CUTTING THE COST OF DANGEROUS ROADS
A lifetime of care following a road crash can cost more than £20m. In total, Britain loses 1-2% of GDP in road crashes. The £36bn lost annually is more than is spent on GP services and primary schools combined.
Half of all Britain’s road deaths are concentrated on just 10% of the road network – the motorways and ‘A’ roads outside urban cores. This annual report maps and analyses the risks of death and serious injury on this network where so much loss of life and economic cost is concentrated.
The largest single cause of death on this network is from vehicles running off the road. Brutal crashes at junctions are the largest cause of serious injury.
In 2016, the Chancellor enabled the Department for Transport to establish an innovative Safer Roads Fund to target ‘the 50 most dangerous local ‘A’ roads’ in England identified by last year’s analysis. The Safer Roads Fund rapidly triggered a new systematic and proactive approach by dozens of local authorities. High return schemes to treat roadsides, junctions and provide pedestrian facilities along these high risk routes are being prepared.
The need to act is pressing. As the economy recovers following the financial crisis, crash costs are increasing across most of Britain. Only 1% of road sections improved during the survey period. The South East of England is now the riskiest region where risks rose by nearly 10%.
The most improved road in this survey is a stretch of the A4151 in Gloucestershire. Road crashes were reduced by nearly 90% through simple attention to road engineering detail – signing, road markings, safe pedestrian crossings and the right speed limits in the right place.
Overall, the 10 most improved roads saw deaths and serious injuries fall by 74%. The crash costs saved on just these roads alone had an economic value of £17m per year.
This year’s report identifies more than 550 ‘black’ and ‘red’ sections which pose unacceptably high risk, just over 6,000km of road. The Safer Roads Fund has no shortage of candidates for its next priority tranche.
The Road Safety Foundation has collaborated with Ageas to provide a new interactive Road Crash Index to complement this report. This enables anyone to look up how their county ranks in recent safety improvement and see the cost of road crashes locally.