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Road travel could be as safe as rail or air, says Road Safety Foundation

Travelling on our road system could be made as safe as on rail and air within a generation, according to The Road Safety Foundation.

The charity carried out its annual analysis of crashes on the British network of motorways and A roads outside urban cores, in partnership with Ageas UK.

It found road deaths are now 10 times greater than all deaths in all workplaces added together.

It believes the same systematic approach to measuring and managing risks needs to be applied to roads as that taken by industries ranging from medicine to mining as well as aviation and rail, where deaths are far less frequent. 

“A lifetime of care for a single trauma victim can cost more than £20m. This report identifies the authorities with high costs from road crashes, and shows how risks can be reduced and lives saved with economic returns that are higher, quicker and more certain than from most projects competing for funds.

“We can now identify roads where risk is 20-times higher on some roads than others; and regions where the risk of death and serious injury on the main roads might be twice that of another,” said Lord Whitty, Road Safety Foundation chairman.

Some key facts in the report:

  • In the South East, risk is over 80% higher than the risk for the network in the West Midlands, the English region with the lowest rate of death and serious injury.
  • The cost of road crashes in Hampshire, Kent and Essex each exceed £0.5 billion over the three year data period 2012-14.
  • The largest single cause of death is running off the road (29%); the largest cause of serious injury is at junctions (33%).
  • An estimated 2% of total GDP is lost in road crashes.
  • Highways England handles the biggest single crash costs of any authority: £2.1 billion over the three year period.

This year’s Foundation report, Making Road Travel as Safe as Rail and Air also highlights the regions with the highest risk roads. It lists persistently high risk roads with little or no change, and highlights the modest actions by authorities on the 10 most improved roads that led to local falls in serious crashes from 168 to 53 (-68%).    

The most improved road is the A227 between Tonbridge and the A25 near Borough Green. Kent County Council is responsible for this road, and has introduced a routine maintenance regime. In addition to a signing and lining package, there are yellow backed signs in hazardous locations, good use of double white lines, speed limit roundels and road safety education packages.

Improved roads are those where there has been a statistically significant reduction in the number of fatal and serious crashes over time. Only 2% of roads on the Risk Mapped network have shown a significant reduction in fatal and serious crashes. 

Between 2009-11 and 2012-14, fatal and serious crashes on the roads listed fell by 68% from 168 to 53. This led to an annual economic saving for fatal and serious crashes of £20 million in 2013 values.

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Comments

  • John Davidge - 15/11/2016 12:26

    Unlikely that road travel will become as safe as rail and air until we deal effectively with the human component - the driver. Huge resources are invested in training pilots and train drivers - but not car drivers. Drivers are just taught to pass a test but pilots are taught to fly and retrained regularly on different types of aircraft - no comparison. Of course road investments are good to see but roads don't crash, drivers do.

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