UK danger roads get £50bn upgrade

Britain’s roads are falling into dangerous levels of disrepair. The nation’s fast-moving single carriageway routes carry the greatest risk of death or injury, so the government has announced a major overhaul that will see £50billion spent on improving our roads over the next 25 years.

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Action for Roads

As part of its Action for Roads proposals, the government has also outlined how it plans to give greater responsibility to the Highways Agency, which will become a publicly-owned corporation with designated road managers whose job will be to improve safety on the roads directly under their control. And just as new vehicles are given safety ratings, so roads will have to achieve a certain safety standard. This is similar to schemes running in the Netherlands and New Zealand, where road managers have been targeted with achieving minimum safety ratings of three or four stars by 2020. This will represent a move away from the current UK system, which sees the most dangerous roads marked as black and the safest as green, and bring us into line with other countries leading the way in road safety. The new plans will also see an overhaul of the way road repairs and improvements are carried out. This will involve a move away from focusing solely on tackling congestion problems and look at improving road condition and safety. There will also be a removal of roadside hazards, such as trees, rigid poles or lighting columns, as well as the introduction of interactive warning signs to highlight upcoming hazardous conditions, anti-skid surfacing and more road studs to mark out lanes. Emphasis will also be placed upon junctions, which account for most crashes leading to serious injury. Work will also be undertaken to improve layouts, road markings and signs, as well as resurfacing with high-friction treatments and tailoring local speed limits instead of relying on the catch-all national speed limits. But just how risky are our roads? A report from the Road Safety Foundation offers up some sobering statisitcs…

The roads to Hell

A total of 1,754 people were killed on Britain’s roads last year, a figure which is considerably lower than the average of 2,291 road deaths which occurred each year between 2007 and 2011. And although a total 11,457 people were killed on British roads during this five-year period, this was 31% lower than the preceding five-year period which saw 16,533 road deaths between 2001 and 2006. While it appears road travel is getting safer, this could be as much down to an improvement in vehicle safety as anything else. The figures certainly highlight the dire need for improvements on the UK’s network of fast-moving single carriageways, which alone account for 62% of fatal and serious crashes. To put into perspective just how dangerous some of these ‘A’ roads are, dual carriageways accounted for 12% of fatal and serious crashes and motorways just 11%. So where are the UK’s motoring black spots? Top of the list is still the 12km stretch of the A537 between Macclesfield and Buxton on the Cheshire-Derbyshire borders – a single carriageway that over the last five years has seen four crashes resulting in death or serious injury for every kilometre and is considered nine times more dangerous than other primary ‘A’ roads.

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Next up is a 15km stretch of the A5012 between Pikehall and Matlock, followed by 21km of the A682 between Nelson and Long Preston.

How to avoid an accident

A major reason why these roads are so dangerous is the high volume of traffic they carry, but there are other factors to consider such as high speeds, sharp bends and dangerous junctions, not to mention the low visibility and adverse weather conditions that are also a key characteristic of many of Britain’s ‘A’ roads. And while you can’t legislate for what other drivers are going to do, the best way to stay out of trouble is to simply follow the rules of the road, paying attention to speed limits and warning signs and just being aware of what’s going on around you – if you can anticipate a problem there’s a better chance you’ll avoid it.

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