Safety should be at the forefront when it comes to investment in England’s strategic road network, according to a report by the Road Safety Foundation.
The Infrastructure Bill has now started Parliamentary scrutiny and will transform the Highways Agency into a public company operating in a commercial environment. The report entitled ‘How safe are England’s strategic roads? An assessment of the safety of the strategic road network’ aims to help Parliament to ensure the right decisions on safety are taken now.
According to the report, all companies have a duty of care to ensure that employees and any other person who may be affected by a company’s undertaking remain safe at all times.
The report identifies current safety weaknesses in the SRN: more than 100 people a year lose their lives on motorways and a further 164 on the rest of the network. The report, and the associated Risk Map, shows how the risk of being killed or seriously injured varies across the road network. It explains the types of crashes that kill and highlights the infrastructure safety changes that can eliminate or reduce risk at weak points.
“This is an important time for decision-makers,” says James Bradford, operations manager at the Road Safety Foundation. “There are 270 deaths a year on the strategic network which is more than all the workplace deaths in Britain for which there is a strict health and safety regime. The new highways company will begin operating with more deaths and injuries of its customers than any other company in Britain.
“Putting the management of safety into a commercial framework needs care. But it provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to have infrastructure risks independently measured and internationally benchmarked for Parliament and public. Britain can join other world-leading countries such as the Netherlands, Sweden and New Zealand in setting clear goals for infrastructure safety and reduce the cost of saving lives.
“Our report gives a brief assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the network; what can be done to put it right; and the costs – in both human and monetary terms – of getting it wrong. Our strategic roads must be safe and fit for purpose.”