LOCAL AUTHORITIES are responsible for hundreds of road deaths by ignoring low cost measures on rural single carriageway roads, motoring organisation the AA claimed this week.
Life saving road safety schemes - such as putting barriers around solid objects at the road side and replacing traffic light junctions with roundabouts - are being shunned by local authorities, new research from the AA claimed this week.
A survey of 27 councils, carried out jointly between county surveyors body CSS and the AA Foundation for Road Safety Research, shows that most accept they could save more lives but are held back from doing more by a skills shortage and a lack of cash in the right areas.
Nearly half of those questioned put the cost of measures per life saved at less than £50,000. Two thirds say they have the budget to recruit more staff but cannot.
The AA says 40% of Britain's road deaths happen outside built up areas, and of these almost three quarters happen on single carriageway roads.
Four common incidents accounting for 80% of single carriageway road deaths could be tackled if engineers designed differently, AA policy director John Dawson said.
Head on collisions could be reduced by introducing central reservations on busy single carriageway roads, as in Sweden.
Dawson believes that costs could be cut to £20 per metre if the design speed of the barriers was reduced.
Deaths from striking roadside objects such as trees - 500 people die each year in the UK in this way - could be reduced by either guarding them with barriers, or simply cutting them down. 'We have to address the fact that people are more important than trees, ' said Dawson.
More work is needed to separate pedestrians from road traffic, and junctions can be made safer by replacing traffic lights with roundabouts. 'At well designed roundabouts people do not die, ' said Dawson.
'But at traffic lights, death is designed in.'
The AA's findings are drawn from the AA-led European Road Assessment Programme (EuroRAP) INFOPLUS www. eurorap. org