November 14, 2013
As the clocks go back and the weather turns, many road users are naturally more cautious about driving in the dark winter months. But should we be equally fearful when driving throughout the rest of the year?
Believe it or not statistics from 2010 found that most crashes happened at weekends during the summer, in dry, daylight conditions. You may, as many people do, also assume that the majority of fatal accidents occur on busy motorways and avoid them for this very reason. But you would be wrong. Chillingly the highest risk of death and serious injury is on our Derbyshire A roads and throughout the East Midlands.
Many of us will have witnessed a road accident, a near miss or have had the unfortunate experience of a family member or friend being involved in a collision. We all too often see our local roads marked with bunches of flowers symbolising a fatality and horrifyingly some 1,754 people lost their lives on Britain's roads in 2012.
As a claimant personal injury lawyer and a local resident on the Derbyshire and South Yorkshire border, I am all too aware of certain A roads having a reputation for accidents, however I was shocked to discover that Derbyshire has two of the most treacherous roads in Britain.
Most dangerous roads in the UK
The A537, or the 'Cat and Fiddle' as it's been named after the public house at its summit, remains the most dangerous road in Britain. Whilst the stretch of winding road provides some fantastic views over the Derbyshire countryside, it is also the location of some unnecessary and fatal road accidents.
Our local newspaper in Chesterfield, the Derbyshire Times recently reported that the A537 was becoming even more dangerous and that Derbyshire County Council had confirmed they were working hard to make the road a safer place, but faced a number of challenges including the simple physical geography of the area.
The second road in Derbyshire to be featured on the list is the A5012, a nine mile road with a very poor safety record. This stretch joins the A6 at Cromford and the A515 between Buxton and Ashbourne, and unfortunately is ranked the second worst road, safety wise, giving Derbyshire the top two most dangerous in the whole of Britain!
Hazardous roads or just poor driving?
So why are so many fatalities and serious injuries sustained on these particular stretches of road? Some of the common scenarios cited are:
• Impatient drivers avoiding the busy motorways
• Motorbike riders weaving in and out of slow moving traffic throughout the summer months
• A simple lack of concentration and awareness of the speed restrictions put in place by the police and local authorities
Whilst motorcyclists actually make up just 1% of all traffic they comprise 21% of fatalities and serious accidents on our roads. However, it would be unfair to lay the blame on every motorbike rider; as surely a proportion of these accidents can be attributed to other vehicle drivers not seeing a rider or failing to allow bikes to pass safely etc.
Some will say the majority of accidents are due to impatient drivers, overtaking slow moving vehicles or being unable to see clearly around bends to check for oncoming vehicles. Others will blame young inexperienced drivers, speeding motorists, drivers being distracted using mobile phones, the list is endless.
More to do?
The rural location of these roads means they are undoubtedly dotted with trees, ditches, sign posts, dry walls and various other roadside distractions, so should our local councils be taking more of an active role to remove these potential hazards? Or are drivers simply ignoring all the safety measures already in place to protect them from a challenging stretch of road?
It's clear that motorists in Derbyshire are faced with some of the most dangerous roads in Britain. Safe, considerate driving should be at the forefront of every road user's mind all year round. Only with this care and the work being undertaken by local road safety initiatives, will we have a chance of getting Derbyshire's roads out of the top ten most dangerous.