A £100m programme of works announced by the DfT earlier this year is on course to prevent almost 1,450 road deaths and serious injuries over the next two decades.
That is the assessment of the Road Safety Foundation and the RAC Foundation after analysis of dozens of schemes that have recently been awarded money from the Government’s Safer Roads Fund*.
The cash will be used to undertake a range of reengineering work, some of it as ‘simple and straightforward’ as putting in rumble strips, improving visibility at junctions and protecting or removing trees, poles or lighting columns
The work programme is based on the ‘Safe System’ approach which uses road engineering to try and prevent crashes from happening in the first place.
Safe System working recognises that humans are ‘error prone’ and some crashes are inevitable. To improve the survivability of these crashes roads and roadsides are reengineered to make them more forgiving when an incident occurs.
The £100m from the Safer Roads Fund is being used to improve safety along 48 of the country’s ‘riskiest stretches of council-managed A roads’.
The analysis by the Road Safety Foundation and the RAC Foundation estimates the ‘total value of the prevention of harm’ across the 48 schemes, over a 20-year period, to be £550m.
The total economic cost of the project over the 20 years will be £125 million – the initial £100 million capital investment plus £25 million of ongoing costs. Given the projected benefits of £550 million this means that for every £1 spent, there will be a societal benefit of £4.40.
The Road Safety Foundation and the RAC Foundation say this ‘demonstrates how road safety interventions can compete favourably with other major transport projects’.
Dr Suzy Charman (left), executive director of the Road Safety Foundation, said: “The dedication of the local authority teams has been truly exceptional, and together these schemes are estimated to save around 1,450 lives and serious injuries throughout their 20-year economic life.
“Although we have seen reasonable road casualty reductions on British roads over the last two decades, 2017 saw the highest annual death toll since 2011.
“Finding the right funding mechanisms for safety improvements to our road infrastructure is absolutely essential if we are to break the current plateau in the number of people being killed on our roads.
“The Safer Roads Fund has given us a truly innovative approach to tackling risky roads.”
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “This analysis marks the point at which the schemes have been identified and the money allocated. Now the practical works can start to re-engineer and rehabilitate some of the riskiest roads we have.
“The real prize from this initiative will be the evidence generated about how effective those schemes turn out to be, and the consequent ability that this will give us, we hope, to proactively and systematically set about lowering the risk profile of our roads more widely.”
On 13 June 2018 the Department for Transport announced the successful bids for the Safer Roads Fund which was made available to enable local authorities to improve the 50 most dangerous stretches of A roads in England.
In the event, one council decided not to apply for the funding on offer because it had already started improvement work on one of the risky roads it is responsible for, while another two stretches of road in the top 50 were treated as one for the purposes of the scheme, giving a total of 48 schemes which is the number referred to in the rest of this press release.
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