Foundation calls for “measurable investment’ in roads

12.00 | 24 October 2013 | | 2 comments

The Road Safety Foundation has published its annual report which measures and maps the risk of death and serious injury on motorways and ‘A’ roads outside cities.

The report, ‘Measuring to Manage’, shows road travel is getting measurably safer, particularly because of improving vehicle safety. On the back of the report, the Road Safety Foundation is calling for Government investment to be “targeted so the safety of the network is raised in a measurable way using world class” techniques.

The report shows that single carriageway roads are now seven times more risky than motorways. It also shows that the main crash type causing death is running off the road, and the main crash type causing serious injury are "brutal" junction impacts.

The report highlights Britain’s most improved road stretches where road managers have often paid attention to road layout and detail to prevent significant death and serious trauma. It also shows that Britain’s safest regions to live are where single carriageways are safer and the majority of travel is on safer motorway. It shows the most improved region is the east of England and the least safe is the East Midlands.

The report highlights typical improvements which have led to big reductions in serious crashes which 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. Measures successfully deployed to reduce crashes at junctions include improved layout, signing, lining, resurfacing with high friction treatments, and tailored local speed limits.

It also celebrates the work of authorities who have made significant improvements to their roads.  It highlights a “remarkable” 70% drop in serious crashes – 250 fatal and serious injury crashes saved – on the country’s 10 most improved road sections, achieved through a variety of infrastructure improvements.

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 (report) are sound, but there is a need now to focus on improving infrastructure safety itself in a measurable way.”

The measurements of the safety of UK roads were carried out using international benchmarks developed by the European Road Assessment Programme (EuroRAP).

John Dawson, chair of EuroRAP, said: “With new investment, Britain can join leading countries which are raising safety in a transparent, systematic way. The British public knows the safety rating of the cars they’re buying, but not their roads.”

Click here to access the full report and for a series of risk rating maps for the UK and regions across the UK.


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    Excellent! Particularly pleased by the emphasis on reduction in roadside hazards that all too often make accidents much worse than they would otherwise be. Also on vehicle activated signs, far more cost effective than cameras (not mentioned at all) while warning not just of risk ahead but what sort of risk.

    I agree with Dr. Lawson too that it is pointless to set anyone targets for results out of their control. Dare I hope that those who select winners of road safety awards will now follow the same logic?

    Idris Francis Fight Back with Facts Petersfield
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Road management means all things to do with the road and my question is in regard to the road surface. I ride a lot on my motorcycle on A, B, Motorways and country roads and I see the deterioration that has taken place in them, much more than a car driver would or indeed a highway surveyor perhaps.

    I would question the new formulas of skid resistant material now in use. Many of the old roads, as an example, have large aggregate something like 2 and a half centimetres bound by bitumen. But the new surfaces being put down all over the place are with aggregates no more than one centimetres in size. By that I mean side streets and arterial roads in towns that take traffic at 30 mph. And the same on A and B roads that take vehicles at 60 mph, and the other day on a short motorway run I counted at least 5 different surfaces on 3 different motorways.

    I tend therefore to feel that the roads are being repaired with whatever tarmac the industry has at the time, and is non specific to use and the authority can buy and not replacing like for like – ie good skid resistant surfaces for ones with a poorer quality.

    bob craven Lancs
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