A new report by the Road Safety Foundation includes a list of measures local authorities can take to target risk points on roads, along with the cost and value of the benefits each initiative brings.
The report, ‘Engineering Safer Roads: Star Rating Roads for in-built safety’, says with half of road deaths concentrated on just 10% of the busy main road network outside major towns and cities, targeting can pay substantial dividends.
The report also includes two examples, one where the road has been improved and is now saving lives and money (A404); and the other where the Foundation says improvements are needed (A285).
The A404 in Buckinghamshire is described as “the UK’s most improved road”. Between 2007-09, the six-mile stretch between the M25 and Amersham suffered two deaths and serious injuries every mile and was rated medium-high risk.
Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire County Councils carried out a programme of “low cost and straightforward measures” that included re-surfacing, improved road markings, lowering the speed limit and improving pedestrian crossings. Together with improvements from behaviour and vehicles, fatal and serious crashes involving vehicle occupants were cut by 88%, while deaths and injuries to pedestrians fell from four to zero in the 2010-12 period.
The A285 in West Sussex is described at “the UK’s persistently highest risk road”. In 2014, the Road Safety Foundation reported that the risk increased by 17% between 2007-09 and 2010-12 – against a background of a national reduction in crashes.
Interventions proposed by the Road Safety Foundation for detailed investigation include rumble strips along roadside edges, central lane hatching, clearance of roadside hazards, street lighting, and marking improvements.
The Foundation says a spend of £3m will give an economic return of £11m over the economic life of the investment; while some proposed interventions at specific points might repay costs four times over.
Caroline Moore, author of the report, said: “Serious road crashes are expensive and this report shows that interventions are often simple and cost effective.
“As central government increasingly devolves responsibility for the costs of health and long term care, there are now new reasons for local authorities to study the cost of road crashes on their road network.”