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No reduction in reported road deaths. What more can be done?

Figures released by the Department for Transport (DfT) last week show road deaths remained static at 1,780 in the year ending in March 2016. 24,610 people were killed or seriously injured in this period, which represents a 2% increase from the previous year. 

In the wake of these figures, many have focused on drink-drive fatalities, which accounted for 13% of road deaths in 2015. While tackling drink-driving will undoubtedly help to improve road safety, we wonder what more can be done to tackle the 87% of road deaths not related to alcohol consumption.

Looking at the type of road may offer some insight. In these DfT statistics, fatal accidents on major roads (motorways and A roads) increased by 3% in the year ending March 2016, while fatal accidents on minor roads fell by 2%.

Similarly, on roads with a speed limit over 40mph fatal accidents increased by 4%, while fatal accidents decreased by 4% on roads with a speed limit of up to and including 40mph.

Focussing effort on improving safety on certain types of roads: Motorways, A roads, and other roads with a higher speed limit could help to reverse these increases, thus significantly reducing the number of road deaths.

A report by the Road Safety Foundation looked at road safety figures across Britain’s roads and found single carriageway A roads had the highest level of risk across all road types. It is also reported that more than half of fatal crashes occur on country roads.

Such accidents often involve vehicles coming off the tarmac or veering into oncoming traffic. Clearer signage of upcoming bends and undulations in the road, as well as high-friction road surfaces, can help to keep drivers on the road. As can a clearer view of the road ahead. 

Our SolarLite Active Road Studs and IRS2 Intelligent Road Studs provide this view of the road ahead and clearer demarcation of the road edges and central white lines. By actively emitting light, rather than relying on reflecting the beam of the driver’s headlights, as with traditional retro-reflective cat’s eyes, these studs provide up to 10x greater visibility in poor weather conditions and after dark. 

Given that more than half of all traffic deaths occur after dark, despite only one third of journeys taking place at night, this is one solution that could substantially reduce the number of fatalities. When travelling at 60mph a driver on a road with traditional cat’s eyes can see for 90m, so has 3.6 seconds in which to react to a change in the road ahead. Driving on a road with active road studs, this visibility increases to 900m and so the reaction time increases to 36 seconds. The driver has much more time to react, leading to safer, smoother driving. 

This is how the safety on the A2/A20 in Kent and the A41 in Chetwynd was transformed. Installing such products reduced night time incidents by providing greater visibility of the road layout and junctions on these roads. 

It’s clear to see how simple solutions can have a dramatic impact on road safety and how by targeting both the types of road and individual stretches of roads that are known to be most dangerous, we could see much reduced road fatality statistics in the near future. 

Of course this must be in addition to continuing with schemes to keep our urban roads safe so that the positive downward trajectory on minor roads and those with a lower speed limit is maintained. 

Call us on +44 (0)1869 362800 to discuss how we can help reduce accidents and keep drivers safe on your network. 

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