Report available on engineering for safer UK roads

The Road Safety Foundation has issued a report for local authorities on the benefits of targeted initiatives for road network improvements.

Targeting high risk roads

With funding for road improvements remaining tight and local authorities struggling to prioritise works to maximise the benefits achieved from the budgets they work within, the Road Safety Foundation has produced a report which provides a list of initiatives that councils can use to help them target risk points and thereby reduce deaths and serious injuries on the roads in their networks.

The ability to target the most high risk sections of the road network is a key element in reducing casualties since around 10% of main rural roads being responsible for up to 50% of fatalities. On these roads, the risk varies from section to section as well as between different types of road users, most of which are passenger car occupants. Such vehicles reach speeds on rural stretches of road which are beyond those which can be mitigated effectively by the vehicle safety systems alone. Deaths and serious injuries are therefore higher in these circumstances.

The Road Safety Foundation report, “Engineering Safer Roads: Star Rating Roads for in-built safety” provides not only a list of the initiatives but also the costs and benefits of each, supported by case studies involving two main roads in the country where improvements have been achieved (A404) and where they are still needed (A285).

Case studies

The two case studies detailed in the report cover the A404 in Buckinghamshire stretching 6 miles (9km) between the M25 motorway and the town of Amersham. After being the site of 12 crashes between 2007 and 2009 resulting in 2 deaths and serious injuries per mile, the local authority carried out a number of low-cost measures to improve it. These involved some re-surfacing work, changes to road markings and reduced speed limit.

Pedestrian crossing facilities were also improved in those areas where pedestrians were judged to be most vulnerable. As a result of these improvements, serious collisions were cut by 88% and pedestrian deaths were cut to zero for the period between 2010 and 2012.

In contrast, the A285 between Petworth and Chichester in West Sussex has seen an increase in risk from 2007-2009 to 2010-2012 of 17%. Throughout these two periods, 47 people have been killed or seriously injured on the 12 mile (19km) stretch of road.

The Road Safety Foundation has studied the road and have made proposals to West Sussex county council regarding the use of road edge rumble strips, hatching in the central lane, greater roadside hazard clearance and improvements to street lighting and road markings. Implementing these improvements could save 45 people from death or serious injury over the next two decades.

The Road Safety Foundation’s report author is Caroline Moore who commented, “Getting the most out of existing budgets is an imperative. Serious road crashes are expensive and this report shows that interventions are often simple and cost effective.  As central government increasingly devolves responsibility for the costs of health and long term care, there are now new reasons for local authorities to study the cost of road crashes on their road network and why bringing ‘A’ roads up to a minimum 3-star standard for in-built safety in the period to 2030 makes sense.”

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Road Construction

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