2019-Car-Crash-910In 2017, 254.4 Billion vehicle miles were driven by car in the uk, making it the biggest ever year for motor transport, and that number is climbing. As car ownership increases and Britain's road network strains under the pressure, are we as road users up to scratch with our knowledge of the roads and are our roads themselves safe enough to carry the british public?

Halfords has compiled statistics on 12 key areas of interest on our roads to bring together their 2019 Road Worthiness Report. The full report can be found here, but we'll briefly go through a few of the main points in the report.

Accidents in the UK

The report found a downward trend in the number of casualties resulting from accidents from 148,385 in 2015 to 126,977 in 2017 despite the number of cars and drivers on the road increasing, with total accidents of all kinds are down since the mid 60's. London (unsurprisingly) is the accident hotspot of the UK, contributing 20% of all accidents.

When it comes to the causes of accidents, a massive 70% of collisions are down to driver error, with 39% of that down to drivers or riders not looking properly and 22% caused by failing to judge another drivers speed. These statistics led to Halfords running the 2018 Halfords Autocentres Roadworthiness Quiz to test Britain's knowledge of the road, and determine whether they were ‘road worthy'. The questions tested basic knowledge, such as the drink drive limit and identifying the fog light symbol and only required an 86% mark to pass the test. The results backed up what the statistics showed, as 83% of the 55,000 people who took the test failed, with a staggering 99% failure rate for respondents from London.

Vehicle Defects

So we've seen that Britains drivers are, to say the least, underwhelming, but how are our vehicles? Only 2% of accidents are down to defective motors, yet that still means over 2,000 people have been affected by avoidable car issues. The three biggest issues were faulty brakes (36%), illegal, defective or under inflated tyres (33%) and defective steering or suspension (18%).

Breakdown Incidents

Highways England deal with 85,00 breakdowns a year, and over a 2 year period, they found that 40% of breakdowns were down to 4 key things:

  1. Running out of Fuel
  2. Poor Tyres
  3. Power Loss
  4. Engine trouble

The report found that you're most likely to break down on a friday, during the summer, on the M1 and in the East of England.

Worst UK Junctions

The report details 3 of roads.org.uk 52 worst junctions, detailing how sometimes the roads themselves aren't fit for purpose. It looks at Spittals Interchange - A14 - A14 - A141, Worsley Interchange - M60 - M62 - M602 and Chevening Interchange - A21 - M25 - M26.

How Safe are our Roads?

Bad junctions leads us nicely onto the condition of the road network. A fifth of people surveyed wwwitted they never used the motorway, with 34% saying they avoided using them because they didn't feel safe. The 2 main culprits for this were the M25 (unsurprising given that it was voted Britain's worst road) and the M6 (the longest motorway in the UK).

The Problem with Potholes

Potholes are probably enemy number 1 for road users in the UK, with 126,977 people being affected by accidents caused by potholes. Not only are they a nuisance, but they can be fatal for cyclists (the New Statesman finding that "at least 390 cyclists were killed or seriously hurt between 2007 and 2016 because of potholes") and a real danger on rural roads (which have seen an increase of traffic by 12.8% between 2012 and 2017).

What needs to Change?

To conclude, the report goes through 5 ways in which the road worthiness of Britons and our roads can be improved. These are:

  1. Improved Knowledge - There have been calls for mandatory retesting and encouragement to regularly brush up on your own knowledge.
  2. Better Car Maintenance - Keeping on top of your service history and learning basic car maintenance skills.
  3. More government investment - To fix potholes and maintain busy routes.
  4. Addressing congestion - Smart motorways are being rolled out with active traffic management.
  5. Taking action - petitioning your local MP/Council to fix the issues with their roads.