What is the real cost to the tax-payer of having an inefficient motorway network?
It is something that is often discussed at great length here at Safermotorways. What is the real cost of sitting in a stationery vehicle on a road designed to whisk you to your destination at 70 mph?
It has been estimated that every fatal accident costs the tax payer well over £1 million. We think it is a lot higher than that.
This week we discovered a new statistic from the AA that puts the cost even higher than we thought – and it is something we have never considered before.
Incredibly, motorists actually drove 600 million miles just to avoid going on the UK motorway network. Apparently, motorists using the AA route planner devised over 5 million routes specifically to avoid driving on a motorways. With an average distance of 125 miles, those journeys were the equivalent of traveling around the world 24,000 times. Nearly one in ten of their members say they would benefit from either refresher or confidence training on how to drive on a motorway.
This fact alone clearly demonstrates that the motorway network is a major turn off for UK motorists. It is not clear whether it is a fear of getting caught in a traffic jam or simply a fear of the motorways themselves, but either way it is a cost that must be factored in. Modern Satellite Navigation systems offer drivers a clear alternative between using A roads rather than M roads and that in itself gives drivers more options than ever before.
Statistically our motorways rank as one of the safest forms of road transport but we know that new drivers are involved in more than a quarter of all motorway accidents which involve either injury or death.
When we try to factor in the real cost of congestion, whether it is caused by accident or untimely repair work, it is safe to say that up to now, no-one has ever costed in all those people who are now driving greater distances at slower speeds, simply to avoid motorway delays. Nor do we consider the impact this has on other parts of the road network. As someone who lives very close the M40, I regular experience massive delays in the local road network every time the motorway is blocked or suffers serious congestion.
For young drivers in particular, it is clear that better motorway training is required to give them both the confidence and the skills to drive on the motorway network. The AA say that only 44% of drivers aged 18-24 and 44% of women said they were confident driving on a motorway. Research suggests that in the first year of driving nearly 20% of men and 40% of women avoid motorways altogether.
Strange when you think that statistically these drivers are more at risk driving on A roads than they are on the motorways.