Britain can cut its toll of road deaths and serious injuries by a third simply by investing in better road design, saving 30 lives or serious injuries a day and Britain’s economy £6bn a year.

According to the Campaign for Safe Road Design, a consortium of the UK’s leading road user, road safety and road design bodies, and launched at the House of Lords today a third of Britain’s serious injuries or fatalities on the roads are preventable over the next 10 years with just a modest investment – primarily in signs, lines, kerbing and barriers.

In the last 10 years 375,000 people have been killed or seriously injured in road safe crashes in this country, bleeding away 1.5% of GDP annually: more than the UK’s spend on primary schools and double its spend on GPs.

The Campaign for Safe Road Design says that the toll of 10,000 deaths and serious injuries a year will continue if government does not take action on safe road design, particularly on roads outside major towns where two-thirds of road deaths occur. These are concentrated on A-roads which can be easily targeted.

Chairman of the campaign, John Dawson says: “A safe road system means road users who obey traffic law, manufacturers who provide safe vehicles and authorities who provide safe roads.

“The government has been tightening traffic law, not least in the enforcement of speed limits. The safety standard of new vehicles has soared from a typical 2-star to a 4-star car crash NCAP rating after the introduction of the programme in the 1990s.

“As the government prepares its road safety strategy beyond 2010, we must now, as other leading countries have done, turn our attention to the safety features built into our roads.”

Achieving a safe road system in Britain

Two thirds of road deaths are outside towns and are concentrated on busy ‘A’ roads.

Over the last five years, EuroRAP, the European Road Assessment Programme, has mapped the UK’s road network to highlight and rate levels of risk throughout.

The Road Safety Foundation, which carries out this mapping for EuroRAP in the UK, has analysed 10 years of data on 850 sections of the UK primary road network and identified roads where greatest gains have been made and those where there is still room for improvement.

The Campaign is calling for a safe road infrastructure programme targeted on the busy roads where most deaths occur.

“The social and economic returns are among the highest in the economy,” says John Dawson. “While any road design programme must be delivered by local authorities, we need a commitment from the government to make safe road infrastructure programmes central to its road safety strategy beyond 2010.

“The programme we propose should win wide support not just because it stands to save 10,000 lives and disabling injuries every year, but because it is quick, certain, and affordable with a return on investment other programmes cannot match.”