Inexpensive safety measures on roads ‘save hundreds of lives’

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An estimated 300 deaths and serious injuries have been avoided owing to fewer dangers on the 15 UK roads where safety has improved the most.

In many cases, safety records have got better thanks to simple improvements, the Road Safety Foundation (RSF) said. On these 15 roads, fatal and serious-injury crashes have gone down 62 per cent, dipping from 494 in the period 2004-6 to 190 in 2007-9.

The most-improved road is a 6.9 miles stretch of the A4128 from Great Missenden to High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, where fatal and serious crashes have gone down from 19 in 2004-6 to just two in 2007-9.

In contrast, the most “dangerous” road is a 7.5 mile section of the A537 from Macclesfield to Buxton in Derbyshire.

At one of the most-improved roads, a six-mile section of the A74M to junction 44 of the M6 near Carlisle, deaths and serious injuries have dropped from 15 in 2004-6 to two in 2007-9 following the completion in 2008 of the missing link section of motorway known as the Cumberland Gap.

Improvements on the 15 roads include new signings, improved junction designs, speed enforcement and resurfacing.

RSF director Dr Joanne Hill said: “These are practical, largely inexpensive solutions which will pay back the costs of investment in an average of 10 weeks and go on saving lives and saving money for the nation for many years to come. Much of this remedial work can be done as part of routine maintenance.”

The RSF’s latest report showed that Britain’s most persistently high-risk roads are concentrated in north west England and East Midlands. Routes in these areas are rural single carriageway, challenging to drive, with frequent blind corners and sweeping bends. The “worst” road – the A537 in Derbyshire – is a 50mph single carriageway, with severe bends and steep falls from the carriageway.