Rural roads are the most dangerous in Britain

With more than half of fatal crashes occurring on country roads in Britain, car drivers, motorcyclists and cyclists are all at an increased risk of a fatal road accident.

Statistics found on www.gov.uk show that country roads in the UK are responsible for 50% of fatal crashes (in 2014). Although motorways carry around 21% of traffic, they are responsible for only 5% of fatalities, while built-up roads account for 44% for fatalities [1].

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.

The hazard of rural roads in the UK 2015


1713 TOTAL

  • Rural – 895 (52%)
  • Built up – 718 (42%)
  • Motorway – 100 (6%)

1775 TOTAL

  • Rural – 896 (50%)
  • Built up – 783 (44%)
  • Motorway – 96 (5%)
Difference 2013-2014

Overall 3.5% INCREASE

  • 0% change
  • 9.1% increase
  • 4% decrease

Failing to look properly and loss control.

With fatalities being so much higher on rural roads it’s important to understand why. Accidents where a police officer attended the scene and reported the contributory factor revealed that the most commonly reported category in all accidents reported across all road types is “driver/rider error or reaction” [2]. Of this, the most frequently reported contributory factor for all road types is “failed to look properly”.  This is broken down to 49% of accidents on urban roads, 34% of accidents on rural roads, 33% of accidents on motorways in 2014. However looking at fatal accidents occurring in 2014 another contributory factors arise: “loss control”. “Failed 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.

So why are people more inclined to lose control of their vehicle while driving on rural roads?


With summer roads and national speed limits applying to most rural areas, accidents are more likely to occur. There are far more hazards on a rural road than on urban roads, given the sinuosity of rural roads, which are narrow in nature with blind bends, dips and other distractions, this can lead to loss control.

Weather Conditions

Weather 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.

So when it comes to periods of unusually good weather almost always, the effect is an increasing number of casualties. With good weather comes extra journeys out, and an increased sense of confidence on the road to drivers. In rural areas, with so many twists and turns, this is where a rise in accidents take place.


  1. Figures taken from Reported accidents by speed limit, road class and severity, Great Britain, table RAS10001- https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/ras10-reported-road-accidents#table-ras10001
  2. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/463043/rrcgb2014-02.pdf
  3. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/463045/rrcgb2014-01.pdf