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Road investment essential for UK to meet 'safest in the world' claim

10 February 2010

UK roads can be the safest in the world over the next decade if the same high return investment in safe road design is made as other leading nations, according to a new report.

The Government says that the nation’s roads are the ‘safest in the world’, but the study by the Road Safety Foundation reveals that:

  • Only 50% of motorways achieved the expected top four-star level rating compiled by the European Road Assessment Programme (EuroRAP) for rating
  • Roads on how well their design protects users from death or disabling injury when a crash occurs. Its sister programme, EuroNCAP, similarly measures the crash protection provided by new cars.
  • 78% of the dual carriageway network rate achieved a three-star rating
  • Two-thirds of English trunk road single carriageways rated two stars

The star rating system is internationally recognised and is part of a new approach by leading authorities to make road infrastructure safer.

The UK’s least safe stretch of motorway, dual carriageway and single carriageway, according to the report, are respectively: a 17km stretch of the M40 from junction 15 to the M42 (J3A); a 27km stretch of the A419 from Swindon to Cirencester; and a 16km stretch of the A5 from Daventry to Rugby (A428).

The assessment of roads considered three key elements: the protection provided if vehicles run off the road; the risk of head-on collisions; and the safety of junctions.

John Dawson, chairman of EuroRAP, said: “Road crashes cost the British economy 1.5% of GDP, some £18 billion, annually. A fortune is being spent on emergency services, hospitalisation and long term care of victims when we could make road travel as safe as rail or air. UK roads can be the safest in the world over the next decade if the same high return investment in safe road design is made as other leading nations.”

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