UK road travel could be as safe as rail and air 'within a generation'

The Road Safety Foundation report has highlighted areas where improvement is required
The Road Safety Foundation report has highlighted areas where improvement is required
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The road system in the UK could be as safe to use as rail and air travel “within a generation”.

That’s the conclusion of the Road Safety Foundation, following the publication of its annual ‘tracking report.

‘Making Road Travel as Safe as Rail and Air concludes that taking the ‘same systematic approach to measuring and managing risks” for roads as in the aviation and rail sectors is necessary if this improvement is to be made.

Road death toll

Pointing out that road deaths are now “10 times greater than all deaths in all workplaces added together”, the report adds that “greater discipline protecting road workers from risks than the general public using them”.

The report, which analyses crashes on the UK’s motorways and A roads outside urban areas, found that the largest single cause of death is running off the road (29 per cent), while the largest cause of serious injury occurs at junctions (33 per cent).

The South East is the area with the highest rate of death and serious injury on the network - more than 80 per cent higher than the risk in the West Midlands, which is the English region with the lowest rate of death and serious injury.

Other areas highlighted include England’s “most persistent high risk road” - the A285 between Chichester and Petworth in West Sussex. The rural, winding road is popular with motorcyclists who account for 39 per cent of crashes causing death or serious injury.

England’s most improved strategic road is a 13km section of the A1 near Newcastle.

Safety boost to economy

The report calls for government investment in safer infrastructure on high risk roads which the Road Safety Foundation believes will boost the economy.

Lord Whitty, chairman of the Road Safety Foundation, said: “All the persistent high risk roads identified in this report have rates of death and serious injury that are unacceptable. Some have been on the list for years.

“For the government’s new safety strategy to succeed, it must help remove the cultural and institutional obstacles that permit this chronic loss of life to continue.”