A road safety report by the road crash index has revealed that roads in Shropshire are some of the most dangerous in the country.
Graphic credit: http://www.roadcrashindex.org
In November 2017, the Road Safety Foundation/Agaes partnership launched an interactive Road Crash Index. The data shows a level the level of improving or declining road safety in each county.
The index shows that serious and fatal crashes in Shropshire increased by 9 percent between 2010-2012 and 2013-2015, meaning Shropshire ranks 63rd out of 78 counties, with road safety falling behind Britain as a whole.
Serious and fatal collisions increased by 13.3 percent with 362 serious between 2010 and 2012, and 410 serious crashes between 2013 and 2015.
The study declared that unless it improves, Shropshire will fail to meet international targets to halve road deaths in a decade.
Most High-Risk Roads in the County
Roads in Shropshire weave through some of the most beautiful scenery the countryside has to offer. However, they can be deadly, with figures showing that 59 percent of all fatalities occur on country roads. Three people on average die each day on country roads which is 10 times higher than that on motorways.
Statistics show that in 2015, 10,307 people were killed or seriously injured on country roads in the UK.
In Shropshire, there are a number of roads which are deemed as high-risk which include the notorious A529 between Market Drayton and Audlem, with the section between Hinstock and Market Drayton being classed as medium to high-risk.
There have been a number of fatal collisions including in 2016, a 23-year old man died when the car he was a passenger in left the A529 and went down an embankment.
An 80-year-old woman died following a two-vehicle crash at the Sweet Appletree crossroads near Hinstock in 2015.
In December 2017, a man in his 60s suffered a head injury after his car collided with a wall on the A529 near Woodseaves.
The A539 between Wrexham and Whitchurch and the A5104 were also deemed high-risk roads.
Roads with the lowest risk include the A519 between Newport and Stoke on Trent and the A4112 between Leominster and Kidderminster.
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Drivers Ditching Speed Limit on Deadly Roads
Telematics firm Quartix named the A529 as one of the deadliest stretches of roads in the country and said that more education was needed for younger drivers who are told to “stick to the speed limit” when it’s often not safe to do so.
A “toxic” mix of sharp bends, poor lighting and a 60mph speed limit were blamed for putting less experienced drivers at risk.
The research found that on such roads, experienced drivers are reducing their speed by up to 20mph, with drivers on the A529 recorded driving an average of 45mph.
Andy Walters, Quartix CEO said: “This research shows that experienced drivers are ditching the statutory speed limit and driving at what they consider to be a safe speed on rural roads.
“The problem is young drivers are often taught to drive ‘to the limit’ and this, put simply, is dangerous and often life-threatening.”
£3.8 million Bid to Improve A529
The A529 has been recognised as one of the 50 roads with the worst safety records in the UK and now Shropshire Council has made a £3.8 million bid to make it safer.
According to figures on the application, there were five fatal collisions, 12 serious and 60 slight collisions between January 2012 and July 2017.
The application states: “The 2016 EuroRAP Risk Ratings Report highlighted that single carriageway ‘A’ roads in the West Midlands region have the lowest risk of death and serious injury in mainland UK. The A529 between Hinstock and Audlem bucked this trend and was highlighted as one of 50 ‘A’ road sections in mainland UK with the highest risk of fatal or serious collisions.”
“The aim of this scheme is to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured along this section of the A529 by building in a higher level of safety for all road users, thereby proactively addressing and reducing the known risks that could result in serious or fatal injuries along the route as a whole.”
“The benefit of this scheme will be to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured along this section of the A529 by building in a higher level of safety for all road users, thereby proactively addressing and reducing the known risks that can result in serious or fatal injuries along the route as a whole.
“Reducing the number and severity of collisions improves route resilience thereby reducing delays experienced by the travelling public. Costs borne by the Council for infrastructure repairs arising as a consequence of the collisions will also be reduced, as will the costs borne by the emergency services and hospitals when responding to and dealing with casualties from the collisions.
Work would cover a 12-mile stretch and be phased over a 2-3 year period.
Rob Gittins, Councillor in Cheswardine said to JT Hughes: “Road safety is something in which Shropshire Council takes very seriously as it’s very important we try our best to reduce KSI (Kill or Serious Injury) on our roads.”
“The A529 has been highlighted by the government as one of the most dangerous roads in the country and the government have earmarked just under £4m for us to try and reduce the KSI. The A41, Tern Hill also has speeding and potential safety issues with local residents starting a petition to reduce the speed limit from a 40mph to a 30mph and widening the footpaths.”
“I have also been in contact with Chris Grayling (Secretary of State for Highways & Transport) via our local MP Owen Paterson to see if anything can be done on a national level to reduce speed on single carriageway country lanes as many of these have speed limits of up to 60mph which is absolutely ridiculous even with all the safety technology new cars now have.”
Staying Safe on Rural Roads
There are a number of ways drivers – and other roads users - can stay safe on journeys involving rural roads.
Here are our top five tips on how to stay safe and still enjoy a cruise through the countryside.
Check Your Speed
The Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) revealed that 14 percent of fatal accidents on rural roads due to driving too fast.
Speed limits on rural roads can be deceptive and 60mph on some roads might be too fast for the condition of the road. Assess the road condition and adjust your speed accordingly.
Look for Clues
An unsuspecting driver may be caught out by potholes, patches of ice, poor drainage or uneven surfacing.
Scan the road for signs of potential hazards ahead. Skid marks for where a driver may have been caught out, clumps of mud from a tractor, concealed entrances or signs for contractors working in the area.
Vulnerable Road Users
It’s not uncommon to encounter horse riders or tractors on rural roads. Take care when passing them and slow down for horses so they aren’t startled.
There tends to be a lack of pavements along rural roads, so be aware of the presence of pedestrians walking along the roadside.
Cyclists are encouraged by the Highway Code to ride in the middle lane if there isn’t enough room for a car to overtake them safely, so don’t get angry at them for doing so. Hang back and wait until it is safe to pass and leave the same amount of room as you would for any other vehicle.
Look Out for Animals
Keep your wits about you on rural roads and look out for livestock such as herds of cows, sheep or deer. In late spring or early autumn, be aware of deer or wild animals wandering into the roads.
When it comes to overtaking other vehicles, nothing should be left to chance. Bends in the road and lower lighting makes it harder to judge when it is safe to pass. Do not start the manoeuvre until you know when and how it will end. Don’t get up close to the vehicle in front of you. Hold back and get a view of the entire road so you can assess when you can overtake safely.