Savings in the cost of road crashes costing 1.5% of GDP and worth £18bn annually are readily achievable, according to a report published on 30 June.
The high costs of emergency services, hospitals and long-term care for the disabled can often be avoided through little more than the cost of a pot of paint, according to the annual road tracking survey carried out by the Road Safety Foundation – the largest analysis of its type anywhere in the world, covering 28,000 miles.
Key findings in ‘GB EuroRAP Results 2010: Saving Lives for Less’, which shows where the high risk roads on which road trauma and high costs are concentrated, include:
• 10% of Britain’s motorways and A roads have unacceptably high risk
• Half of all fatal collisions occur on one-tenth of Britain’s road network
• Scotland has the highest average risk rating of all regions
• West Midlands is the safest region, with the lowest average risk rating
The survey also identifies:
• Specific roads that are 10 times more prone to death and serious injury than others in the UK’s network
• That one-third of all fatal and serious collisions occur at junctions
• That single carriageways are six times the risk of motorways and twice that of duals
• One in seven primary roads is high risk compared to one in 33 non-primary.
Consultation with road authorities on improvements show that simple, relatively inexpensive engineering measures are paying dividends, contributing to more than 70% fewer fatal and serious collision in the last three years on the top 10 roads listed.
Improvements to signing and markings, resurfacing, particularly the use of high-friction anti-skid treatments, and the layout and signing of junctions are common.
Dr Joanne Hill, director of the Road Safety Foundation says: "As the road budget becomes tighter, emphasis must be on saving lives with less. It means systematic attention to detail, prioritising treatment of the highest risk routes most likely to benefit from low-cost, high-return countermeasures.
"This report shows that not only can Britain reduce roads deaths and serious injuries but that, by targeting a relatively small mileage of high risk roads, we can do so with good economic returns.
“Too often we pay for emergency services, hospitals and care for the disabled rather than taking easy steps to put road design faults right.
"There are practical examples of how, with attention to detail, some authorities are slashing the toll of death and serious injury on high risk stretches by as much as three-quarters.
“Simple, relatively inexpensive engineering measures, such as improvements to signing and lining, resurfacing and the layout of signals at junctions, are paying dividends and are affordable particularly when done as part of well planned routine maintenance. "