Britain’s Most Dangerous Roads

Think of a dangerous road. Go on. What springs to mind? A treacherous mountain trail? An ice-covered Arctic pass? A rickety pontoon bridge? A desolate desert highway? Or maybe the A537, between Knutsford in the gentle county of Cheshire and Buxton, the highest town in England? Probably not. However, this single carriage road – or, more specifically, the 7.5mile stretch known as the Cat and Fiddle - has once again been named Britain’s most dangerous road in a report published by the Road Safety Foundation. The report also named a further nine high risk routes and highlighted the parts of the country where motorists are most at risk from death or serious injury.

The roads to avoid

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If you’re in any doubt as to just how dangerous the A537 is consider that, over the past 10 years, there have been 85 crashes that have resulted in death or serious injury, and 2012 was the fourth consecutive year that it has topped the list of Britain’s most dangerous roads. If you ride a motorbike then you might want to look away now - or, better still, just avoid the road completely – as motorcyclists account for just 1% of the road’s total traffic but are involved in 70% of all crashes resulting in death or serious injury. Next on the list is the single lane stretch of the A5012 that runs between Pikehall and Matlock in the Derbyshire Peak District, a route on which 60% of crashes involve either collisions at junctions or cars running off the road.
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The section of the A809 between the B8050 and the A811 ranks third in the list and is Scotland’s most treacherous carriageway, with a total of 41 fatal or serious crashes between 2001 and 2010. The A5004 between Whaley Bridge and Buxton (again!) is next with 42 fatal or serious crashes in the last decade, a whopping 52% of which were as a result of drivers running their cars off the road. At number five is the A621 between Baslow, Derbyshire and Totley, Yorkshire which, despite seeing a 36% drop in fatal or serious accidents between the first and second halves of the decade, still claimed 41 victims.
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The next five most dangerous drives are a 13-mile stretch of the A530, 24 miles of the A54 (Buxton, again!), an 11-mile section of the A581, as well as some 29 miles of the A588 and a 10-mile run along the A559.

More bad news

Other findings contained in the report were that 70 people are killed or seriously injured on Britain’s roads every day and that single carriageways in the North West of England pose the greatest risk to motorists. Not only that, collectively all single carriageways have six times the risk of motorways and three times the risk of dual carriageways. To emphasise how much more of a risk single carriageways are, just 9% were judged to be ‘low risk’ roads, compared with 31% of dual carriageways and 91% of motorways.

Some good news

It’s not all bad news, though, the number of fatal and serious crashes on Britain’s roads have dropped by 36% over the last decade and the average risk on motorways and A roads fallen by a quarter in the last five years. Oh, and that safest roads are in the West Midlands while the quietest, those with the lowest traffic flow, are in Wales.

What makes for a dangerous drive?

There’s no one single factor that can be marked out as the cause of most accidents and it’s usually a combination of events that leads to a crash. Higher traffic volumes can be a contributory factor purely because, in theory, the more cars there are on the road, the more chance there is of one of them crashing. Then there are factors such as high speeds and sharp bends, particularly on poorly designed single carriageways, blind junctions, low visibility and adverse weather conditions – all characteristics shared by many of Britain’s A roads. And it’s often a combination of any two of these factors that leads to an accident. Of the ten authorities responsible for the most dangerous roads, four cited loss of control, particularly at bends, as the most common cause of accident.

Avoiding an accident

Obviously, the best way to avoid being involved in a road accident is to avoid using the roads altogether – unfortunately it’s also the least practical – but you can greatly reduce the risk by driving mindfully and being aware of what’s happening on the roads around you at all times. You’ll also have to remember that there are some very badly designed roads out there (inasmuch as they weren’t designed with fast cars and motorbikes in mind), so always stick to speed limits and take note of any warning signs at the sides of the road, especially those warning you to slow down. And although you can’t legislate for what other motorists do, by driving at a safe speed and being aware of the other road users around you, you will give yourself a better chance of anticipating and subsequently avoiding an accident. However, no matter how many precautions we take, sometimes accidents just happen, so it’s important to make sure that your car insurance is up to date and that you have the correct level of cover. And by using MoneySupermarket you can instantly compare quotes from over 134 UK insurers to help you get the best deal on your car insurance. There’s also the fact that it’s illegal to even keep a car without insurance, never mind drive one, unless it has been declared as being kept off the road via a statutory off-road notification (SORN). So make sure your insurance is sorted… and then try to make sure that you never have to use it.

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