On the back of the report, Ageas is supporting the call from the Road Safety Foundation for the Government to make minimum safety levels central to any reform that results from the review of the finance and ownership of the major road network. 

Report highlights include:

  • Findings of huge economic rewards from low-cost safety engineering.
  • Britain’s busiest higher-risk roads are named with the A21 (A229 to Hastings) topping the league – the 10 busy higher-risk roads have higher than average traffic flows, a high crash density and an above average risk rating.
  • Single carriageways now six times more risky than motorways.
  • New average speed cameras and interactive speed signs feature strongly on most improved roads.
  • This year’s most improved road is a rural 20k (13 mile) single carriageway section of the A605 in Cambridgeshire.

Simple attention to safety engineering detail has resulted in significant cuts in road deaths and serious injuries. Fatal and serious injury crashes on just 10 stretches of treated roads fell by nearly two thirds from 541 to 209 (2001 – 2005 and 2006 – 2010) – a boost to the economy worth £35 million every year.

The use of speed enforcement with fixed and mobile cameras is on all but two of the most improved roads. Changes to the layout and traffic management at junctions are common features, and other measures include new traffic signals to control traffic flow; restricting turning movements onto roads with high traffic levels or poor visibility; widening entry and exit lanes with changes to the lining and signing; advanced warning signs; and installing high friction and coloured surfacing.

The Prime Minister has set this autumn as the deadline for a radical review of the finance and ownership of the major road network. Based on the report, the Foundation is calling on the Government to make safety central to any reform. The report suggests that minimum safety levels should be set which make sense to the public, to investors and to new operators of Britain’s major road infrastructure. Such a move would align Britain with leading countries that are already investing to upgrade safety on major roads. Dutch Ministers have announced a minimum 3-star safety rating for their national network by 2020 following an assessment of costs, benefits and practicality.

Dr Joanne Marden, Director of the Road Safety Foundation says: “The planned reforms in road financing means a new focus on measuring safety performance and the high returns quickly available from safety engineering. Where there is clear evidence of higher risk and heavy traffic flows, the economic case for intervention is compelling. With two per cent of GDP lost in road crashes as well as lives, we can get quick, guaranteed returns by raising safety levels. The government must make minimum safety levels the centrepiece of any reform. Even a modest ambition to improve these sections of road - so they simply get an ‘average’ risk rating and became six times more risky than motorways -  would save many lives and cost savings to the economy of £20m annually.”

Commenting on the study, Barry Smith, Chief Executive, Ageas says: “You cannot manage what you do not measure. As taxpayers, we spend around £10bn each year on roads. Insurers pay out £10bn to meet the cost of crash claims. I fully support the Foundation’s annual publication as the key measure of the safety of Britain’s roads, demonstrating the need for tougher action on high risk roads and minimum safety standards. Any reform must be considered as part of a wider pack of measures that also address driver behaviour and vehicle safety.”

The report is sponsored by Ageas and has today been launched at a Parliamentary reception at the House of Lords, presented to influential bodies from across the Government and motoring and safety organisations.

Dr Marden adds: “The Foundation is truly grateful for the support of Ageas because, without it, there would be no British results measuring how safe our roads are and no way of evidencing the impact that even minimum safety standards can have.”