Rural roads are the most dangerous in Britain

Half of fatal accidents occur on rural roads, according to research carried out by Heritage Classic Car Insurance.

The company looked into the most recent data about road safety and fatal crashes.

Statistics found on show that car drivers, motorcyclists and cyclists are all at an increased risk of a fatal road accident on country roads.

Whilst motorways carry around 21% of UK road traffic, they are responsible for only 5% of fatalities. Built-up roads account for 44% for fatalities [1], leaving rural roads as the most dangerous, with over half of the country’s road deaths.

Per mile, car drivers and occupants are nearly twice as likely to be killed on rural roads as on urban roads. Motorcyclists are nearly three times more likely to be killed on rural roads compared to urban roads, whilst cyclists are more than twice as likely to be killed on a country road as an urban road.

Analysis of 2014 data has shown that for accidents where a police officer attended the scene and reported the contributory factor, the most commonly reported category in all accidents across all road types was ‘driver/rider error or reaction’ [2].

Of those, the most frequently reported contributory factor for all road types is ‘failure to look properly’. This is broken down to 49% of accidents on urban roads, 34% of accidents on rural roads and 33% of accidents on motorways in 2014. Another contributory factor is ‘loss of control’.

Whilst failure to look properly accounts for 30% of fatal accidents on urban roads, 21% on rural and 21% on motorways, loss of control comes to 30% urban, 38% rural and 30% motorways.

The main reason motorists lose control of their vehicle whilst driving on rural roads is due to there being more hazards, including more narrow roads, blind bends, dips and other distractions.

Weather also has a huge impact on road casualties. Bad weather is actually recorded as reducing the number of casualties [3]. Although road surfaces become more slippery and visibility can be affected, our natural reaction to this is to slow down and take more care in driving. This reduces the risk of collision and in turn has shown fewer fatal injuries occur.

Speaking about the data, Mark Wilkinson, managing partner at Heritage Classic Car Insurance, said: “Many of our specialist insurance policy holders are classic car enthusiasts who love nothing more than to take their cars out on rural roads during the summer months. We felt it was important to get this information out to raise awareness, both for our customers and UK motorists in general, and encourage more people to drive safe. Motorways can be very dangerous, as can urban roads, but it is the rural road that takes most lives. So to everyone, enjoy the beautiful English countryside, but please continue to drive carefully.”



  1. Figures taken from Reported accidents by speed limit, road class and severity, Great Britain, table RAS10001-

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As anyone who has been involved in crash investigation and analysis will know, crashes – not accidents – are random multi-factor events. That is, there is ALWAYS a number of factors which contribute to the occurrence. To produce such conclusion as those above is rather meaningless because it over-simplifies the problem to the extent that the situation can be misinterpreted. In addition to this, the reporting officer only has the choice of 3 main contributory factors and has to make an instant judgement, usually at the scene of the crash. This may be found later to be incorrect. I think the insurance companies should leave the crash analysis to those who know a little bit more about the problem.