There has been much publicity recently about the high number of deaths on country roads.
The DfT reports that 60% of fatalities occur on country roads and 11 times more people die on country roads in England and Wales than on motorways. There were an average three deaths every day on rural roads.
The Road Safety Foundation reports that high risk roads tend to be a combination of rural and more built up sections, with frequent junctions, varying speed limits and used heavily by local commuters.
Single-lane A-roads are Britain’s most dangerous roads. Drivers are six times more likely to crash on a single lane carriageway than on a motorway. Junctions pose the highest risk to drivers, where one third of serious and fatal accidents happen.
GeoScientist reported in 2012 that all the UK’s local roads were deteriorating. At present the UK ranks 24th in the world for the quality of its road infrastructure as reported by the World Economic Forum 2012. According to the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Lincolnshire’s road conditions are among the worst in the UK.
In 2010 the A18 was declared to be the most dangerous length of road for car drivers anywhere in the country.
It is a 60 mile stretch which manages to bring together all the worst features that make A-roads so dangerous: single lane way; junctions with minor roads; limited visibility; slow-moving vehicles; deceptive bends; steep embankments; soft edges gouged out by heavy vehicles; bends of 90 degrees; narrow road.
Another important factor that may determine the likelihood and severity of an accident is a combination of geography and finance. ‘Maintenance is seen as an easy thing to cut back,’ John Dawson, the chairman of the Campaign for Safe Road Design, says. ‘You have the ludicrous situation that in order to protect health spending you cut the road safety spending, which then sends more people into emergency wards and long-term care.’
Road safety campaigners argue that only £4 billion of the £47 billion in taxes collected from motorists goes into improving roads and point to World Health Organisation estimates that road accidents cost Britain up to £18 billion a year.
In a recent exchange with Lincolnshire Highways Department they told me they refused to sanction improvements to a dangerous stretch of road because (a) it was no more dangerous than another stretch of (dangerous) road and (b) because the obstructions reducing visibility would “slow down the traffic”.
I have never understood that the remit of the Highways Department was to cause traffic to slow down or not to improve an obviously dangerous situation.
As John Dawson, an AA Policy Director, had said: “We cannot demand 5 star car safety from manufacturers and then settle for one star roads.
We have to make roads more forgiving. Everyday human error should not result in a death sentence.”
Iris Dainton (Mrs)