Where are Britain's most dangerous roads?

Great Britain is home to many beautiful, scenic roads – including those that run alongside the coast, pass through the countryside and twist and turn up mountains.

The UK also has some of the safest roads in the world. It’s actually second from last on the European Commission’s list of EU countries with the highest road fatalities per million inhabitants.

In 2017 there were 28 road fatalities per million people, significantly less than in countries like Romania (99 deaths per million), Bulgaria (96) and Croatia (80). Sweden was the only country where there were fewer fatalities (25).

Still, Britain has its fair share of dangerous roads which see numerous serious incidents and deaths each year. More than 70 people are killed or seriously hurt on our roads every day and this figure has failed to decrease over the last decade.
 

The stats

Figures cited by road safety charity Brake show that there were 1,793 people killed on Britain’s roads back in 2017 – that’s the highest annual total since 2011. Most fatalities happened in England, where the 1,544 deaths accounted for 83% of the UK total.

In terms of road type, the majority (60%) of the 1,793 fatalities occurred on rural roads, though most casualties (63%) happened on urban routes.

The number of fatalities recorded on built-up 20mph roads jumped by 79% in 2017 compared with the previous year, while the number of crashes also increased by 43%. To compare, deaths on roads that are 30mph fell by 1%, while serious injuries increased by 5%.

On motorways, there were 99 fatalities recorded in 2017 – an increase of 6% compared with 2016.
A minor car accident

Where is the most dangerous road?

The Road Safety Foundation’s most recent ‘How Safe Are You on Britain’s Major Road Networks?’ report examines what they call ‘persistently higher risk rural roads’ that are a serious cause for concern in the UK.

Within a three-year period, the rural roads included in the study had an average of at least one fatal or serious incident per mile along their length.

Top of the list of the most dangerous road is the A5004 in Derbyshire. A 12km stretch of the road recorded the same number of fatal and serious incidents in 2015-17 as in 2012-14, despite traffic reducing slightly. There were sixteen serious and fatal incidents between 2012-17, averaging out at nearly three per year.

Every serious incident on this road, bar one, involved a motorcyclist and over a third were head-on collisions.

Here’s the top 10 list of dangerous roads in full:

1.       A5004 (Derbyshire) – 12km stretch between the A6 and A53.
2.       A3055 (Isle of Wight) – 49km stretch between the A3054 near Freshwater and A3054 in Ryde.
3.       A645 (Wakefield) – 9km stretch between the A638 and A639.
4.       A909 (Fife) – 14km stretch between the M90 and A921.
5.       A57 (Derbyshire/Sheffield/Tameside) – 37km stretch between the A628 and Sandy Gate
6.       A683 (Lancashire) – 24km stretch between the A65 and the A6.
7.       A290 (Kent) – 9km stretch between the A299 and the A28.
8.       A272 (Hampshire) – 31km stretch between the A30 and A3.
9.       A3054 (Isle of Wight) – 29km stretch between the A3055 near Freshwater and the A3055 in Ryde.
10.   A361 (Devon) – 23km stretch between the A377 and the A399.

These rural, single-carriageway A-roads are the most dangerous overall, found the report, which also revealed that roads maintained by local councils were a concerning four times more dangerous than A-roads and motorways maintained by Highways England and central government.

Acting executive director of the Road Safety Foundation, Kate Fuller, commented: “So much of our travel is on these intensely used networks that any flaw in their in-built safety means tragedy sooner rather than later.”
Around £1bn per year from this year has been pledged by the Department for Transport (DfT) to boost the safety of local A-roads.

A spokesperson for the DfT added: “The UK has some of the safest roads in the world. The safety of all road users is our priority, which is why we have invested £100 million in the 50 most dangerous A-roads.”
A busy motorway in the evening

What about dangerous motorways?

Statistically, motorways are Britain’s safest roads. The main reason people don’t tend to think of them as being safe is because accidents on motorways tend to be more serious, due to the high speeds involved.

That said, certain motorways in England have a reputation for being more dangerous than others. Pass Me Fast looked at data from between 2007 and 2016 to compile its list of Britain’s top five dangerous motorways.

Top of the list was the M25 – also known as the London Orbital motorway. It’s one of Britain’s busiest motorways while also being the second longest ring road in Europe. There were 7,673 reported accidents between 2007 and 2016, involving 13,064 vehicles and leading to 80 reported deaths. Completing the top five list were:
 
  • M1 – 7,617 reported accidents, 13,121 vehicles involved, 154 deaths
  • M6 – 7,342 reported accidents, 12,491 vehicles involved, 160 deaths
  • M4 – 5,698 reported accidents, 10,583 vehicles involved, 123 deaths
  • M5 – 3,185 reported accidents, 5,765 vehicles involved, 91 deaths

While the M25 had the most reported accidents, it was actually the M6 where the most fatal incidents occurred. Still, these figures pale in significance when compared to the number of incidents on A-roads.
 

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