Shropshire Star

Crashes on rural roads almost four times as likely to end in death as crashes in urban areas

The number of deaths in crashes on rural roads rose by almost a third last year, a new report has found.

Vehicle crashes on rural roads are around four times more likely to result in a fatality than those on urban highways, according to a new report

The analysis by insurer NFU Mutual also found that rural crashes last year were almost four times as likely to result in a fatality as crashes in urban areas.

The report said an average of one in every 31 collisions on rural roads in Britain in 2022 resulted in a death, compared with a death in one in every 120 on roads in towns and cities.

It follows a tragic week on Shropshire's rural roads that saw four fatal crashes between Friday, November 24 and Friday, December 1.

Last week, Shropshire Fire and Rescue issued a plea to the public to take care on the roads after attending incidents in Sandford, Much Wenlock, Shrewsbury and Bridgnorth.

In the West Midlands, 90 people died on rural roads in 2022, an increase of 30 per cent on 2021. The number of rural road deaths was also 30 per cent higher than urban road fatalities.

The analysis is based on Department for Transport (DfT) figures for crashes in which at least one person was injured.

NFU Mutual identified factors contributing to accidents on rural roads which are "less severe or not present" on urban highways.

They include vehicles travelling at high speed resulting in head-on collisions; loss of control at unanticipated tight corners; unmarked junctions; and increased traffic from rural businesses, particularly during the summer harvest season.

A total of 1,017 people were killed on rural roads in 2022, which was a four-year high and represented a 14 per cent increase from 2021.

Some 59 per cent of all road fatalities were on rural roads despite the highways being used for just 44 per cent of traffic.

In March, the DfT's road safety initiative Think! launched a campaign aimed at reducing the number of young male drivers killed on rural roads.

This came after data showed three out of five crashes in which young male car drivers die or suffer a serious injury on those roads.

NFU Mutual announced it will develop a Code For Countryside Roads to provide advice to drivers and other road users.

It commissioned a survey of UK adults which indicated one in seven people have been involved in a crash on a rural road, and one in five feel uncomfortable driving on them.

Among respondents' most common concerns about rural road safety were blind corners, narrow roads, impatient drivers and people breaking the speed limit.

NFU Mutual chief executive Nick Turner said: "Rural roads are not only the arteries of the rural economy but also the gateway to our countryside and a source of enjoyment for millions.

"Sadly, our analysis shows that, after a few years of decreasing fatalities, rural roads are becoming more deadly again.

"Over 1,000 people lost their lives on rural roads last year, with thousands more injured.

"Every road death is one too many, and we believe serious conversations need to happen to make rural roads safer for everyone.

"That is why we are today announcing a Code For Countryside Roads, which will take in feedback and advice from experts and groups to provide a clear guide to how people should use rural roads.

"We all need to work together to ensure we keep our countryside as safe as it can be.

"We invite members of the public and experts to get in touch with us to feed into the Code For Countryside Roads, and hope the document, once published, will help steer a course towards safer rural roads for all road users."

The DfT was approached for comment.