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Saving Lives, Saving Money

4 April 2011

Billions of pounds and 6,000 lives could be saved by focused road improvements over the next 10 years if just a fraction of the money currently spent on road maintenance was used more effectively, according to a new report.

Britain loses up to £30 billion (2.3% GDP) annually in the cost of road crashes, most of which falls on busy, targetable motorways and main roads according toSaving Lives, Saving Money: the costs and benefits of achieving safe roads, a report for theRAC Foundation by the Road Safety Foundation.

The report shows how, within existing budgets, 1-star and 2-star roads can be eliminated in the next decade, with benefits worth £25-£35 billion. Achieving the savings will require that road authority leaders are offered guidance to focus on the full costs and benefits of saving the most lives for the money available.

The report also calls for:

• The government’s upcoming Strategic Framework for Road Safety to make the Highways Agency - Britain’s single largest crash cost centre – the model of best practice from which UK authorities can learn;

• New good practice guidance for authority leaders and professionals on generating and evaluating safety schemes so 1- and 2-star roads are eliminated and dual carriageways and motorways are brought up to high safety standards

• Parliament and the Treasury to examine the value for money that can be provided by programmes to reduce death and injury and investigate how institutional barriers to rational investment and priority setting can be overcome;

• Technical improvements to the evaluation of crash costs and recording of serious crashes by police and hospitals, with more focus on long-term care and the true financial costs of road crashes to healthcare and emergency services;

• The insurance industry to study the initiatives in other countries where the cost of damage and injury claims has been driven down successfully through improved safety.

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