Chair of the Campaign for Safe Road Design, John Dawson said return on investment for simple road adaptations such as roundabouts and filter lanes for traffic turning right can save up to a third of deaths and give a vast return on investment.
"Local Authorities can expect up to 300% rate of return on investment." he said, assuming that each road death costs the economy some £1.5M.
of the 3,000 road deaths per year, 1,374 occur on Local Authority A-roads, by far the largest proportion.
Simple improvements could save in the region of £6bn per year, or 0.5% of GDP, he said.
"Costs are around 6% of the existing roads budget, but we have to raise the priority of this programme," he said, adding that exising budgets should adapted to new designs, and should be sufficient.
Roads minister Jim Fitzpatrick said he would consider the proposals as part of the road safety strategy to 2020, which will go out to consultation later this year.
"A safe road system means road users who obey traffic law, manufacturers who provide safe vehicles and authorities who provide safe roads," said Dawson.
"The government has been tightening traffic law, not least in the enforcement of speed limits. The safety standard of new vehicles has soared from a typical 2-star to a 4-star car crash NCAP rating after the introduction of the programme in the 1990s.
"As the government prepares its road safety strategy beyond 2010, we must now, as other leading countries have done, turn our attention to the safety features built into our roads."
Simple measures include more targeted speed limits, filter lanes, roundabouts, building central reservations, and using signage and barriers designed to crumple, and so protect drivers.