Motorists are more likely to be involved in a crash on single carriageway A-roads than on a motorway, new research has found.
A study by the Road Safety Foundation also found sharp regional differences in the risks faced by drivers with the East Midlands emerging as the most dangerous part of the country.
While running off the road accounted for 30% of all deaths, crashes at junctions were the most common accidents resulting in serious injury.
It also found that just over a fifth of fatal and serious crashes on A-roads outside urban area involved pedestrians or cyclists.
Reduce crash rates
Another 10% of fatal and serious accidents were head-on collisions and the Foundation concluded that serious crashes on motorways had cost the country £1.9 billion over the last five years and £8.4 billion on major A-roads.
Dr Steve Lawson, the director of the Foundation, said improvements in road safety had been a result of improvements in car design rather than better road engineering and urged the government to consider converting smaller roads into dual carriageways.
"The specification that authorities currently set road managers is to reduce crash rates in general," he added.
"That approach is too weak and must be replaced, because it muddles factors over which road managers have no control – such as car safety, hospital care and traffic levels – with factors very definitely under their control such as roadside safety barriers or junction layouts."