Road Safety News

THINK! launches new campaign as country roads are revealed as Britain’s ‘deadliest’

Thursday 22nd October 2015

The DfT has launched a new THINK! ‘country roads’ campaign on the back of new figures which reveal that rural roads are the deadliest.

The new DfT data shows that on average three people died on country roads* every day last year. In total, 1,040 people were killed and 9,051 seriously injured on country roads in 2014, with a third (348) of fatalities occurring on a bend.

In spite of this, in a survey of 2,000 drivers conducted earlier this month, almost a quarter of respondents admitted to braking too late on bends and two fifths (41%) claimed to have swerved to avoid something in the road.

The problem on country roads is most acute among young drivers, with a third confessing to braking too late before a bend and more than one in 10 admitting to ‘taking the racing line’ by crossing into the opposite side of the road. Young drivers are also the most likely to overtake on a bend without a clear road ahead.

In response, THINK! has partnered with a farmer to turn potential road hazards into impossible-to-ignore warning signs. ‘Helpful Hazards’ features animals and vehicles sprayed with signs prompting drivers to slow down, anticipate hazards and brake before the bend, not on it.   

The campaign also includes a re-run of the ‘If you could see’ video and radio ads which were first launched in October 2014. The video uses 3D scanning technology to allow the viewer to see through objects and spot the danger ahead that the driver can’t see. The ad has been updated based on feedback from last year’s campaign to better demonstrate the ‘x-ray’ effect.

Andrew Jones, road safety minister, said: “Every injury and death on our roads is a tragedy and that is why the new THINK! country road campaign is so important. 

“We want the public to anticipate potential hazards on the road when driving in the countryside, to watch their speed and take care when approaching a bend.”

The campaign is backed by two high profile sports personalities and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

Phil Vickery, former England rugby player and countryside resident, said: “I do a lot of driving on winding country roads every day and am often shocked at the lack of care other drivers take around blind bends. My wife and I have been involved in several near misses, and minor incidents, so this is something very close to my heart.

“You never know what might be around the corner: from cyclists, horse riders and wildlife to debris and slow-moving vehicles, we all have a duty of care to be respectful to all users of the countryside and keep each other safe.” 

James Cole, British Touring Car champion, said: “I’m concerned that so many people take the racing line on bends. It’s one thing to do that in a racetrack environment but quite another to do it with no knowledge of what is around the corner.

“Take more care, anticipate hazards, stay in control and give yourself more time to react by braking before the bend, not on it.”

Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the CPRE, said: “Our country roads and lanes are for everyone - drivers, walkers, riders, cyclists and, of course, farmers. They are often beautiful, lined by high hedges and dry stone walls. They are part of rural life. But they also account for the majority of fatal crashes.

“Even if you think you know a road like the back of your hand, you can never be sure what’s round the corner. So let’s keep our country roads safe for everyone too. Please take care, and keep your speed down.”

The DfT defines rural or country roads as “all roads outside of urban settlements with a population of 10,000 plus and with any speed limit, but excluding motorways”.


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It is perfectly possible to hit an animal on the road without driving to any excess. A cat can run too swiftly out from a hedgerow as do squirrels, and deer can leap a fence from a thicket straight onto a passing vehicle, pheasants are particularly stupid birds where traffic is concerned. Some things one cannot avoid. Where sheep are concerned loose in open country it's not hard to avoid them. Where badgers and foxes are concerned, they (like most wildlife) are in the main nocturnal, so even less chance of spotting them along country lanes.

Good video though.
Derek Reynolds, Salop.

Agree (5) | Disagree (0)

Just a quick factual correction to Bob's first post. The Cat and Fiddle section with the high collisions rate where average speed cameras were put in was in Cheshire. Derbyshire's section is quite short and doesn't have a bad safety record so we didn't spend a million pounds on the cameras!
Matt Pickard, Derbyshire County Council

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Sorry Duncan, but the phrase 'bag a stag' is insensitive and has an almost gloating tone to it. The make of car is irrelevant as well. It's possible to train oneself to avoid wildlife and animals on the road if one puts one's mind to it - avoiding other humans on the road then becomes a doddle.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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Who's 'they' Bob? There are around 60,000 recorded collisions with Deer every year plus many more thousands of collisions with various other types of animal. I hit a Muntjack a year or two ago and a few years before that the lovely Stephanie managed to bag a stag with her BMW road car. I was on the way to the chip shop to fetch our tea and she was on her way to work at the airfield. The point is that neither of us was speeding or doing anything other than just taking a journey that we had done many times before without incident.

This would be similar profile for the vast majority of people involved in such collisions and although the odd speeder might collide with a sheep from time to time they will tend to be pretty rare events. They therefore actually means us.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

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Well actually Bob, my concern was for the welfare of the sheep, not the stupid (your word) drivers and riders. There's too many dead animals on the roadside thanks to some of us humans not caring enough to look out for them.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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If they don't slow down it's their own fault - read all about it in the Police Roadcraft Manual. If they are stupid enough to ride at silly speeds when there is such a hazard about - then they shouldn't be on the road. They should take out their adrenaline on a track somewhere. Then we will all be safer... thanks to the sheep. Looks like its 4 to 1 in my favour at the moment. Sorry 5 to one.
Bob Craven Lancs...Space is Safer Campaigner

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You may slow down Bob, but many don't - that's what bothered me about your comment.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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No Hugh I was deadly serious. I live and ride a motorcycle over the Pennines, a sheep district, and I can take you on many, many roads that have sheep roaming free. When you see them it does make you slow down as they appear to be somewhat unpredictable. So it does act as a safety measure. There are many roads and I presume that the Cat and Fiddle was one where many years ago sheep roamed free but have now become enclosed.

What a pity. Would have saved millions.
Bob Craven Lancs...Space is Safer Campaigner

Agree (13) | Disagree (2)

Has anybody realised how profound the quote is from Mr Vickery? He says he's shocked by the actions of other drivers yet admits to having been involved in several near-misses. Surely the point of this advertisement is to warn of the dangers of blind bends so that nobody has to take avoiding action. Mr Vickery is clearly in need of taking that advice on board yet here he is tut-tutting about the actions of others.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (7) | Disagree (5)

I presume your opening comment was tongue-in-cheek Bob! Animals and traffic definitely do not mix - unless in an ad of course, which this is.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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Here's an idea... Do a survey to ascertain individual drivers' behaviour, such as the one referred to, note the participants details and then when the ad is finished, we know who needs to watch it. In this case the 25% who admitted braking too late for bends and the 41% who found they had to swerve. Otherwise, as with any campaign, the message may well be 'out there', but we don't know if those who need to see it, actually do. Also, there was a time when THINK! ads would appear on regular TV, but I don't recall seeing one for some time?
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (5) | Disagree (3)

What a brilliant idea. Nothing better than sheep and cattle roaming about the roads to slow motorcyclists or other road users down. Same goes with cattle grids they act as a bottleneck and slows any traffic that travels over them.

Several years ago I suggested both sheep and cattle grids for Derbyshire for their troubled Cat and Fiddle road but they put in one million pounds worth of average speed cameras instead. Well one can try but one can't win them all.

This farmer should get a medal for his innovative actions as it goes above and beyond the call of his duties.
Bob Craven, Lancs. Space is Safer Campaigner

Agree (9) | Disagree (2)