In 2013, 1,713 people were killed on Britain’s roads and 21,657 were seriously injured. There are now 10 times more people killed on Britain’s roads each year than in the workplace. Until recently, death and injury on the road had been regarded as inevitable. The techniques and disciplines of managing fatal risk in manufacturing, oil exploration and mining, which have been so successful, have not been seen as relevant to the roads.

International best practice is developing long term programmes with the goal of eliminating death on the roads. These ‘vision zero’ programmes are developing a ‘safe system’, in which the driver, vehicle, and road are seen as one combined design protecting all road users from serious harm. For example, crash energy absorbing in-car airbags and roadside safety fences are complementary.

In the last decade, research shows that the single largest contribution to reduction in serious crashes has come from safer vehicles. The in-built safety of vehicles has risen as passive safety (eg crumple zones and airbags) has increased vehicle Star Ratings.

Since 2002, the Road Safety Foundation have published the British EuroRAP Risk Mapping and Performance Tracking results for British motorways and ‘A’ roads. The results have prompted the questions:

  • What has been done on the ‘most improved’ road?
  • What is wrong with ‘persistently higher risk’ roads?

What should be done?

This report by the Foundation answers those questions with a focus on safe road design. How can the in-built safety of roads contribute to minimising the likelihood of a crash and, in the event of a crash, protect from death or serious injury?

The report digs deeper with two case studies – a ‘most improved road (the A285) and a ‘persistent high risk road (the A404) to show how safe road design can contribute. The purpose of this report is to demonstrate pathfinding work carried out with the help of leading authorities on the application of Star Ratings in Britain.

Download the report