Roads in the north of the England are the most dangerous, according to a Road Safety Foundation survey. Almost all higher risk roads are in the North-West, Yorkshire and the Humber and the East Midlands.

Top of this year’s persistently higher risk roads is the A537 between Macclesfield and Buxton, known nationally as the Cat and Fiddle.

A 50mph single carriageway, running through the Peak District National Park, the route has severe bends, steep falls from the carriageway and is edged by dry-stone walls or rock face for most of its length. It is popular with tourists, heavy goods vehicles and high-powered leisure motorcyclists.

Fatal and serious collisions have risen by 127% in the last 3 years rising from 15 in 2003-2005 to 34 in 2006-2008, with most crashes at weekends during the summer in dry, daylight conditions. Police records show that the vast majority of casualties were motorcyclists, from outside the local area, male, and with an average age of 35, said the Road Safety Foundation.

The highest risk road excluding motorcyclist collisions is the A18 from the A16 (Ludborough) to the A46 at Laceby in Humberside.

Topping the the UK’s 10 most improved roads is the A40 Llandovery-Carmarthen, where junctions have been upgraded, new road markings introduced and resurfacing carried out, including anti-skid treatments, saving 20 fatal and serious collisions between 2006-2008: a 74% reduction.

The West Midlands is the safest region, with the lowest average risk rating, according to the report.

It also says one-third of all fatal and serious collisions occur at junctions, single carriageways are six times the risk of motorways and twice that of duals and one in seven primary roads is high risk compared to one in 33 non-primary.

Dr Joanne Hill, director of the Road Safety Foundation says: “As the road budget becomes tighter, emphasis must be on saving lives with less. It means systematic attention to detail, prioritising treatment of the highest risk routes most likely to benefit from low-cost, high-return countermeasures.

“There are practical examples of how, with attention to detail, some authorities are slashing the toll of death and serious injury on high risk stretches by as much as three-quarters. Simple, relatively inexpensive engineering measures, such as improvements to signing and lining, resurfacing and the layout of signals at junctions, are paying dividends and are affordable particularly when done as part of well planned routine maintenance. ”

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