Measures such as lower speed limits and better junctions and road markings have led to a fall of more than 90 per cent in fatal or serious crashes involving a cyclist or pedestrian on the country’s most improved roads for safety, according to a new report from the Road Safety Foundation (RSF).
The organisation’s latest annual report, How Safe Are You Driving On Britain’s Roads?, says a section of the A404 from Amersham to Junction 19 of the M25 in Buckinghamshire is the country’s most improved road.
However, a stretch of the A285 running from Chichester to Petworth in West Sussex has been designated the country’s most persistently dangerous one.
The report covers 44,375 kilometres of motorways and primary and non-primary A roads linking towns and cities throughout Britain, although it excludes city centres.
It accounts for 10 per cent of the nation’s road network, but half of all road deaths take place on them.
On the 15 roads – three of them motorways – listed as having “a statistically significant reduction in the number of fatal or serious collisions over time,” the total number of fatal or serious crashes fell from 237 to 52 between the periods 2007-09 and 2010-12, a reduction of 80 per cent.
The number of those incidents in which a cyclist or pedestrian was involved saw an even higher drop – down by 91 per cent from 65 to just six.
The RSF said that the reduction in fatal and serious crashes on those 15 most improved roads resulted in “an economic saving of £25m or £110,000 per kilometre annually.”
Reduced speed limits and improved junctions were among the reasons cited for the reduction, although routine maintenance also played a major role.
“Authorities commonly report that many of the most effective improvements have not, surprisingly, been carried out specifically to improve road safety,” said the RSF's engineering manager, James Bradford.
“Often the pressing need to carry out very basic maintenance has initiated action and the additional safety enhancements were a later addition. Scheduling in this way is extraordinarily cost effective. 90 per
cent of routes listed contained work on resurfacing, signing and marking."
However, the report noted that in terms of the overall road network, “only 3% of road sections analysed this year showed a significant reduction in serious crashes.”
The stretch of the A404 running through the South Downs that tops the list of the most persistently dangerous roads saw an increase of 16 per cent in fatal or serious crashes between the two three-year periods analysed.
The report said that “the route has seen a number of low cost safety measures implemented over time but, because of the significant number of bends on the route, it requires more far reaching intervention in keeping with an area of outstanding natural beauty.”
One of Britain’s most notorious roads, the A537 Cat & Fiddle from Buxton to Macclesfield across the Derbyshire Dales and Peak District, was found to be the 28th most improved road due to reduced speed limits. It remains the most persistently dangerous road in the North West, however.
Particularly popular with motorcyclists, one biker was convicted of dangerous driving earlier this year after he fell 40 feet down an escarpment at the side of the road when he nearly hit a car head on, risking his own life and those of the vehicle’s occupants.
Jack Sanderson, aged 21, escaped unhurt and said he had posted helmetcam footage to YouTube as a warning to others but the video went viral and soon came to the attention of the police.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.