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Better road safety: What can the UK learn from other European countries?

VT blog better road safety: What can the UK learn from other European countries?

Posted on 21st Sep, 2015 by Jonathan Peach

British roads have consistently been among the safest in Europe with the number of deaths per inhabitant halved since 2001. According to the RAC Foundation, the UK, along with Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark, is one of the four safest EU countries for road users. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean us Brits have nothing to improve upon. While safe, the UK would clearly benefit from adopting some of the other policies and rules of the road used by our European counterparts.

Reducing the number of fatalities on the road

An analysis of the road safety management and plans of European countries ranked the UK within the bottom 25 per cent of 29 European countries in terms of its vision for cutting death and injury on the road network in future. One country that performed well in this category was Sweden.

In 2013, just 264 people died in road crashes in Sweden, a record low – and particularly low compared to the UK and other countries across the world. In fact, although the number of cars in circulation and the number of miles driven in the region had doubled since 1970, the number of road deaths had fallen by four-fifths during the same period. This has all been made possible by proper planning.

Planning plays a huge part in reducing accidents and it’s definitely something us Brits can improve upon. Roads in Sweden are built with several features that we’d certainly benefit from in the UK, these include:

  • Low urban speed-limits
  • Pedestrian zones and barriers that separate cars from bikes and oncoming traffic
  • Recent implementation of 1,500 kilometres (900 miles) of “2+1” roads—where each lane of traffic takes turns to use a middle lane for overtaking
  • Recent addition of 12,600 safer crossings, including pedestrian bridges and zebra-stripes flanked by flashing lights and protected with speed-bumps
  • Strict policing

Improving road infrastructure

vt blog european cycle roads

One area of our road network that could improve in particular is our motorway infrastructure. The Road Safety Foundation – the UK arm of the European Road Assessment Programme (EuroRAP), the sister organisation of EuroNCAP which measures car safety – inspected almost all of the motorways and major A-roads in England. Following each inspection they gave each road a star rating from one to four. Only half of motorways were given four stars – in comparison to 70% of roads in Germany.

Unprotected signs and trees were listed as some of the problems on motorways, while many of the rural roads were assessed to be unsafe at the posted speed limit. Essentially, the UK could take the lead from a selection of other European countries and adopt their simple, yet safer, engineering solutions to reduce the number of road accidents.

In the meantime road users can rely on safety technology, like the products we make here at Vision Techniques, to enhance road safety. We have a wide variety or products available for every vehicle and industry – all of which you can browse here.

To find out more about our products contact the Vision Techniques team on 08455 641 236.

What are your views on European road safety rules and regulations? Is it really better than the UK? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @VisionTechnique