Rural Roads

Rural Roads


  • Rural roads in the UK are defined as major and minor roads outside urban areas, in an area that has a population of less than 10,000 (RRCGB, DfT, 2017).

  • Analyses of accidents have been undertaken using different definitions of rural roads in the UK and the results compared. While accident numbers differ between the road classification methods, the trends remain similar.

  • Crashes on rural roads are a major road safety problem, accounting for up to two-thirds of deaths and serious injuries worldwide. Rural intersections are often particularly hazardous, with over 30 per cent of rural crashes occurring at intersections (Corben, Oxley, Koppel & Johnston, 2005).

  • In September 2014-October 2015 rural roads saw the highest increase in road traffic volume, with a 5.8% increase on minor rural roads (provisional data; DfT, 2015c).

  • In 2016, 65% of all fatal accidents occurred on rural roads (RRCGB, DfT, 2017).

  • The proportion of accidents and fatalities occurring on rural roads was fairly consistent for different vehicle types in 2016 (e.g. 31% of all motorcycling accidents and 66% of fatal motorcycling accidents occurred on rural roads; 36% of all car accidents and 67% of fatal car accidents occurred on rural roads; 41% of accidents involving vans and LGVs and 65% of all fatal accidents involving this vehicle type occurred on rural roads) (RRCGB, DfT, 2017).

  • In Lincolnshire, reductions from the National Speed Limit to 50mph on certain high-risk rural routes resulted in a 76% reduction in KSI collisions and an overall 35% reduction in collisions (DfT, 2010).

  • Enhanced verge maintenance and removal of vegetation on rural roads in Lincolnshire and in Norfolk increased sightlines and was associated with an increase in both vehicle speeds and collisions (DfT, 2010).

  • There were reductions in recorded speeds on rural roads in Lincolnshire where VMSs were introduced at a number of locations (DfT, 2010).

  • Rear facing average speed cameras in Norfolk were associated with significant reductions in contraventions of the speed limit (DfT, 2010).

  • Most collisions at rural intersections in Australia occur in high-speed settings, at intersections that are uncontrolled or controlled by stop or give-way signs, and often on low-traffic-volume, single-carriageway roads (Corben et al., 2005).

  • Cost-effective measures to improve safety on rural roads include:

    • Measures to reduce speed and therefore injury severity.

      • These measures include physical and perceptual speed reduction treatments.

    • Improvements to reduce the occurrence or severity of side impact crashes, including roundabouts, traffic signals, grade separation, channelisation, signing to clarify priority, removal of sight distance obstructions, and limited access from side roads/driveways.

    • Improvements to reduce the occurrence or severity of head on crashes, such as provision of medians or other measures to prevent overtaking in unsuitable locations, or provision for safe overtaking.

    • Improvements to reduce the occurrence or severity of run-off crashes, such as removal of road side obstacles, use of safety barriers, and skid resistant pavements at bends or specific hazards.

(Corben et al, 2005)

  • Analyses shows that the UK urban accident rate (per billion vehicle km) is more than double that of rural roads. However, accidents on rural roads have a higher severity, as 2% of accidents on rural roads are fatal compared with 0.3% on urban roads. Similarly, 19.5% of accidents on rural roads led to serious injuries compared with 8.6% on urban roads (DfT, 2015b).

  • Speeds on single carriageway rural roads are generally well within the national 60mph speed limit. Observations from 270 sites around England show a wide distribution of mean speeds on roads with speed limits of 60mph. The speed assessment framework operates on the principles that the speed limit choice should be guided by assessing actual accident rates relative to defined thresholds (DfT, 2006).

  • The length of time for US emergency medical services to arrive at the scene is longer in rural areas than in urban areas (Burgess, 2005; National Safety Council, 2008).



  • Date Added: 03 Apr 2012, 08:04 AM
  • Last Update: 12 Jan 2018, 11:01 AM