The European Road Assessment Programme (EuroRAP) has looked at 95% of our 4,400 mile Highways Agency network of roads in an effort to make the road infrastructure safer and they have come up wanting!
Based on a star rating, with 4 being the maximum, the (EuroRAP) Road Protection Score rates roads on how well the design protects users from death or disabling injury when a crash occurs.
I guess the headline is that over 1000 miles of single carriageway roads, almost two thirds get just 2 stars. Things get a little brighter when they looked at motorways, with around 50% achieving the full 4 star level, whilst 78% of our dual carriage ways picked up 3 stars.
They look at what protection is provided when vehicles run off the road, the safety of junctions and of course, the risk of head-on collisions.
Motorways are the safest roads in many ways, I guess, with head-on collisions being all but impossible, but its claimed a half don’t offer adequate protection for those that run off the road. Dual carriageways score well regarding head-on collisions, with 97% meeting the highest standards, but again, run-off seems to be the issue as 90% failed to reach the highest 4 star standard. Around 25% of dual carriageways have what’s referred to as ‘surface level junctions’ plus lay-bys and other minor accesses and don’t afford the level of protection necessary, so they get low scores. Combined, however 78% of the dual carriageway network get a reasonable 3 stars.
We all know that single carriageway roads are the most dangerous, as you head towards oncoming traffic, just feet away, without any separating barrier and the report said “Single carriageways lack most of the safety features that would protect road users and almost two-thirds (62%) get an overall rating of two stars”. However a huge (but not unexpected) 91% failed to reach the standards for running off the road, whilst head-on collisions are only prevented by the use of road markings. The report also said where these roads have junctions; very few were laid out well.
The EuroRAP look at roads all over Europe and the contrasts must be huge, between different countries and apparently, to get 4 stars the roads have to be almost free of faults and you could probably achieve that from a newly built road, but most of our roads have evolved over the years, with widening work, or perhaps an additional carriageway tagged on, or perhaps through changing layouts slightly, but the fact is, this is a busy little country and whilst us motorists would all love simpler, safer and quicker routes, we know the way it is and for the majority of us, we drive with caution and in an appropriate way for the road we are using, so we get by!