Roads are to be given a star rating to show motorists how dangerous they are.
A survey is to be carried out to assess the likelihood of fatal and serious injuries when accidents occur on many of the UK’s busiest inter-urban roads.
More than 4,000 miles of roads are being analysed in a cross-Europe scheme similar to the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) which gives car models star ratings for protection levels to occupants and pedestrians in the event of a crash.
In the car assessment, the safest cars get five stars. In the road assessment, if a road gets four stars that means that it has the least risk to road users, with one star, or no stars, indicating the most dangerous roads.
In deciding a road’s star rating, the road surveyors will consider three main types of accident:
- head-on crashes – how well is traffic separated and what disincentives to over-taking along dangerous stretches of road are there?
- run-off crashes – how well are drivers protected against hitting rigid poles, signs, lampposts and trees or going down embankments if they leave the road?
- junction crashes – to what extent could a junction layout or the frequency of turnings contribute towards accidents?
The assessment is being carried out by a team from the German motoring organisation ADAC, and is co-funded by the AA Motoring Trust and the Highways Agency.
Bert Morris, Director of the AA Motoring Trust, said: ‘Just as the star-rating system for car crash protection has inspired manufacturers to transform the safety features of cars in the UK, so the road assessment programme will encourage road authorities to innovate and upgrade safety features on many of Britain’s persistently lethal roads.’
He added: ‘The primary function of the Road Protection Scoring (RPS) is not to safeguard extreme drivers who go hell for leather regardless of conditions, although their chances of survival will be enhanced by subsequent improvements.
‘The scheme sets the benchmark at the level of average drivers who follow the rules of the road but make mistakes, perhaps because of bad weather or through not knowing the route. RPS shows how well a road will ‘forgive’ or how badly it will punish an ordinary driver’s error.’