Register | Login

How to make roads safer now and for the future

Operators across the network from local authorities to national transport bodies identify improving road safety as a top priority. With the number of people killed on Britain’s roads increasing from 1,730 in 2015 to 1,792 in 2016, this prioritization is much-needed.

The Road Safety Foundation have identified the most dangerous stretches of road in their recent British EuroRAP Results 2017 report ‘Cutting the Cost of Dangerous Roads’. The British EuroRAP network (motorways and ‘A’ roads outside of built up areas) accounts for 10% of the total road network, upon which 51% of the fatal crashes occur. The largest single cause of death on the network was run-off road crashes (30%) and the largest single cause of serious injury on the network was crashes at junctions (33%).

These figures are tough to read but the report also highlights that last year, in a major innovation, the government allocated £175m to tackle a portfolio of “the 50 most dangerous roads” in England. The 50 local authority ‘A’ roads posing the highest risk of death and serious injury to their users were identified by the Road Safety Foundation through the 2016 analysis.

The report goes on to show that serious road crashes, and their costs, can be targeted, but overall only 1% of road sections have shown significant improvement over the past year. More than 550 road sections, nearly one in 5 of the total, still have unacceptably high risks.

Improving safety now

Over previous years CIearview have been involved in helping improve some of the UK’s most dangerous roads such as the A41 at Chetwynd and the A4128 at High Wycombe. We continue to advance our thinking when working with road operators to put in place innovative safety solutions. Amongst our applications we have solar powered SolarLite Active Road studs that provide enhanced delineation of roads, combating potential run off crashes, and we have put in place award winning visual warning solutions where vehicles are detected at junctions, or speed is checked, triggering the appropriate message to that type of vehicle.

Most of these solutions are put in place where it is felt, or has been proven, the road has a dangerous section to it. This can come from recording the number of incidents at a certain location, or perhaps through local action groups who recognise the potential dangers that may occur.

Maintaining safety in the future

Once safety solutions are put in place it is sensible to monitor if incident rates improve and the danger is reduced. This is what we are all aiming for, but roads do change over time. Their use may increase, the type of vehicles on the road may change, the condition of the road itself may degenerate and people who were involved in the original thinking may move on.

And this is where it is important for road planners and maintainers to continue to record and understand the history of their road networks. If a safety solution has been previously put in place and this has reduced the danger of using the road, it doesn’t mean that stretch of road is now safe forever. A simple change such as resurfacing of the road may remove or alter the safety solution, reducing its effectiveness and without anyone realising this is the case until a new incident occurs.

So, as a new year wish here at Clearview, we not only would wish to see positive activity in putting in place new safety solutions but we are also calling for the continued maintenance and proactive management of existing solutions.

Let’s make sure all road studs are working and have not been damaged or covered with dirt or new bitumen. Road surface and markings conditions need to be continually monitored for wear and tear, and let’s check that road signs are clear from visual obstructions and that electronic signs are working correctly.

The Road Safety Foundation states that for every £1 spent on road safety engineering treatments the economy is typically saved more than £3, so it makes perfect sense to continue to maintain existing solutions.

However, we appreciate that justifying the initial investment is a challenge, so we have developed a return on investment calculator where you can consider how much a safety scheme may cost (with maintenance) versus the anticipated reduction in number of casualties and incidents. This provides great help in justifying the improvement or maintenance costs around a safety solution. See a short video on how to use the ROI calculator or feel free to get in touch and we will happily talk you through the completion of the tool.

Ensuring the safety of UK road users is a tough aim to achieve and requires innovative thinking around the use of applications and budgets. We have experience in doing this and look forward to contributing to the safer use of UK roads over the coming years.
Uploaded 18/01/2018