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Motorway safety warning

Date: 22 February 2010

Just half of Britain's motorways have been given a four-star safety rating by the Road Safety Federation.

And two-thirds of the UK's single carriageway and trunk roads have only been given a two-star rating, although more encouragingly, some 78% of dual carriageways received three stars.

"Our assessment of trunk roads considers three key elements: the protection provided if vehicles run off the road; the risk of head-on collisions; and the safety of junctions. Motorways are our safest roads, scoring well on two of these factors but half do not protect road users who, for whatever reason, run off the road," said Foundation director doctor Joanne Hill.

John Dawson, chairman of th eEuroRAP European Road Assessment body, which oversees the star rating system and campaigns for universal road design standards, called for greater investment in highway design. "If a driver is belted, sober and obeying the speed limit, then the risk of death and injury in a four-star car on a four-star road is small. But most rural roads in Europe are not safe at the posted speed limit. Most deaths happen on busy one- or two-star main single carriageway roads that need urgent investment in affordable safety line markings, safety fencing and junction layouts," he said.

The EuroRAP initiative is a sister programme to the widely known EuroNCAP vehicle crash tests.