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Dangerous Roads

Jamie C, 
Friday, 30 July 2021

Revealing Britain’s most accident-prone roads

An accident can happen on any road, whether you’re flying down the motorway or on your own on a country lane without another car in sight, but where do the most accidents occur?

You’d think that busier and faster roads in more densely populated areas would have the most accidents, but just how true is this? We’ve analysed the latest accident data from the Department for Transport to find out!

The top 3 areas with the most accidents

kent

Kent (excluding Medway towns) – 3,619 accidents

The southeastern county of Kent had the most accidents in 2019 by some distance, with 3,619 in total.

While this figure excludes the Medway towns such as Gillingham and Rochester, Kent is still one of the most heavily populated counties in the country, with lots of traffic heading not just to the towns above, but also into London.

surrey

Surrey – 2,964 accidents

Another of the home counties had the second-highest number of accidents, this time Surrey, with 2,964 taking place in 2019.

Like Kent, Surrey is a fairly well-populated county but with large rural areas, as well as lots of commuters, all of which could contribute to the high number of accidents.

Birmingham

Birmingham – 2,623 accidents

The urban area with the highest number of accidents is Birmingham, which is the UK’s second-most-populated city with over 1.1 million people, hence there are a lot of people on the move, and there were 2,623 reported accidents in Birmingham in 2019.

What types of roads do accidents take place on?

So, while we know the specific parts of the country that see the most accidents, what are the characteristics of roads that make these places more or less dangerous?

Firstly, we took a look at whether you’re more likely to crash in an urban or rural area, with the figures showing that there are actually twice as many accidents in built-up areas than in the countryside.

While this makes sense, with there usually being more vehicles on the roads, it’s worth noting that those accidents that do take place on rural roads are usually likely to be more serious, rather than just a small bump that you might get in a town or city.

Similarly, over three quarters of accidents take place on ‘built up’ roads, which refers to roads in settled areas with street lights and a speed limit of 30 mph, while just 19.1% occurred in non built up areas and as few as 3.5% on motorways.

Looking at the specific classes of roads in the UK, we already know that motorways see a relatively low number of accidents given how much traffic they carry, so which roads are accidents actually taking place on?

A roads see the most, with 44.5%, followed by unclassified roads which are smaller local roads (34.4%) and B roads (12.4%).

The majority of accidents (72.6%) take place on single carriageway roads, with just 15.8% on dual carriageways.

The speeds at which most accidents happen

While you might think that roads with higher speed limits, such as motorways, would see the most accidents, the opposite is actually true, with the majority of all accidents (58.9%) actually falling within the 21-30 mph bracket, while it was roads with speed limits up to 70 mph that actually had the fewest crashes, showing that there are many more factors at play than just speed.

The junction types with the most accidents

Over half of all accidents (58%) occur at junctions, so which are the most dangerous? With around three times as many accidents as any other type of junction, the answer is the T or staggered junction, with over 33,000 accidents, making up around 29% of accidents.

These junctions see a minor road connect to a major road, with these roads being slightly offset in the case of the staggered junction.

This was followed by the standard crossroad junction (9.55%) and the dreaded roundabout (7.81%).

Methodology

All figures sourced using the Department for Transport’s road traffic statistics road safety data download tool and refer to road accidents reported to the police in 2019 where at least one person is injured (there can be several casualties in one accident).

Jamie C,
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