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Road Safety Foundation tracking data 2013

24 October 2013

'Measuring to Manage: Tracking the safety of Britain’s major road network”  report published.

• Report analyses the 44,373km (11%) of Britain’s network where 51% of Britain’s road deaths take place: motorways and A roads outside major urban areas
• Risk to road users is now 7 times greater on single carriageway A roads than motorways
• Running off the road accounts for 30% of all deaths
• Junction crashes are the most common crash leading to serious injury
• 99% of motorways are rated in the ‘low risk’ category; 97% of single carriageway A roads are not
• Britain’s economy loses more than 2% of GDP in road crashes
• Overall risk of death and serious injury on motorways and A roads is lowest in the West Midlands and highest in the East Midlands
• The most improved region is the East of England with a 30% fall in risk

In its Action for Roads proposals, the government has recognised that Britain is falling behind other countries and has announced “the biggest ever upgrade of our existing roads worth up to £50bn over the next generation”. It is also proposing that the Highways Agency is turned into a publicly owned corporation. With road crashes costing two per cent of GDP and other countries managing infrastructure in a new way, the Road Safety Foundation’s 2013 report “Measuring to Manage” calls for the new investment to be targeted so that the safety of the network is raised in a measurable way using world class techniques.

Dr Steve Lawson, director of the Road Safety Foundation says: “Most recent improvement in road safety has come from car design and safer driving. The specification that authorities currently set road managers is to reduce crash rates in general. That approach is too weak and must be replaced, because it muddles factors over which road managers have no control – such as car safety, hospital care and traffic levels - with factors very definitely under their control such as roadside safety barriers or junction layouts. Road managers need not only money, but the tools and goals to measure and manage infrastructure safety. Many proposals in government’s Action for Roads are sound, but there is need now to focus on improving infrastructure safety itself in a measurable way.”
These words are reflected starkly in the report, which shows dramatically the dominance of crashes at junctions leading to serious trauma and of death from running off the road.

The report highlights typical improvements leading to major reductions in serious crashes. These include removal of roadside hazards (such as trees, rigid poles or lighting columns), the introduction of interactive warning signs, anti-skid surfacing and road studs. For junction crashes, improved layout, signing, lining, resurfacing with high friction treatments and better tailored local speed limits were common.

The report also celebrates the work of a group of authorities who have made significant improvements to their roads. A remarkable 70% drop in serious crashes – some 250 fatal and serious injury crashes saved – on the ten most improved sections achieved by a variety of infrastructure improvements.
The measurements of the safety of UK roads were carried out using international benchmarks developed by the European Road Assessment Programme. Chair of EuroRAP, John Dawson, comments: “With new investment, Britain can join leading countries which are raising safety in a transparent, systematic way. The British public knows the safety rating of the cars they’re buying but not their roads.”

Some key facts:
• 1,754 people were killed on Britain’s roads in 2012
• 11,457 were killed on British roads in the 5 year survey period 2007-2011 compared with 16,533 in the previous 5 years, a drop of 31%
• The 44,373km network of motorways and A roads outside major urban areas analysed in this report represents just 11% of Britain’s road length - but carries 56% of traffic and more than half (51%) of all deaths
• Motorways and dual carriageways have seen the greatest improvement with a 24% reduction in the survey. The improvement for single carriageways is 18%
• On average, 4 people are killed or seriously injured on each mile of motorway and A roads outside major urban areas each decade
• In the 2007-2011 data period, single carriageway A roads are 7 times more risky than motorways. In the 2002-2006 period this figure was 6.
• Travel on single carriageways is 3 times more risky than dual carriageways
• 62% of fatal and serious crashes occur on single carriageway A roads, 12% on duals, 15% on mixed single/dual and 11% on motorways
• The most common crashes on motorways and A roads leading to death are run-offs (30%) The most common crashes leading to either death or serious injury occur at junctions
• (36%)
• 21% of fatal and serious crashes involved pedestrians or cyclists; 10% were head-ons and 8% shunts
• 22% of fatal crashes involved pedestrians or cyclists; 19% were head-ons and 6% shunts
• 99% of motorways are rated in the ‘low risk’ category; 97% of single carriageways are not
• The British economy loses more than 2% of GDP in road crashes
• British road users pay 1% of GDP on motor insurance
• In the last five years, Britain suffered serious injury costs of £1.9 billion on motorways, £8.4 billion on primary A roads and £5.9 billion on non-primary A roads
• Motorways account for 36% of travel on the network analysed, 18% on duals and 32% on singles
• Motorcyclists make up just 1% of traffic but 21% of fatal and serious crashes on Britain’s motorways and A roads

The report is sponsored by Ageas, whose chief executive, Andy Watson says: “As the economy recovers, we can no longer rely on depressed demand to reduce road casualties. If we are to succeed in making road use no more risky than any other activity in daily life then we need relentless combined action, year after year, on safer driving, safer vehicles and safer roads.
“The government has recognised Britain has been falling behind on infrastructure investment. Improvement in infrastructure safety performance now needs to be at the heart and not peripheral to the new plans being prepared.
“As Britain’s second largest motor insurer, Ageas is once again pleased to support this annual publication from the Foundation, ultimately making roads safer for our employees, our customers and our partners. It makes public debate possible on where progress is or is not being made in making roads safer and how we should best plan for the future.”

The next 10 years
The Road Safety Foundation has used the same EuroRAP risk rating categories for 10 years, with highest-risk roads in black and safest roads in green. This current report is the last to use these bands, which will change for the next 10 years. Just as sister organisation EuroNCAP is tightening its criteria for a 5-star car, EuroRAP is placing higher demands on road engineers to raise standards for road safety.

Notes to editors
“Measuring to Manage: Tracking the safety of Britain’s major road network” report is temporarily available at http://www.roadsafetyfoundation.org/british-eurorap-results-2013-embargoed-content.aspx) and will be on the Road Safety Foundation website on Thursday 24 October.

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