’s most improved road is an 11km section of the A4128 through Buckinghamshire from Great Missenden to High Wycombe. Over the last two surveys, it has moved from one of Britain’s highest risk roads to one of the safest. Over this time, fatal and serious collisions dropped from 19 to two. Safety measures put in place include new speed restrictions and innovative use of solar-powered road studs to improve night-time visibility.
Referring to the 15 improved routes, Dr Joanne Hill says: “These are practical, largely inexpensive solutions which will pay back the costs of investment in an average of 10 weeks – a 500% rate of return in the first year alone – and go on saving lives and money for the nation for many years to come. Much of this remedial work can be done as part of routine maintenance.”
Britain’s most persistently high risk roads are concentrated in the North West and East Midlands. Many routes in these areas are rural single carriageway, challenging to drive, with frequent blind corners and sweeping bends. Lighter traffic allows higher speeds and opportunities for safe overtaking can be restricted.
Topping the list, once more, is the A537 Macclesfield to Buxton, known as the Cat and Fiddle. This 12km section across the Peak District National Park has seen crashes rise by 62% in the last three years, with the equivalent of three fatal or serious injury crashes for every 3km. A 50mph single carriageway, the route has severe bends, steep falls from the carriageway and is edged by dry-stone walls or rock face for almost all of its length. Even with motorcycle collisions removed, the road tops Britain’s 10 high risk roads.
Dr Joanne Hill concludes: “Busy, high-risk roads can be eliminated affordably with high economic returns. Over the last three years, the number of fatal crashes on motorways and A roads has dropped by 21%. Over the past decade average risk on Britain’s motorways and A roads has halved. While motorways and dual carriageways are moving towards the ‘low risk’ benchmark, the risk levels on non-primary single carriageway A roads in particular remain a cause for concern. These roads account for a large proportion of fatal and serious crashes and the majority of these routes are rated as ‘higher risk’.
“We need to design out the hidden surprises that can result in tragic consequences. ‘Simple Measures Save Lives’ details the success stories in reducing the most serious crashes and shows how affordable investment in simple measures works. The challenge for the next decade is to help authority leaders and public understand that the tragedy and cost of routine, predictable road deaths is avoidable.”
This latest report marks 10 years of data from the Road Safety Foundation, and comes as the world joins together to tackle road casualties in the first UN Decade of Action for Road Safety.